Water heating

For most houses hot water is the largest energy cost and cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Solar, heat pump and, to a lesser extent, gas systems, are usually better for the environment. By choosing the right system you can lower your energy bills, save money, and reduce environmental impact without compromising your lifestyle.

A solar hot water system is the most energy efficient form of creating naturally heated water in a home in this part of the world. Making sure that you have the correct size collector for the capacity of the tank to serve the amount of people in the home is critical so make sure you get expert advice before you buy. This will assure you have abundant hot water all year round with little cost to you and the environment.

Rebates on solar hot water systems are currently available in WA.

Water appliances

Water efficient appliances offer an excellent way to save money and protect the environment. They include efficient shower heads and taps, dual flush toilets and front loading washing machines.

The money saved on water and energy will more than cover any initial extra cost to help reduce domestic water consumption, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme was introduced. The WELS Scheme requires that certain water-using products are labelled for water efficiency, to help Australian households to save water and money.

Under the scheme, product suppliers are required to provide water efficiency information, and star-ratings, to consumers on items including washing machines, dishwashers, showers, taps, toilets, urinals and flow controllers. Industry must register these products with theWELS Regulator (the Secretary of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities).

The scheme is funded from industry registration fees and contributions from federal, state and territory governments and is administered by the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

WELS has its own Act, The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005, and is underpinned by its own Australian Standard, the AS/NZS 6400.

The WELS Scheme excludes products imported into Australia for personal use.

Products manufactured in Australia are subject to WELS requirements if supplied as new products. Products imported into Australia are subject to WELS requirements if supplied as new or used products.

  • AAA rated shower heads costing as little as $20 can reduce indoor household water consumption by 20 percent. They pay for themselves at least three times over in any 12 month period, depending on your water usage. You may well be able to get a rebate if you fit a water-efficient shower head. Contact the Water Corporation for more information.

The rainwater that falls on your roof is often channelled straight to the storm water drain. Why not gain the benefit of free water by installing a rain water tank.

Heating and cooling

Heating and cooling are high cost items for the average home and for the environment. In Australia, poorly designed houses are designed against the climate, meaning that we have to install energy inefficient appliances such as air conditioners and heaters to cool us in the summer and keep us warm in the winter. If your house is not designed for the climate your home may well require supplementary heating or cooling. As with any other appliance, check the energy ratings and the degree of adjustment offered by each appliance before purchasing.

Some things to consider:

  • Decide which rooms need frequent heating and cooling. Make sure they can be closed off from the rest of the house and are well insulated.
  • In WA, extreme hot or cold periods are quite short. You may only need to heat or cool a few rooms to a comfortable temperature during these short periods.
  • Consider whether ceiling fans would be sufficient to cool you in the summer and push the rising warm air back down in the winter.
  • Remember that gas appliances often cause only one quarter of the greenhouse emissions produced by equivalent electric appliances and be sure to buy a low nitrous oxide producing heater (ask your retailer which is the lowest).

Don’t forget to carry energy-efficient principles through to the appliances you install in your home. Always choose durable, efficient appliances and furniture when old items wear out. The energy performance of popular appliances is displayed by an Energy Rating Label. This national scheme provides you with a simple star rating to help you select the best appliances for your needs..

Energy Rating Labels can be found on many appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dish washers and air conditioners. Take a look at the energy all stars website to check out the most energy efficient white goods availableThe energy use of an item can be found on the centre of the Energy Rating tag. You should look out for the lowest kWh possible as the lower the energy usage, the more money you will save. For example, a top loading washing machine could use up to 643 kWh per year whilst a front loading model could use as little as 186 kWh per year, saving you around $60 per year on your energy bill, from your choice of washing machine alone!

Lighting

Installing energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways householders can reduce their energy use and in the past ten years, lighting technology has come a long way.

In November 2009, minimum energy performance standards
(MEPS)
were introduced to ensure that only energy efficient globes are available in the shops, and the sale of incandescent globes, which were once the main option for homes, has been banned in Australia. With these less efficient globes being phased out, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have replaced them. CFLs consume less than a quarter of the energy (and cost) of incandescent globes and they last a lot longer. Although a CFL will cost a little more to buy than the old incandescent globes, they quickly pay for themselves through their savings in energy.

Currently, CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, so care does need to be taken when handling and disposing of these lamps. If one does break, open your windows and let the room ventilate for 15 minutes. Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up a broken CFL, instead, using gloves and a damp disposable cloth, pick up globe pieces, place the pieces and cleaning gear in a sealable container and place in your rubbish bin. Unbroken CFL globes can be recycled at the Mandurah Waste Transfer Station on Gordon Road.

You could also consider motion sensor monitors to avoid lights being left on by accident. The cost of installation would be approximately $60 – $100 but each one would save you approximately 86kg of greenhouse gases per year.

Maximise natural lighting wherever possible be installing skylights or solar tubes in darker rooms in the house.