It's easy being green
Saving money and being kind to the planet at the same time. You can do just that with Hickinbotham’s range of extras and some of our energy saving tips.
When you go into someone’s living room and it’s filled with lovely warm winter sunshine, that room has a northern orientation. In summer, that same room might be cooler because the hot sun is high in the sky and can’t get past the eaves and through the window. So a northern orientation lowers energy bills because heating and cooling happens more naturally.
The average South Australian home uses 600 litres of water every day. That’s a lot of water in a country that regularly battles through droughts. But modern water-saving devices can slash that figure substantially. Some things to consider – every year a SmartFlush toilet can save up to 35,000 litres of water and a water efficient shower head can save a further 17,885 litres plus 437 kg of carbon dioxide. Simple tap aerators can cut water use by up to 40%. When people talk about water efficiency, WELS will probably come up. WELS is the Water Efficiency Labelling Standards Scheme that gives a zero to six star rating to household plumbing components.
All Hickinbotham homes include as standard features, water efficient shower heads and WELS-rated tapware. We also offer four star, dual-flush toilet systems. Hickinbotham has always been an innovator in making better use of rain water. So all our homes come with the option of having a rainwater tank plumbed in for use in the laundry and the toilet. We can also install a system that allows you to switch all your taps between rainwater and mains water.
There’s something wonderful about gentle breezes circulating through a house on a hot summer’s day. You can achieve this ventilation by aligning your windows and doors. Adding roof ventilators also helps cooling by removing the hot summer air that collects above your ceiling. Once installed, roof ventilators cost nothing to operate because they run on solar energy.
Solar is one of the most rapidly advancing energy technologies. By installing solar panels in your home, you can reduce your energy bills and your carbon dioxide output. The panels are placed on your roof or you can use a free-standing unit. Either way, an inverter will also be installed to convert the DC electricity from the panels into home-friendly 240V AC power. How much solar you want is up to you. A 450 watt system powers your lights, TV, video, microwave and toaster. A 3000 watt system powers an averaged size home.
One of the easiest ways to reduce power bills and carbon dioxide is with solar hot water. Solar collectors install easily on the roof and heated water is stored in a tank. This can save a household up to 80% on hot water costs. If you want to insure against cloudy days, a gas boosted solar hot water system will do the trick, delivering 90% emissions free hot water.
A well insulated home can cut bills for heating and cooling by up to 50%. And when your energy bills are lower, so is your carbon dioxide. Hickinbotham offers high grade insulation such as rock wool insulation which has great thermal and acoustic properties and is fire resistant.
It’s amazing to think that lighting represents 12% of all the greenhouse gas emissions produced by Australian homes. The good news is, you can easily cut your home’s lighting-related emissions by up to 50% or even more. The starting point is using the new generation lighting technologies. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) fit almost all lamps and downlights but they use up to 30% less power than filament bulbs and last longer. They’re also four times more efficient than halogens. LED lights are the latest and they’re even more efficient than CFLs and last even longer. One thing CFLs and LEDs have in common is that they will shrink your lighting bills significantly. Be aware that each lighting option has its own characteristics (for example, not all are dimmable), so it’s important to talk to a lighting expert about what’s best for your situation.
Up to 40% of a home’s heating and cooling is lost through windows. That’s why windows are rated for their efficiency through the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS), which gives a rating out of five.You may want to consider double-glazing your windows. That’s where each window actually has two panes of glass with a small air space between. Double-glazing has excellent insulation properties, reducing energy bills by up to 60%. It also keeps out noise.Other options include laminated glass and tinting which can reduce heat transference, UV and glare.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Most appliances these days are energy rated and different brands of the same appliance can have very different ratings.Here’s the bottom line – the bigger the star rating, the smaller your energy bills will be and the less carbon dioxide your home will generate.
Chances are, a big percentage of your energy bills will come from heating and cooling. But the great thing about building your own home is that you can build in climate control that will reduce your overall costs. Here are some of the options.
Inverter air conditioning: Standard air conditioners go full speed to reach the desired temperature then turn off till they have to start again. Inverter air conditioners ramp themselves gently up and down to maintain a temperature. It makes for a smoother, more energy efficient process. Inverters are particularly efficient in situations where they run for a long time. They also heat up a space quickly.
Ducted reverse cycle air conditioning: Most heaters create their own heat with an element or flame. Reverse cycle air conditioning takes heat from the air around it (yes, even in winter) and circulates that. That means it can heat for a third of the cost of a bar heater trying to do the same work. When it comes to cooling, the system removes the heat from the room then circulates the refrigerated air back. By ducting a reverse cycle air conditioner, the unit’s air can go across your whole home or into designated zones.
Multi-reverse cycle air conditioning: This is where each room contains an air conditioning unit that is connected to an outside motor. This allows energy efficiency while providing individual climate control in all the rooms.
Ceiling fans: These low key wonders punch well above their weight. For the price of running a light globe, they can reduce air conditioning bills by up to 40%. In winter you can run them in reverse to bring warm air down from the ceiling. You can circulate even more air by using super efficient fans.
On a hot summer’s day, heat can flood into a house through east and west facing walls and windows. Many Hickinbotham designs use verandahs and eaves to help keep the heat outside. But you should think about using awnings and roller shutters as well. Take a look at the garden as well a beautiful deciduous climber on a well placed pergola can keep out summer heat and bring in winter warmth.