ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas
Eco-friendly renovations on a basic budget, is not as hard as you might think. And the good news is that making smart choices now can help you save money while you do your bit to help protect the planet.
Minimising heating and cooling costs
One of the most important aspects to consider in any renovation is reducing the need for heating and cooling. Doing this reduces your energy consumption, and helps keep costs down. There are many relatively low cost ways you can do this including improving insulation. This is particularly important for the roof, which is the primary source of heat gain and loss. If you are performing significant renovations, which entail opening external walls, make sure they are fully insulated before re-installing. Around 35% of heat loss occurs through walls, so this is well worth doing.
Even if you are doing much of the building work yourself, it’s worth taking professional advice from an architect, builder or qualified independent energy assessor on this.
Be window wise
If you are installing new windows make sure they are sized, oriented, shaded and draft-proofed appropriately. A home can lose as much as 40% of its heat through windows in winter, while in the summer months as much as 87% of the heat in a home is acquired through them. So ensuring they are shaded and draft-proofed can make a huge difference to the ambient temperature of your space and therefore how much heating or cooling is needed.
Installing ceiling fans in all living and sleeping spaces is a more energy efficient way of cooling your home than using air-conditioning. For more ideas tailored to the climate in your local area, visit Government website YourHome.
That light bulb moment
After heating and cooling, lighting is another key consideration. It takes 400% more power to run a standard bulb compared to an LED, so switching to LEDs could save you hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of the bulb. Savings will be even more significant if you have lots of lights in your home.
Do I need to upgrade my electric appliances?
If you’re renovating your kitchen or laundry, you’re probably thinking about replacing your current appliances with new and more energy efficient models. It’s natural to be thinking about this but, if your existing appliances aren’t too old and are in good working order, don’t be in too much of a hurry to commit them to landfill just yet. It might be more sustainable to incorporate them into your new renovation. If they don’t fit with your renovation plans and you don’t know anyone who can use them, at least try to find them a new home, via Gumtree or Freecycle.
Water will become an increasingly precious resource in Australia in the decades to come, so it makes sense to create a home that prioritises water efficiency. There are many things you can do to improve the water efficiency of your home, from choosing water efficient tapware and fixing leaky taps (which can see up to 90 litres a week go down the drain) to installing water efficient appliances, toilets and showerheads, plus a rainwater tank. Rainwater can be used for more than irrigating the garden, so why not site and plumb in your tank so it can be used to flush toilets too?
Australia’s Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is the best way to compare products, such as washing machines, showerheads and toilets for water efficiency. The WELS water efficiency label gives a star rating out of six – the higher the number of stars the better. It also shows a water consumption or water flow figure based on laboratory tests. Find out more at Water rating and at Choice.
How green is your garden?
When thinking about making your home more sustainable, don’t forget the garden. Using rainwater for your irrigation system is a great idea, but it’s also important not to overdo the hard landscaping and to use native plants that will thrive in your area’s microclimate. This may mean reducing the amount of grass area you have. Eco design consultant Nelson Lebo advises renovators to: “Think about how much lawn you use on a regular basis and consider converting the rest to gardens, wildflowers or other greenery.”
Make the most of Government incentives
However grand – or modest – your renovation plans, it makes sense to check out your state Government’s range of incentives and rebates for householders wanting to become more energy efficient. These can vary from state to state, but range from renewable power (solar, wind and hydro) incentives, to calculators designed to help you calculate the size of rainwater tank you need in NSW, to home energy efficiency assessments in the ACT. Residents in Queensland can get help with switching their pool pump to a more energy and cost-effective tariff, while the Victorian Government has incentives including a showerhead exchange program. Find out what’s available near you by visiting the Energy Savings website.
If you have a slightly bigger budget to work with why not read our mid-range project estimate for a healthier, eco-friendly home or read the high-end eco renovation project estimate if you are striving to make your house the next 10-star home.
This project estimate article featured on page 92 of Issue 017 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
If you would like to discuss eco-friendly options and ideas for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.