Category Archives: energy savings

Aussies share how to upgrade your home to keep cool during summer

The key to affordably cooling a home is diagnosing why the building is hot, according to architect and Envirotecture director Andy Marlow.

“Normally, it’s because you’ve got poor shading over the windows,” he says. “The sun getting into the building has a huge impact.”

Marlow says windows are a major source of heat gain into a home, and protecting these surfaces from direct heat is the upgrade that delivers the most bang for buck for home owners.

“Fundamentally, the aim is to keep the sun off the windows in summer. It’s the single most cost-effective thing you could do.”

Options for shading windows include fixed or retractable awnings, shutters and blinds, but exterior protection is best.

“Blinds are much more effective when they’re outside the glass than inside the glass,” he says. “Once the heat passes through the glass, it’s inside your building.”

Marlow says home owners should also investigate the quality of their windows and doors, and replace ineffective components that are letting heat in.

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Four myths busted about creating a sustainable home

contain house

It doesn’t need to be quirky

A sustainable home doesn’t need to be built from a shipping container or rammed earth.

It doesn’t need to be expensive

Andrew Reddaway, an energy analyst at sustainable advocacy firm Renew, says while adding sustainable elements to your home can vary in costs, there are cheap fixes that most people can implement.

“There’s the old saying – reduce, reuse, recycle – so you can do that without any upfront costs at all,” he said.

“Just reduce the amount of stuff that you’re buying, reduce the amount of energy and water that you use, recycling, composting – all of those things are great. And there’s a couple of other things like if you’ve got a reverse-cycle air conditioner, then you can use that for heating instead of gas. That’s a more efficient way to do it.”

You don’t need to make changes all at once

Not everybody has the funds or the ability to start building a sustainable home from the ground up. Adding sustainable elements to your home can be a gradual process.

“There are ways to stage your build so that you can incrementally implement sustainable solutions over time,” said Dicker.

“You can spread the cost over time so obviously insulation in the walls, that kind of needs to go in first, but the rain tanks and the solar panels, they can go later if your budget doesn’t allow it.”

Small adjustments make a big difference

“Sealing up little cracks and gaps around windows and doors – that’s very cost-effective [and] very easy to do as a do-it-yourself job. [You] can actually make a big difference when you don’t have those draughts coming through,” said Reddaway.

He also recommends replacing halogen down lights with LED ones, as a single one can accumulate as much energy as a fridge.

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Tips on keeping house cool

My Tips for San Diego:


1. Shade the concrete slab in your backyard or front porch.   Your concrete slab is like a pizza stone, it captures and holds heat right against your home.  If you can’t afford a permanent structure you can use pop-up canopies or sun sail awnings or even an inexpensive tarp tied to posts.   We like the temp solution because in the winter we welcome the heat collection.

2. If you have a attached garage or built-in garage;  The garage can become like an oven holding heat and radiating to inner rooms.  Open the side door (if you have one) and raise the garage door a few inches.  Get air circulating. If you do not have a side door still raise the garage door a couple of inches and run a fan.  If worried about security only do when you are at home.

3.  Consider replacing or adding to your attic insulation.

Here’s a refresher on how to keep cool, keep the power on for everyone and keep that electric bill low. from:

Turn off what you can. “While keeping comfortable and running your AC,” Horowitz says, “be extra careful to turn off things you aren’t using and to delay washing your clothes or running your dishwasher till right before you go to bed, when there is less electricity demand on the system.”

Seal the leaks. Remember how you work to make sure drafts don’t get through windows and doors in the winter? Those same cracks can allow cool air to escape if you are using an air conditioner.

Installing weather stripping around windows and doors is a year-round fix, but it can’t hurt to break out the same draft catchers you use at the bottom of your door or on a drafty windowsill in winter.

Use the ceiling fan. If you’ve got one, set it to run counterclockwise so that it stirs the air and pushes cold air back down to you. Moving air around with any kind of fan really does work. The wind chill created actually increases the rate at which heat is displaced from your body.

Be smart about the thermostat. The NRDC recommends a programmable thermostat, so that you can easily set central air conditioning higher when you’re not home, but have it work to lower the temperature before you get back. “It’s OK to crank up the air conditioning when you are home, but when you aren’t going to be there, select a set point around 78 degrees,” Horowitz says.


Window-unit air conditioners should be turned off when you’re not at home, with one exception: Make sure your pets can stay cool. Horowitz suggests leaving one window unit on so that pets don’t overheat. “This is particularly important if you live on the top floor of a building, as top floors can get particularly hot during the day” he says. “When you get home turn (the room air conditioners) on, close the doors and your room should cool off pretty quickly.

Keep the sun out. Heat gain from sunshine pouring through your windows can have a huge impact on indoor temperatures. “You want to pull the blinds down and close curtains during hot summer days when the sun is out to minimize the heat entering your house through the windows,” Horowitz says. “Later in the day and early mornings, you can keep them open and enjoy the light and view.”


Check the details. “Another no-brainer is to check and replace, as needed, the filter on your AC,” Horowitz says. “That way, you aren’t making your equipment work harder than it needs to and you will also have a lower energy bill.”

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