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Lifestyle : Energy Efficiency 2012
1HERSA1 C022 Smart . . . Dorothee Babeck with Oscar and Alea at their Randwick home, which has wraparound insulation. Photo: Steven Siewert Aussies all wrapped up in warmth Keeping out the cold this winter doesn't have to cost the earth, writes Nicholas Pickard. Home insulation has become much maligned since the collapse of the $3.7 billion insulation scheme, following the deaths of four people. However, with winter once again upon us, insulation is still con- sidered by governments and experts in the building industry as an integ- ral way to reduce power bills and protect homes. ''As part of a suite of things, insu- lation is one of the best measures people can take to reduce energy costs and save money,'' says the chief executive of independent research organisation The Climate Institute, John Connor. ''We estimate that for the average family home, insulation can lead to $300 per year in household savings, which more than covers the impact of the carbon price.'' The NSW government estimates that by insulating a home, consumers can reduce power bills for heating and cooling almost 40 per cent. For renters who are battling a shortage of rental properties and have no control over whether their home is insulated, many things can be done to help reduce energy bills. Green Renters, a non-profit organisation that provides advice for people living in rental accom- modation, advocates the merits of do-it-yourself insulation. ''Thick insulated curtains, door snakes, draught-proofing tape and ensuring you close doors are just some of the ways renters can better insulate their home,'' the founder of Green Renters, Cate Lawrence, says. ''It's not as good as wall, floor and ceiling insulation but with 30 per cent of Australians living in rental accommodation, it's defin- itely relevant.'' For some home owners, though, a simple insulation package in their roof isn't nearly enough. Australian Living, a sustainable building management company, is taking insulation to a new level by wrapping buildings from top to bot- tom in what it calls ''thermal com- fort simulation''. Dorothee Babeck recently had wraparound insulation -- along with double-glazed windows -- installed throughout her newly built home in Randwick and the decision is already paying dividends. ''Australian homes are notori- ously bad at keeping out both the heat and the cold, so there wasn't really any other option for us,'' Babeck says. ''We've had a few cold weeks already this year and all we need to do is put the gas heater on for 30 minutes in the morning and the house stays warm for the rest of the day.'' Connor believes Australians are pretty savvy when it comes to insu- lation and finding ways to reduce energy bills. ''In much the same way as Australians became aware of water-saving techniques during the drought, we're now finding that we are increasingly energy literate,'' he says. ''Through the star-rating system, we're choosing more-efficient pro- ducts, getting rid of the second fridge and changing shower heads to reduce the cost of running hot- water systems.'' The Australian Energy Market Operator, a collaboration of six industry bodies from the electricity and gas markets, last month released figures that suggest our national energy use has peaked. Much of the drop can be attrib- uted to consumers changing their energy-use habits in response to ris- ing electricity prices. Connor says there is still much more consumers can do to reduce energy bills during winter and the best tips can be found close to home. ''Grandparents and the younger generation are the ones who are the most informed about energy use,'' Connor says. ''It's easy to forget that the older generation lived through a depres- sion and they have some of the best clues into ways to waste not and want not.'' 22 THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Weekend Edition April 28-29, 2012 Energy efficiency SPECIAL REPORT FREE HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS* Bradford Energy Solutions starts with a FREE Home Energy Assessment. Our experts will assess your home s current energy performance and identify practical, cost effective ways for you to reduce your energy bills. How can I start lowering my energy bills? 1. Call 1800 332 332 to register your interest. 2. We ll visit your home and conduct a 1-hour energy assessment. 3. We will talk you through the assessment and recommendations, ensuring it s customised to your budget, home and lifestyle. 4. We ll then organise everything for you --- from product supply to installation. Did you know that Bradford is your one stop shop for energy ef cient solutions? 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