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
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This report presents outcomes from a three-year mixed method evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services’ low-carbon housing in Horsham, Victoria. The aim of the project was to conduct a multi-year evaluation of four new two-bedroom, single-storey, sustainably designed units with a National House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rating of 8.9 stars (Catalyst houses), in addition to seven one- and two-bedroom Control dwellings (located in Horsham).
This paper presents a multi-method (interviews, cost-benefit analysis, technical monitoring) longitudinal evaluation of ten social housing dwellings in Horsham (Victoria, Australia), including four low-energy and six control houses.
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.