How to Find Energy Efficient Features in Your Next Home

By Danielle King on 22 May 2013
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With rising energy costs, water shortages and growing environmental awareness, more people are now looking for energy efficient features in their homes.

Why? They cost less to run and they are likely to bring better market prices in the future.

Here are some tips on what to look for next time you move.       

North Facing Living Areas – With north facing living areas (depending on the property) you should be able to take advantage of passive solar heating (free heat from the sun) to help keep your home warm in winter. Given that heating and cooling can comprise up to 50% of your energy bill, this is a worthwhile feature to look out for. 

Heating Systems – Passive solar (as above) is great, but it won’t always cut it in our climate. Look for a heating system that can be zoned, has a timer and is highly efficient (check the star labelling). Gas is generally cheaper than electricity and can be a good option. Electric under floor heating costs a small fortune to run. If a home has this type of heating (even the efficient models), don’t use it and find another heating source.

Draft Seals and Insulation – You can easily check for draft seals around external doors and windows as you look around a home. Good draft proofing will help keep the indoor temperature comfortable and works best in conjunction with good insulation. Insulation is not as easy to see, but you can always ask the real estate agent or the homeowners. Ideally, you’d want a minimum insulation level of R3.5 value in the ceiling and R2 in the walls. Anything higher than that is even better.

Hot Water Systems – Hot water can make up 25% of your energy bill. Solar hot water gas boosted is the cheapest to run. Alternatively, gas instantaneous or gas storage (in that order) are the most cost effective options. If you find the home of your dreams and it has an electric hot water system, consider changing it when you move in.

Pools and Spas – These are nice to have, but they use a significant amount of energy. To help minimise costs, look for solar pool heating (gas boosted), covers that are easy to use, and ionisers to control water algae (they also help reduce the amount of time a filter needs to run).

There are many more things you could consider and it really does all depend on the house. An efficient house will give you great opportunities to minimise your living expenses, which means you’ll have more money for the fun things in life!

About the Author

Danielle King is the founder and director of Green Moves Australia, a company that focuses on and promotes sustainability in the built environment. She is a highly qualified and accredited sustainability consultant, qualified carbon accountant, and teaches sustainability subjects at Swinburne.

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