Maybe it’s the enchanting ‘new house smell’, but moving to a new home can do crazy things to your behaviour. You become a neat freak, you spy on neighbours who are using your wheelie bins without asking and you mindlessly pay bills without giving them a second thought. After all, you paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this house, what’s a few hundred dollars more?
Also, given you just moved in, how are you even supposed to know if your bills are high or if that’s just what utilities like energy cost in your area? Simple answer, you’re not! But that shouldn’t stop you from taking a few measures to ensure you are paying as little as possible and keeping your home as energy efficient as you can.
In fact, moving to a new home is the best time to initiate sustainable practices and install or fix appliances that will benefit you and the environment over the long-term. Indeed, when you walk into a new home, everything is up for discussion. Unlike your old home where a ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ philosophy usually prevails.
Don’t know where to start? How does a four step guide sound?
1. You only get out what you put in.
Your home is only as energy efficient as the appliances and fixtures within it. For example, a home with ceiling insulation will keep warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer without the need to flick a single switch. All up, insulating your house can save 45% on your annual energy costs (yourhome.gov.au).
Also if space allows, consider installing a clothesline in your backyard or balcony. Dryers can chew up energy, but the warm rays of the sun are free. Water saving shower heads are also an easy, inexpensive fitting that can save you in the long-run.
Finally do an inventory of all your home appliances and fix any broken fridge seals, leaking air conditioners or shaking washing machines. Quite often broken appliances use up more energy than they’re supposed to.
2. It’s the little things that matter.
Once you’ve moved in (of even just before) it’s time to take out the magnifying glass and note pad and start jotting down all the issues that seem insignificant on their own but added up could be costing you a fortune in wasted energy.
First seal up those cracks and broken seals on your doors and windows as draughts can increase heat loss by up to 25 per cent (yourhome.gov.au).
Next, clean the air filters in your air conditioner so it doesn’t have to work so hard cooling your house in the summer.
Then it’s time to see the light… LED lights that is. Check if any of your light fittings are using energy inefficient halogen lights. If they are, head down to your local hardware store to stock-up on energy saving LED lights which shine just as bright but without the carbon footprint.
3. Make your own power.
While solar power has a high initial cost, it’s not a bad idea to investigate the longer term cost implications. Depending on your circumstances and your local climate, the installation costs will be recouped over time and significant savings can be made for years to come.
4. Put your providers on notice.
After all your hard work transforming your home into an energy efficient haven, you may be disappointed to discover that your energy bill hasn’t decreased as much as you had hoped. This is because the bulk of your energy bills are actually made up of network charges and while reducing your energy use is important, the easiest way to save money is to make sure you are on the most cost-effective plan to begin with. This means as soon as you move it’s a great idea to call an energy comparison service like iSelect and talk them through your requirements and set-up.
They will be able to tell you whether it’s worth sticking with your existing provider or if there is something better out there. For some households the annual savings can be significant.
So seize the day and create a sustainable, energy-efficient, cost effective home. The environment and your credit card will thank you!