News & Views
31st October 2018
Powering your home the EnergySmart way
With energy usage and prices continually on the rise, the incentive is increasing for people to move away from traditional energy sources such as coal and fossil fuels to more eco-friendly energy sources. There are numerous opportunities to become more energy smart and efficient, by using cleaner, less costly and more sustainable renewable energy sources to power our homes.
Ask someone if their home is ‘energy smart’, and a common answer these days may be “Well, I have solar”. Not surprising, as over 16% of Australian homes are now fitted with solar panels - that’s over 1.5 million homes with shiny black panels on the roof. But does simply having solar panels mean your home is as ‘energy smart’ as it possibly can be?
Solar is only part of the equation. Changing your halogen and incandescent lighting to LED helps to a degree. Switching to appliances that consume less energy based on the ‘star’ energy rating system also contributes to improving your home’s energy consumption levels. Lighting and appliances, however, make up less than half of our electricity usage. Factor in things like space heating and cooling, and suddenly there is some scope for even greater energy savings.
So how can you as an energy consumer, continue to uncover cost savings whilst powering up your home via renewable energy sources?
As briefly mentioned, solar is the most well-known (and obvious) option of renewable energy. Solar panels are typically installed on the roof, however, they can also be installed in your yard if this position is optimal for power generation. Solar panels are a great way to cut costs on your home’s energy usage, as long as you use most of your power during the daylight hours. If you are smart about what appliances you use during the day, for example, setting timers on your dishwasher and washing machine, so that they turn on during the day whilst you’re at work – your solar energy will go much further.
What makes solar panels even more attractive is that any excess electricity that is generated through your home’s solar panels can be fed back into the grid to subsidise your grid-based power consumption. Not only does using solar panels help use cleaner, more sustainable energy, they can also save you money on monthly power bills!
Tesla Powerwall battery storage
It’s been identified that almost two-thirds of West Aussies are keen to install batteries in their homes to store excess power from solar panels.
As Tesla continues to extend their influence in the renewable energy world, their latest rechargeable battery is bringing this dream closer to reality than ever before. The Tesla Powerwall is essentially a heavy-duty rechargeable battery that can store several kilowatt-hours of electricity. This battery can be fitted within your home providing an alternative source of energy. Technically, the Powerwall isn’t ‘renewable energy’, but its lithium backed rechargeable battery makes it much cleaner compared to traditional fossil fuels or power generated from the grid.
Using battery storage like the Tesla Powerwall works best used in combination with a source of renewable energy (such as solar panels) so that the Powerwall can make use of solar-generated energy during the night when solar panels aren’t producing power.
Wind turbine power generation
Wind turbines are not typically the most common source of energy in standard residential areas, but houses on large properties or in rural areas can certainly take advantage of energy generated by wind turbines. Perth is the second windiest capital city in the world, and if you have enough space a wind turbine could save you big bucks. Wind power is typically more stable than solar and with a sufficiently sized wind turbine, you can easily generate the energy to meet most of your electricity needs (space permitting of course!)
There are a few downsides to wind turbines, such as aesthetics and noise factors, that make them less popular in residential areas. They can take up substantial space, and depending on where you live, local laws and zoning regulations may outright forbid it. However, if your house is situated in an area that can take advantage of local or community wind farms, it can certainly be a viable option for increasing your use of renewable energy.
Solar water heating
While some people may not want (or be able) to power their entire home with solar energy, it is possible to use solar power for specific appliances such as solar hot water units. Solar hot water units use the sun to heat a reserve of water, which can then be pumped through your radiator or out your taps or showerheads. This system is much cheaper than using gas or electricity to heat your water and is typically easier to install than solar panels.
Consider undertaking an energy audit of your home
Not all homes are created equal. To truly unlock your home’s full potential when it comes to energy savings and efficiency, its best to consider a complete energy audit of your home.
A NECA EnergySmart accredited electrician can do just that. In addition to being an industry accredited professional, they can provide you with an audit of your home’s energy usage and provide tailored energy efficiency recommendations for your home. Take a look at the following example.
A space heater, say a 7.1 kW unit, could cost you $1.88 per hour to run. If you run it for six hours a day during winter, you could pay over $1,000 for the season! After conducting an energy audit, the NECA EnergySmart electrician noted that your roof isn’t insulated. A lot of that heat is being lost through the roof as a result.
The recommendation is to install R4.0 insulation in your ceiling. The cost for R4.0 insulation in a 200m2 home is approximately $1,560, however, it could mean that you now only need to use your heater for three hours per day during winter. Your return on investment is realised in just over three years. But double down, because your summer electricity bill is also reduced, as your summer cooling is also halved!
Of course, a NECA Energy Smart electrician can also identify possible savings with your home’s lighting as well as cooling and heating. They can even help transform your home into a truly ‘smart’ home, by tapping into the Internet of Things (IoT), and enabling your home’s energy to be controllable via a smart device or even voice activation.
The switched-on, renewable energy efficient home is here now, and with access to industry leaders in home energy automation, an accredited NECA EnergySmart electrician can provide you with a comprehensive energy efficiency assessment for your home.
Learn more about NECA EnergySmart and find your nearest NECA EnergySmart electrician and consider an energy audit today.