The following guest blog post is by Lyn Beinat – Chief Executive Officer – ecoMaster
With the introduction of the Carbon Tax, it’s a great opportunity to have a cuppa, look at your energy bills and have a serious think about what you can do about, not just reducing, but ELIMINATING, your energy bill.
The reality is that your energy bill is optional. Ordinary, everyday technology exists to retrofit your home to make it energy efficient so it uses NO energy at all.
On average 60% of your energy consumption comes from heating and cooling your home. Retaining that ‘conditioned air’ will reduce your heating and cooling costs significantly. This is done by improving the thermal performance of your home – draught proofing, ceiling insulation, under-floor insulation and window treatments.
Once the home is energy efficient, you can then introduce solar hot water to generate the majority of your hot water needs and then install solar panels to generate your significantly reduced energy needs.
There are many examples of homes where this has been done. Here is one…
A typical post war home in Geelong; timber construction finished in weather boards, a pitched roof, timber floors sitting on stumps with mostly original doors and double hung windows. The home had high energy bills and was pretty cold and uncomfortable in winter, and pretty hot and uncomfortable in the height of summer, too!
The initial assessment of this home rated at around 1.9 stars. After 4 years of well considered, quality retrofit, the home is now rated 7 stars and has not had an energy bill for 18 months. Now in retirement, the owners are very happy not to ever have to pay another energy bill!
Let’s break down how we made this house a 7-star wonder?
1. Draught Proofing - Depending upon the home, anywhere from 25% to 50% of a home’s energy bill can be eliminated with effective draught proofing. In this case the following was done:
- Sealing the external doors and sash windows with Draught Dodgers perimeter seals, enclosed compressive seals or brush seals to eliminate draughts.
- Draught excluders were used to seal the bottom of the door. The combination of these seals ensured that the door and windows were air tight, but still easy to operate and would last for many years.
- Unsealed exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathrooms had a ‘chimney effect’, sucking any heat into the roof cavity, treated with DraftStoppas. so when the fans are turned on, the draft stoppas vent the hot steamy air into the attic space. When the fans are off, the draft stoppas seal the fan to stop your conditioned air from leaving your living areas.
2. Shading of the home – Normally it is more effective to install external shading, but in this instance it wasn’t possible. Whilst most of the windows of the home were well served by shading, the kitchen area was a problem with the major heat build-up from the North covered carport. This was fixed with the installation of a solar reflective blind fitted to the inside of the window which could be pulled down on hot days.
3. Ceiling Insulation – Quality ceiling insulation is a must. For every $1,000 you spend on heating, $350 goes straight through an un-insulated ceiling. Many people have some insulation, but very few people know what level of cover they have and how well it is installed.
4. Under Floor Insulation - Underfloor insulation is toasty! Anyone who has had their timber underfloor insulated properly, raves about the change in their home and how much more liveable it is. As the home had a highly ventilated sub floor it was combated by installing the environmentally sound R 1.5 Polyester batt (Autex GreenStuf) between the joists of the floor and then sealing over the complete subfloor with Kingspan Retroshield.
5. Glazing – As many of the other areas in the home were now treated it was only the windows that were preventing the home from reaching its highest possible star rating. With the new developments in secondary glazing, the home’s original windows could be used to create cost effective double glazing. Secondary glazing is about 1/3 to ½ the price of double glazing and is just as effective as replacement double glazing (and without the hassle). The new ecoGlaze system is designed, owned and manufactured in Australia. ecoGlaze allowed additional components to be added to the existing frames to create a still air space of around 12-18mm (the desired separation for the best thermal performance).
6. Solar Hot Water – About 25% of your energy bills is generated by your hot water requirements. Along the path to a zero energy home, is the installation of a high quality solar hot water system. Make sure it is equipped with long lasting storage tanks and installed correctly.
7. Appliances – We have become a nation obsessed with changing light bulbs and shower roses – and whilst that assists with energy efficiency, it’s not the main game! So change those and get on with the next biggest consumer of power in your home – appliances. Choose energy efficient appliances when it is time to replace your old ones.
8. Solar Panels – Install solar panels on your roof sufficient to cover all of your (now significantly reduced) energy needs.
That will future proof your home from energy bills forever, so you can get on with your life, without worrying about the cost of energy, ever! Smart.
For further information refer to www.ecoMaster.com.au
About the author: Lyn Beinat, with her husband Maurice, co-founded and run one of Australia’s first green home retrofit businesses. Their aim was, and continues to be, to create an ethical, high quality, trusted assessment and green retrofit service that provides a wide range of cost effective solutions.
ecoMaster is now in its 7th year having retrofitted thousands of homes. They have received many awards for their ground-breaking work in climate change solutions and energy efficiency. In May 2009, Lyn was awarded the prestigious National award – HIA GreenSmart Professional of the Year in Parliament House, Canberra for leadership and professionalism. ecoMaster is the first green retrofit business in Australia to be awarded a national award from an industry peak body.