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Lifestyle : Energy Efficiency Special Report 2013
1HERSA1 C030 Energy efficiency Smart living delivers in dollars Emily and Hugh Stodart, with sons Hugh (left) and Sam, outside their energy-efficient home. Photo: Anna Kucera Home renovations gave one family the chance to completely rethink their domestic energy usage, writes Verity Campbell. W hen Emily and Hugh Stodart set out to renovate their home in the northern Sydney suburb of North Balgowlah they had comfort and cost saving in mind. The original home, a 1970s fibro shack raised on brick pillars, was a thermal-comfort disaster. It had no wall or floor insulation, and little in the ceiling. The windows were single-glazed with aluminium frames, allowing the easy loss of heat to the wintry outdoors. To say the house was draughty is an understatement. "Oh, I remember," shudders Emily. Hot water was supplied by a conventional electric hot water system. Electricity bills showed an average of 16.28 kilowatt hours per day (kWh/day). That figure was below the average of 20.5 kWh/day for a similar northern Sydney household, according to calculations on Energy Made Easy (www.energymadeeasy.gov.au), but the family still saw plenty of room for improvement. The couple -- who have two young children -- had been planning to expand their home, so they decided to embed energy-saving initiatives into the process. They engaged Dick Clarke from building designers Envirotecture. His design took the home from a single-storey, two- bedroom, one-bathroom home, to a double-storey, three-bedroom (plus study), two-bathroom home. The new building was designed to take advantage of the warmth of the sun through the "thermal mass" of the concrete slab in the new living room. "After insulation, thermal mass is the next most important thing you can do to improve energy efficiency in a home when you're building or renovating,'' says Clarke. ''North-facing thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor, stores the sun's heat during the day. At night the heat releases into the home -- it's the cheapest heater you could ever hope for." All elements of the building were carefully chosen to improve the home's energy efficiency. The windows were replaced with timber framed, double-glazed casement windows. Casement windows have a side hinge, meaning they can be fully opened to make the most of cooling breezes. To stop the house from heating up in summer, Clarke specified pull- down external blinds on the east and west facing windows, which receive the low morning and afternoon summer sun. ''Blinds prevent the heat from entering the building in the first place," he says. "Any other technique can only ever be an attempt to mop up the damage." A light colour for the new roof and exterior walls was chosen to minimise heat absorption. Insulation was installed in floors, walls and ceilings, and the building was comprehensively gap sealed. Ceiling fans were installed throughout. Finally, they equipped the home with a 1.5 kilowatt (kW) solar power system, and solar hot water to replace the electric storage hot water system. "I think the single most effective thing we did was get rid of the electric hot water system," says Emily. After installation of the system Emily's electricity usage dropped by half -- overnight. The solar power system generates enough power to consistently cover more than half the family's electricity usage. Emily estimates the other energy efficiency measures -- insulation, external window blinds, double glazing, ceiling fans, low energy lights and gap sealing -- have reduced electricity use in the home by about 1.2 kWh/day -- an impressive result, given the house is 25 per cent bigger, with more rooms to heat and cool, and more lights. Electricity consumption in the home has been slashed by almost 60 per cent, from an average of 16.28 kWh/day to 6.9 kWh/day. The family's combined gas and electricity bills now come in at about $35 a year. And the house now keeps a nice, even temperature year-round, says Emily. No more stifling summers or draughty, chilly winters. PPRODDUCCTT INTRODUCTION Rated 4 STARS by Choice, this multi-award winning Australian innovation is the easiest and most cost-effective solution to eliminate standby power. The EcoSwitch is like a simple extension cord, except it has an illuminated on/off switch on a separate branch of cord. Simply plug it into the power outlet, insert your appliance or power-board into the EcoSwitch socket and put the switch somewhere easy to reach. www.ecoswitch.com.au The EcoSwitch® G6047065AA-250513 Eliminate Standby Power And Save over 10%* • No programming • No batteries • No remote controls to lose • No codes to remember • Save money, save energy • Highly versatile - switch off anything • No master-slave dependencies • Draws no power at all, ZERO • Fastest return on investment (ROI) • Lowers your risk of fire • Encourages sustainable behaviour • Non obstructive at the wall Your wasted power problem becomes far less complicated when the solution is so very simple! *Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) The simplest way to save money on your power bills and reduce CO2 is to switch off appliances, devices and equipment at the wall every time you're not using them. By eliminating this standby power the average household can save over 10% of the total electricity they use, or over $120 per year. Businesses can save even more. Conergy PowerPlus. Made in Germany. Conergy PowerPlus solar panels are proudly made in Germany, providing a truely quality product for Australia's harshest environments. Our PremiumPlus 12 Year Warranty* and 25 Year Performance Guarantee gives you total peace of mind. * Visit www.conergy.com.au/premiumplus for full warranty details. Available from our Exclusive Partners Ph: 1300 723 355 PREMIUM PLUS WARRANTY -12YEARS- PROUDLY MADE IN GERMANY PREMIUM QUALITY 30 June 1-2, 2013 smh.com.au
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