Most Australian homes need heating or cooling at some time of the year. In some areas this accounts for up to 40 per cent of household energy use.
There are many ways you can make your home cheaper to run and remain comfortable all year round.
Passive design helps you maintain the interior temperature of your home with little mechanical heating and cooling.
You can use passive design ideas when you are planning a new home or for your existing home.
Passive design ideas include:
If your home isn't designed for passive heating, the next best option is to choose appropriate heating for your situation. Your climate, type of heater, how you use it and even its position in the room can make a big difference to your comfort and heating bills.
There are many different types of heating, with different sources of energy and levels of efficiency. Central heating can often heat a whole house, whereas space heating heats the one or two rooms that are in use. There are many options in both types - the best type of heating for you will depend on your circumstances.
Always ensure that you clean the filters on your chosen heating system at the beginning and end of each season to ensure that it runs smoothly and use timers to make sure that you are only heating your room when you require.
Wood heaters are used in many Australian homes, however they aren’t the most energy-efficient option. They can’t be turned off when a suitable temperature is reached and are often supplemented by other forms of heating to warm the rest of the home. A poorly managed wood heater produces large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Air pollution from the smoke from wood heaters, wood fires and stoves in combination with the greenhouse gases from transporting firewood to urban areas also have a harmful impact on the environment. Wood is a renewable energy source only if it is harvested sustainably.
Before getting a wood heater, it's worthwhile thinking through your heating needs including whether there is a more energy efficient option, such as gas, available where you live.
If you have an existing wood heater or are considering purchasing one there are a range of steps you can take to avoid or minimise the impacts:
If your home isn't designed for passive cooling, the next best option is to choose appropriate cooling for your situation.
When preparing for a hot summer, options may include:
If your air conditioner is inappropriate and not installed correctly or maintained properly, it can cost you more in energy bills and have a negative impact on the environment. Always clean the filters on your chosen cooling system at the beginning and end of each season to ensure that it runs smoothly. Use timers to make sure that you are only cooling your room when you require. See the free consumer guides on the Australian Refrigeration Council website for information on how to choose, install and maintain your air conditioner.
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