Seal draughts to prevent air leakage.
According to Oliver Steele, homeowners should be mindful of preventing air leakage to help reduce their energy bills. ‘Australian building regulations don’t really consider it, but it’s a big issue in energy efﬁciency and thermal comfort of homes,’ he says. Air leakage accounts for 15−25 per cent of winter heat loss in buildings and can contribute to a signiﬁcant loss of coolness in climates where air conditioners are used. Common sources of air leakage include doors and windows, vents or exhaust fans, electrical outlets, gaps in or around ceiling insulation, or poorly ﬁtted ﬂoorboards. Sealants to ﬁll gaps or draught-prooﬁng strips are simple ways to address air leakage issues.
Upgrade your whitegoods and tapware to save on energy and water consumption.
Appliances account for about one-third of the energy consumption of an average household, so choosing efﬁcient models can save you money and reduce your environmental impact. ‘When buying items such as a washing machine, be aware of the star rating,’ Chris Knierim advises. ‘You may spend more money but it should be cheaper to run in the long-term.’ This star rating measures energy efﬁciency and is denoted on the Energy Rating Label. It is mandatory in Australia for a range of appliances from fridges to televisions to feature the label, and will help you choose the best energy rating to suit your budget. Similarly, Australia’s Water Efﬁciency Labelling Scheme (WELS) will assist you in selecting the most water-efﬁcient products, from showerheads, tapware and toilets to dishwashers. A WELS threestar rated showerhead can use as little as 6L per minute compared to inefﬁcient showerheads (25L per minute), while a WELS four-star toilet could save around 60,000L per year in a household of four people.
Consider native or vertical gardens or a green roof for aesthetic, economic and environmental beneﬁts.
Natural vegetation is a great complement to any sustainable home, whether you have a big backyard or a compact courtyard to work with. GreenSmart gardeners use native plants where possible, as these generally need less water and attention, plus offer better habitats for native birds and wildlife. Planting trees in the right spots can also provide protection from the sun; in particular, deciduous varieties drop their leaves, letting in winter sun. Consult your local nursery for the best varieties for your region. Vertical gardens are highly suited to apartments and townhouses or other small spaces, offering air and noise ﬁltration or a reduction in heat, light and echo. Similarly, these are some of the beneﬁts of a ‘living’ or green roof. By planting vegetation on a ﬂat or pitched roof, you can reduce stormwater runoff while adding to your home’s thermal performance. Green roofs also reduce air pollution and ‘heat island’ effect, which refers to increased temperatures generated from dense urban environments.