Summer is with us and with the mercury heading towards the 30s, now is the time to prepare.
Sustainability Victoria’s CEO Stan Krpan said the authority’s ‘Summer Wise’ tips offered practical advice to help households stay cool.
“In a climate change environment simple, often inexpensive, measures taken before extreme conditions hit means you’re more comfortable, saving money and helping to fight climate change.”
“We can all do something, but people living in older homes can benefit most,” Mr Krpan said.
“In summer, ensuring the house is draught-proofed and insulated, using curtains, external blinds and pergolas, even shade trees and vines can prevent cool air escaping or warm air getting in.
“With the sun shining on uninsulated walls, particularly bricks and especially if there is an extended hot spell, the heat can keep radiating for some time.
“For every square metre of unshaded window the heat getting into the home is about the same as the heat output of a small bar radiator. Having eight square metres of unshaded windows, is like having eight bar radiators running inside the house, in summer.
“Importantly, many things can reduce the use of air conditioning, and help to get better value from it if you do. Set the thermostat at 24-26 degrees as each degree lower increases cooling costs by 10 per cent,” Mr Krpan said.
“Recently released Sustainability Victoria research found homes built before 2005 – nearly 80 per cent of all Victorian homes - had an energy efficiency rating of just 1.8 Stars, compared with the 6 Stars required of new homes.”
“Our research found energy bills in older homes can be slashed through a variety of upgrades.
Upgrading older homes to 5 Stars and increasing the efficiency of lighting and, over time, appliances could cut average gas and electricity use by 45 per cent.
Sustainability Victoria’s Smarter Choice guide has an appliance running cost calculator and information on Energy Rating Labels.
Some energy efficiency products can be bought with help from the Energy Saver Incentive program.
Top tips to have a cool summer
- Unshaded north, east or west-facing windows, let summer heat into your home. Blinds and awnings, window film, pergolas and even verandas help keep the house cool. External shading is generally more effective than internal shading because it stops the heat getting into the house.
- Insulation has summer and winter benefits and is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve household energy efficiency and comfort. More than 40 per cent of older (pre-2005) Victorian homes have inadequate ceiling insulation which means they get hotter than necessary in summer and colder in winter. Topping up ceiling insulation, and installing it in walls during renovations, provides extra savings.
- Draught proof your home and keep hot air out during the day and cool in air in. You’ll stay more comfortable and reduce summer cooling and winter heating costs.
- Ceiling fans are incredibly cheap to run, and can help keep you comfortable when temperatures start to climb.
- Use the energy rating labels on appliances to help you invest in a high efficiency model. If buying an air conditioner have an authorised installer do a heat load assessment for your home to help determine what size unit you need. Avoid running air conditioning all night, unless you have to.