Australian summers are almost impossible to get through without a decent air conditioning unit. But with the rising costs of electricity and those dreaded bills going through the roof, homeowners are finding ways to be practical – without frying themselves in the process. It’s tough sticking out the humidity and 40 degree days – especially when you’re trying to reduce the electricity bills. With or without air conditioning though, finding ways to make your home more energy efficient (and ultimately cooler and cheaper) is everyone’s priority!
Avoid Overusing Appliances
Overusing appliances are one of the biggest culprits for high power bills and ridiculously warm homes. It’s summertime! And that means embracing the Aussie culture and setting up the BBQ outside. Cooking outdoors more, now the warmer months are here, can significantly reduce your bills, put more cash in your pocket and cool your property down.
Using the oven or microwave on a 40-degree day can definitely be avoided, but all appliances throw off a lot of heat when running. This goes for your washing machine, dishwasher and grill too. Even appliances with good energy-efficiency ratings can add to your home’s heat. Limit your use of appliances throughout summer where possible, or run at night to minimise the heating effects. Anything not in use should be unplugged from the socket as this adds to the build-up of heat too.
Invest in Roller Shutters
Unless you want your home to be a giant oven throughout summer, make sure all windows are well shaded. At the very minimum, your home’s windows should be shielded with blinds or curtains. Pergolas are fantastic for keeping cool while you’re outside, but they don’t block out the morning and afternoon sun. On the higher end of the scale, roller shutters are an effective measure for homeowners wanting to increase their energy efficiency and block out the heat. They add an extra layer of insulation to your home, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.
You can invest in security window film to reduce the UV rays coming through your windows too. This is a great investment option for homeowners with smaller budgets and helps to insulate the home. Like roller shutters, they also come with the added security benefit of keeping intruders out.
Plant Trees to Provide Natural Shade
Smart landscaping tips can work wonders for keeping your home cool and the outdoor space looking lush. Fast-growing trees that thrive well in your location are the best place to start. Vines and climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperature too, by as much as 50%. Red Cedar, Blueberry Ash and Creek Lilly Pilly are all fast-growing bushes and trees which provide ample shade in the harsh Australian sun.
The great thing about utilising trees for natural shade is they do so much more than just block out the sun. Plants will allow the temperature to decrease. As hot air flows through the leaves and branches, the moisture from the tree evaporates which reduces the heat, but it also increases the oxygen levels and reduces the sun’s glare. To generate energy savings and cool your home through natural shade, plant trees within 10-20 metres on the south and west side of your house.
Switch Up Your Lighting and Paint
You can make a big difference to the heating and cooling of your home just by switching the light bulbs. Where possible, utilise natural lighting. Energy efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs will help cut down the power bills and keep your home a few degrees cooler too.
Cooling your home through a fresh coat of paint can be the perfect excuse to give your home some TLC. Light colours naturally reflect more light, reducing your need for extra lighting and heat generation. Dark interior colours can absorb up to 90% of the sun’s energy and will have a big impact on how warm your home is. To further reduce your energy costs, use heat-reflective paint on the roof of your home too. Using a white, mid-grey colour or a steel roof can lower the heat gain by about 30% as opposed to darker colours and heavier materials.
With a few simple hacks, you can make your home more energy-efficient and cooler for the summer months.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends Central Screens – a Western Australia family owned business since 1993 specialising in roller shutters and security screens for your home. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.
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