Australia’s homes are notoriously “leaky” – allowing the uncontrolled flow of heat into and out of the building. Our answer has been to put in more and more pumps, in the form of air conditioning. This is often promoted as a feature, rather than an indication of a poor-quality building!
This creates problems for everyone.
We all know that some houses are hotter than others in heatwaves, and that well insulated and designed homes cost a lot less to operate throughout the year because they don’t rely heavily on air conditioners or heaters to provide comfort.
But did you know that relying on air conditioners to stay cool on hot summer days affects the price of electricity for everyone, all year round?
Pumping heat from one place to another takes a lot of energy, which makes air conditioners particularly power-hungry appliances. The more leaky the house, the more heat needs to be pumped out. On hot days, when lots of aircon units are operating at the same time, this creates a challenge for the electricity infrastructure.
It costs money to build an electricity network that can handle these peaks in demand. This cost is recovered through the electricity unit cost (cents per kilowatt hour). We all pay this cost, in every electricity bill we get; in fact the cost of meeting summer peak demand accounts for about 25% of retail electricity costs. This is more than twice the combined effect of solar feed-in tariffs, the Renewable Energy Target and the erstwhile carbon tax.
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Smart Blocks is a national program helping apartment owners and their managers to improve the energy efficiency of common property in apartment buildings.
These days, many of us city dwellers live up near the clouds, scraping the sky in high-rise apartments.
Yet apartment buildings are notorious energy guzzlers. On average, residents of high and medium density blocks use 25 per cent more energy than those in detached dwellings. Up to half of this energy use comes from common areas like hallways, car parks and swimming pools.
Saving energy in these common areas makes sense – but it's not always easy to know where to start.
Smart Blocks cuts through the fog, with expert advice specific to your State or Territory so you can achieve smarter and more efficient outcomes for your building.
Smart Blocks is currently owned and managed by City of Melbourne and City of Sydney.
The program was initially developed as a partnership between Strata Community Australia, City of Sydney, City of Melbourne, Owners Corporation Network of Australia and Green Strata, with funding from the Department of Industry as part of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program.
Sitting at home in the summer heat, your mind may start to wander to that fancy new air conditioner.
But when it comes to making your house comfortable and sustainable, prevention is better than cure. By prevention we mean simple retrofits that will set you on the path to comfort and sustainability.
As we spend more than ever on maintaining and improving our homes, we’re also becoming more aware of how their design and use impact on our health and society. Add to this climate change and rising energy costs.
There are many ways to reduce energy and stay comfortable (for instance here and here). Numerous reports suggest it should be possible to reduce your energy use by 50-80% using existing and available materials and appliances.
Appliance are the easy bit, and you can find the most efficient appliances using energy star ratings. But before you go out and buy that air conditioner, consider the following principles that can help you decide what you need to create a comfortable home.
Read the full article on The Conversation