As we head into cooler weather, here are some key tips on how to create a warm, dry home while keeping costs down and caring for the planet.
Reduce your shower time to 4 mins and install an efficient showerhead
Taking a short shower with an efficient showerhead not only conserves water – it can save the average Auckland household (with mains pressure hot water) up to $1000/year* on water and power bills. Look for an efficient shower head with a 3-star water rating and choose your favourite 4-minute song to shower to.
Ensure your home is well insulated
Upgrading home insulation will stop heat escaping, keep you warmer and could save up to $400/year on energy bills.
As a simple rule of thumb, if you can see the ceiling joists inside the roof cavity you need to top up your ceiling insulation. Old foil underfloor insulation should be replaced by more effective bulk insulation. You can install some types of insulation yourself, or talk to an expert about what is best for your home.
Replace your lights with LEDs
LED light bulbs use up to 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs, while producing the same amount of light, and last much longer. Over their lifetime, you can save $290 for every standard 100W bulb replaced by an LED. If you have CFL or Halogen bulbs, replacing these with LEDs can also generate good savings.
If you have downlights installed prior to 2012, or if you can replace the bulb in them, change them to modern LED downlight fittings that can have insulation fitted over them. For every 1cm gap in insulation, you can lose up to 30 per cent of insulation performance.
Improve your curtains and blinds
Double-layer floor-length curtains with a close-fitting track can work as effectively as double glazing on your windows to retain heat and reduce your energy bills. Lined and well-fitted roman blinds or honeycomb blinds also keep the heat in well.
To get the most from your curtains/blinds, open them fully during the day and close at dusk. The energy from the sun coming through an average-sized north-facing window is equivalent to running a panel heater in winter.
Draught stopping is easy to do yourself using various products from hardware stores and can save up to $70/year. “V profile” or “double round” draught stopping is good for sealing around windows and doors. For draughts under doors use a brush strip or a door snake.
Make small changes to your laundry routine
Save money on your power bills by washing clothes once you have a full load, in cold water and using the line to dry them. The average New Zealand household could save up to $130/year by taking these actions.
If necessary, finish drying clothes in an externally vented drier for a short time rather than making your home damp by drying clothes on a rack inside. This can mean you won’t need to use a dehumidifier for many hours to remove damp remove moisture that’s escaped into the room.
Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
Hot water cylinders older than 2003 aren’t insulated very well and should have a cylinder wrap and pipe lagging around the first 1-2m of pipe coming out of the cylinder. Your cupboard will still be warm and dry for storing linen and you could save up to $80/year on your energy bills.
Choose efficient home heating
Heating your home efficiently could save up to $350/year. A heat pump can provide three to four times more heat per unit of electricity compared to a plug-in heater and is a more efficient way to heat living areas. Set your heat pump to 18-21 °C, as each degree higher increases energy usage by 10%. Also cleaning your heat-pump filters twice a year avoids filters getting clogged and using more power to run.
Plug-in electric heaters are okay for small rooms that are not occupied for long periods of time, but otherwise can be expensive to run. with a portable electric heater to avoid overheating.
The World Health Organisation recommends a daily minimum temperature of 18°C (20°C for children/elderly) and nightly minimum 16°C (18°C for children/elderly).
Install an energy-efficient hot water system
You could save upto $500 a year by installing a solar hot water system or hot water heat pump.
A solar hot water system (solar thermal) gives you free hot water in the summer but requires a boost in the winter from electricity, gas or a wetback. Hot water heat pumps deliver energy savings year-round and can be retrofitted to an existing cylinder, or as an all-in-one system.
If you add solar panels to your roof, an electric hot water cylinder or hot water heat pump can act like a battery to store the energy generated in the form of hot water, for later use.
Get personalised home performance advice
Complete your own free Homefit online check to make sure you’ve covered all bases to create a healthy, safe and efficient home. This includes the optional step of hiring an independent assessor to look over your home and certify if it meets the Homefit standard.
Auckland Council also provides free personalised and impartial home performance advice. Virtual home visits are available during the lockdown period. Our home performance advisor will work with you to find the right options for your home and budget. This advice is free to Auckland residents, whether you are a homeowner, landlord or tenant. Book your session today here.
Inspired to find out more about how you can save money and have a warmer, drier, healthier home? Visit Live Lightly for more ideas and advice.
*Saving estimate based on saving in electricity and water costs for a 3 person household with shower flow rate of 12L/min reducing to 9L/m, and reducing shower time from 10mins to 4min
All other savings are estimates based on a 100m2 Auckland home with average insulation and typical heating patterns, for a 3 person household.