You don’t need to start from scratch to have a more efficient home. Find out how you can boost your home’s environmental credentials with some smart retrofits
Building regulations require today’s new homes to be more eco-friendly than ever before. But if, like most Australians, you’re not living in a freshly constructed home, you’ll need to embrace retrofitting if you want to improve your home’s sustainability.
“A lot of homeowners are daunted by the word ‘retrofit’,” says Brett McKenzie, CEO of Sustainable, a Queensland building design and construction firm specialising in environmentally friendly modifications.
“They assume it’s going to be an expensive and complicated process, but retrofitting just means updating your home with the technology and materials we have available to us today. It’s making small but effective improvements within the bounds of your existing home’s design.”
Here are three ways you can instantly boost your homes green credentials.
1. PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what works best to boost sustainability, says Brett, but he believes in improving every home’s passive solar design by exploiting its orientation and ensuring its eaves and exterior shading are up to the job, and facilitating good cross-ventilation.
Air-leakage prevention is the number-one eco retrofit suggested to homeowners by Nick Mayo, sustainability adviser and owner of Canberra’s Sustainable House.
“It is so important to draught-proof your home. Air gaps around doors, windows, vents and even powerpoints are the cause of so much energy wastage.” He advises choosing quality seals for doors, which cost more but could last up to 30 years.
3. INSULATION, SOLAR POWER AND HEATING
Insulation is the next thing to check, says Nick. “Get an infrared camera and take pictures of your home’s exterior. Using thermal images, you can determine the amount of heat loss from your walls and roof, and pinpoint exactly where the greatest losses are occurring.”
If you identify major weak spots, blow-in insulation for your walls can be very effective, he adds, noting that rockwool is his preferred material.
Both Brett and Nick agree that putting in photovoltaic panels or a solar hot-water system is a smart sustainability move because they’ll pay for themselves in a couple of years and minimise energy costs after that.
by SARAH PICKET via homestolove.com.au