Energy we purchase, such as electricity and gas, is quite cheap at the moment, but this is likely to change in the future. Both cost savings and reducing the impacts involved in sourcing and using energy (such as from finite, fossil fuels) are just two reasons to look at reducing your household’s energy use. And it doesn’t mean you need to make big changes or spend a lot of money. If you change your attitude towards energy so you don’t take it for granted, you can easily change your behaviour using it as well.
Heating and cooling your house or unit is on average the largest part of your household energy use – on average 38%, but it can be up to 60% of your energy bills. It is possible – in most areas of Melbourne, on almost all days of the year, and for most people – to be comfortable without any heating and cooling bills! This can be significant saving.
Photo by breibeest
When it is cold, simply putting an extra layer of clothing on makes an amazing difference to your thermal comfort. Dig out comfortable warm clothing for around the house and wear thermals if you’d like the most warmth for the least bulkiness. Put an extra blanket on your bed during winter and you’ll be snug within a few minutes of hopping in. Your body produces heat anyway, so why not insulate your body? Its like a free heater! I haven’t turned on my unit’s heater in the last two years simply by wearing two or three layers when the temperature drops, and by adding a spare blanket to my bed in winter… and my small utility bills show it!
If you have the money or opportunity, look into adding insulation to your ceiling. Ensuring your hot water system and pipes are insulated can be a inexpensive exercise. Glazing your windows if you can is also a smart step as heat escapes easily out of unglazed windows. There is even plastic film you can use on windows to insulate them with a pocket of still air, for a low cost “glazing” alternative – you could even do this if you rent. It’s easy to help keep drafts at bay by using a door snake or looking into adding draft strips and door sweeps.
Regardless of your finances, everyone of us in Melbourne can use less energy without much trouble once we are aware of how we use it and what alternatives we can try. Dedicate a bit of time to looking at how your home can be more energy efficient by finding a book in the library, doing a search on the web or talking to people like energy auditors. The Your Home Technical Manual has sections on insulation, glazing and energy use if you’d like to read more.
And don’t be afraid to talk about the changes you make – in conversatons with your friends and family – so they are also more aware of their options for saving energy and money, and can make their own informed choices.