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Smarter living in a changing environment


Smarter living in a changing environment

All Sunshine Coast homeowners can do their bit to make their homes more energy efficient, comfortable and affordable. WORDS: Tracey Johnstone.

There are simple things Coast homeowners can do to reduce their cost of living and improve how they live with the changing environment.

Because many new homes are based on a generic Australian building type which don’t necessarily address the Coast climate, Australian Institute of Architects Sunshine Coast Branch chair Liza Neil recommends setting up your home as you would approach looking after your body in the summer – slip, slop, slap and hydrate.

Start with slopping on the sunscreen such as light-coloured paint on the external walls which “can make a massive difference”.

Then slap on a light-coloured roof – it can make six degrees of difference to the internal temperature of a home. Under the roof and inside the walls, add lots of insulation to help control the internal temperature.

“We need to create homes that aren’t ovens, but we don’t want Eskies,” Ms Neil tells My Weekly Preview.

Slip into your house design wide eaves that will help keep both the sun off and the rain out. If that isn’t possible, or allowable where you are building, then add screens, window awnings, external blinds and trees, which can allow you to open windows to catch a cooling breeze.

Ms Neil suggests when buying into an estate, owners should ask for a product that “opens to the north”.  And aim to have your main living area facing north.

“Sometimes it doesn’t cost much to ask for things to be changed a little bit,” she adds.

North-east-facing windows, an outside deck or courtyard is where you will catch the best of the summer breezes and protection against the cold winter

You can reduce your energy costs even if you don’t face north by controlling the sun on your windows and walls. “Preferably you should shade the windows with something you can adjust,” Ms Neil recommends.

Solar panels are a no-brainer when it comes to energy independence, Ms Neil says.  “Solar hot water is also worth doing because that will reduce people’s energy
bill by about 30 per cent,” she adds.

She also recommends an inverter, which allows for battery storage to be added on when it becomes more affordable.

Finally, hydrate your home with a rainwater tank that can supply water for your garden and car washing, and more.

It’s about being inventive and creative. “You have to be active to make it affordable and comfortable,” she says.

Find out more

Check out these websites for more energy and bill-saving ideas.

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