Energy Coach - Autumn 2023
Get ready for the cooler weather ahead with these simple and practical Autumn energy savings timps from Energy Coach and Bill Hero
What a horrible thought - Autumn is already here, and that basically means that Winter Is Coming 😱
For those of us who rely on gas for heating, this may well turn out to be a winter of discontent. With gas pricing still at historic highs, the prospect of winter gas bills feels daunting.
But let's not panic quite yet. There's still time to get organised, and Energy Coach is here to help. This Autumn guide provides simple ways to help you save energy, minimise waste and be ready for the colder winter months.
Plus, Energy Coach's partner Bill Hero will make sure that your winter gas bills will stay as low as possible, whatever your usage. If you're not already a Bill Hero subscriber, then now is the time.
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Autumn Energy Savings Tips
Easy, actionable energy savings tips to keep your consumption and your bills down this Autumn
Australia is a big country, and depending on where you live, Autumn can mean very different things.
In the colder southern climate zones, it means preparing your home to minimise heat loss. In warmer climates, it might just mean you have an opportunity to reduce your reliance on air conditioning and rely more on ventilation.
Basic energy saving tips for cooler weather
- Set your heating thermostat sensibly - you should be fine with 18°C to 20°C in cooler regions and 25°C to 27°C in warmer regions. Every degree you increase your heating or cooling can increase your energy use by 5% to 10%, so reach for a woolly jumper rather than the heater controls.
- Open your curtains during the day to get maximum advantage from any sunshine, but then close your curtains in the early evening to maximise retention of the day’s warmth.
- Use your outdoor clothesline or a clothes rack inside while the good weather lasts. Your tumble dryer is one of the greediest appliances you'll have in your home, so if you have one at all, be conscious to use it as little as necessary.
- Hot water accounts for a large chunk of your power bill, so avoid standing under the hot shower to get warm. Dressing more warmly in the first place is the best technique of all.
- Turn off your appliances at the wall when not in use. Standby power can account for more than 3% of your household electricity use.
Keeping your home warm
Taking action to stop air from entering and leaving your home is key to saving energy. Here are some simple ideas that will have the greatest impact.
Stopping draughts will deliver the best bang for your buck out of all the energy savings techniques - it's simple, cheap and effective. Stopping draughts helps keep your home warm while saving up to 25% on your heating bills.
Draught-proofing gear such as foam strips and door snakes are readily available from your local hardware store, are easy to install, and cost very little.
As the cold weather sets in you'll be able to notice cold air leaking in from cracks and gaps around doors and windows. You may also have gaps around cupboards and architraves, floorboards and skirting boards.
Be attentive to any cold breezes you feel as you move about your home, and follow the draught to find its source. Once you've identified a problem gap or crack, then take steps to block it.
- Use adhesive foam strips to fill the gap between windows and frames and around doors.
- Fit brush strips to help seal any sliding sash windows.
- It's imp[ortant to block any gaps under external-facing doors with a brush or hinged flap draught-stopper.
- For the inside of the door, use a sand-filled or fabric draught-stopper or door snake.
- For areas like chimneys or around electrical fittings, you may need to seek expert advice.
Effective insulation can deliver dramatic savings in heating costs. Up to 50% of heating can leak out through gaps in and around ceilings, walls and floors.
There are many types of insulation available. Suitability depends on your location and roof type. Insulation is rated with an 'R' value based on the thermal resistance - hence 'R' - of the insulation. The higher the R value rating, the higher the insulation properties of the material, and the slower heat will flow through the material.
Your home can be rated for its overall total R value for the resistance to heat flow provided by a roof and ceiling, or a wall or a floor. Each of the components in these structures will have have its own R value, which can be added together to determine the total R value.
Total R values for roofs, ceilings and floors that use reflective insulation are expressed as 'up' and 'down' values, depending on the direction of heat flows through the material:
'Up’ R values describe resistance to heat flow in an upwards direction. This is sometimes known as winter R values, since in winter the most common direction for heat to travel is upward from your heated room, through your ceiling and roof.
'Down’ R values describe resistance to heat flow in a downwards direction, which is known as ‘summer’ R values since the main source of summer heat is the sun.
You should consider both the up and down R value when choosing new insulation for roof, ceiling or floor insulation. Total R values for walls are expressed as a single figure, without any ‘up’ and ‘down’ distinctions.
There are many factors that can reduce the total R value, including thermal bridging, compression and settling of of bulk insulation, dust settling on reflective insulation and the lack of a suitable air gap for reflective surfaces.
It's important to ensure that installation is done to specification for your insulation to perform as it's rated. This means insulation should be installed by someone with expert knowledge, and in accordance with Australian standards.
Windows can release up to 40% of heating energy in your home. You can improve window efficiency with:
- Curtains and blinds. Use heavy fabrics or curtains with thermal lining or layers.
- Pelmets above curtains. If pelmets don't fit your design, choose window fittings that attach to the wall or curtains that reach to the ceiling.
- A strip of light timber across the curtain rail to stop heat loss.
- Plastic coating on windows, as a low-cost alternative to double-glazing.
Maintain heating systems
Autumn is the time to check the working condition of your heater and do any maintenance required. If you have an evaporative air-conditioning system, you may need to inspect it after summer.
Keeping your heating system well maintained will help it operate more efficiently and last longer. Check the operating instructions for your system or contact the manufacturer or retailer for advice. Maintenance of gas and reverse-cycle heating should be conducted by a qualified technician.
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