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Improve Your Home With Double Glazed Bifold Windows

by Greg on May 15, 2013
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If you have been looking for ways to improve your home, whether in appeal or even in value, you might like to consider investing in some double glazed bifold windows. Double glazing is a technique that is used to help reduce heat loss from inside the home and to help reduce the impact of noise […]

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How Energy Efficiency and Home Security go Together

by Greg on April 19, 2013
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There are many features of an energy efficient home that also benefit home security, and several newer systems are being designed with added efficiency in mind. Below are a few examples of the ways that security and efficiency complement each other.

Installing new, energy efficient doors and windows will save fuel costs, while also presenting a greater challenge to any potential intruders. Many companies now inject …

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Earth Hour 2013 – join the revolution

by Chris Lang on March 21, 2013
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Earth Hour is not just an hour. It’s a movement that originated in Australia and spread throughout the world, and on 23 March at 8:30 pm, it is happening again! For one hour starting at 8:30 pm we switch all the lights off to support the renewable energy revolution. Of course you can do more […]

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How to save on Christmas lights without killing the Christmas spirit

by Chris Lang on December 18, 2011
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Rising energy costs and higher electricity bills have caused many people reconsider their Christmas lights. Can you blame them? If circumstances make a person choose between having the lights display and buying presents for the kids, the outcome is quite predictable. Traditional Christmas lights are expensive, and it’s not just because the light bulbs themselves […]

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5 tips to save on utility bills this summer

by Chris Lang on December 8, 2011
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In these difficult economic times, it is even more important than ever that we find ways to conserve energy in our home. While many people think of winterizing their houses, most do not consider that the summer months can bring big energy expenses as well. Things like running cooling systems and taking extra showers can […]

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Home Energy Ratings In 2012

by Chris Lang on November 23, 2011
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There are eight million homes in Australia today and they have been reported to use up 13 percent of the total energy use of the country and are responsible for emitting 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. These figures are expected to grow in the future because of the trend towards building bigger houses. […]

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Keeping Your Home Warm, Efficient and Sustainable This Winter

by Chris Lang on July 2, 2011
Keeping Your Home Warm, Efficient and Sustainable This Winter

It really is freezing as temperatures drop to single digits, and the first thing we do is to turn on the heaters. In the back of our minds we are all too aware of the escalating energy costs and the large energy bill we will be receiving. Keeping your home warm, efficient and sustainable this […]

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Business owners: here’s a way to save energy and win $10,000

by Chris Lang on June 14, 2011
Business owners: here's a way to save energy and win $10,000

Business owners that have done something to save energy, or have ideas on what they could do to save energy get a chance to win $10,000 to lower their energy use even further. What sort of ideas? It can be anything really, from choosing to use green power (renewable energy), to installing low energy light […]

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Complications of free insulation

by Chris Lang on February 19, 2010
Complications of free insulation

No foil insulationHave you ever heard the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? Well, apparently this is the case with the government rebate on insulation. The good intentions were to help millions of Australians save up to 40% off their cooling and heating bills. The road to hell is all the trouble the demand for insulation had caused.

If you, too, consider using the free insulation offer, here is what you need to be aware of: the material used for insulation matters. Even though the company you employ to insulate your roof should be using only the approved materials that comply with Australian standards, there could be mess-ups. Two words that should be a red-light warning signal for you are Formaldehyde and Foil.

Here Nelson Larrosa from The Demand Group explains why Formaldehyde – a toxic chemical – is especially dangerous: “FORMALDEHYDE is the next dirty word that should be on everyone’s lips and if you care anything about your health, your families health and our environment, you’ll say NO to this chemical!

What does that actually mean? In Australia, there are lots of products that will contain formaldehyde in very minute quantities. Our standards only allow for products to contain very small quantities of this very harsh substance. Bodies are embalmed using this fluid, it is a known carcinogen and detrimental to the health of those who are exposed to it. The level and length of exposure will determined the severity of the illness.

So why am I telling you this? Because there are lots of imported insulation products coming into the country that contain high levels of Formaldehyde and whilst we haven’t tested any samples, there are reports of installers being violently ill whilst installing imported batts. The Formaldehyde gives off a very strong odour and this is exacerbated in a confined space, like a roof cavity.

There are many countries, like the US and Canada that have banned certain products due to them containing Formaldehyde. We have Australian Standards and all imported products should meet these standards, however this is somewhat questionable give the products we’ve seen on shelves and being installed.

Again when choosing an installer for your insulation and the product that you’re about to purchase, beware! Choose an Australian made product, preferably one that doesn’t use formaldehyde in the process to manufacture or that is used as a bonding substance. Polyester batts manufactured in Australia do not contain formaldehyde and are by far the healthiest option available.

I hope you can use this information. I have never really worried about formaldehyde until the rush of imports and the distinct odour that is associated with it. However, I would just use my nose to let me be the judge. Formaldehyde is a silent killer and I don’t want to find out that my not so keen nose missed something.”

And now let’s move on to another dangerous kind of insulation – foil insulation. According to Archicentre, use of foil insulation over ceiling joists or beneath rafters in homes can conceal structural faults and make it almost impossible for inspectors to find potential electrical, plumbing or termite problems.

While it is true that in new homes foil installed in the roof contributes to energy efficiency, we must know that retro-fitting it inside existing homes creates a whole set of issues with locating and fixing faults, and with safety.

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8 tips to cut your home bills

by Chris Lang on September 9, 2009
8 tips to cut your home bills

Cut home billsI’ve talked all about energy efficient new houses, but the reality is most of us are living in established homes. Does it mean there is nothing we can do about our energy bills?

Of course not. Here is a list of 8 things that are easy enough to do, affordable enough to implement and worth doing to pay less for cooling, heating and water. Some of these are really straight forward and I am probably not introducing new concepts – but never mind that, they still work if you give them a try.

To save water

1. Plant native plants in your garden. They are drought-tolerant and won’t consume as much water as non-native ones.

2. Replace the shower heads to water saving ones. You won’t notice the difference in the shower – but you sure will in the bill.

3. If it leaks, fix it. All the taps, inside and outside your house, all the torn drippers, everything. Do not forget to check for leaking toilets..

To save energy

4. Replace your regular light globes with energy-saving ones. Yes, they cost more, but they last longer and consume much less power so it’s worth it.

5. Replace your lighting fittings with the ones that have a ceiling fan. It will help you save on energy in the summer as well as in the winter.

During the hot months circulating air will make the room feel cooler (as much as 8 degrees cooler!), which consequently can reduce your air conditioning bills by up to 40%.

During the cold months you can run the ceiling fan in a reverse order, to push the hot air from near the ceiling (where it normally gets by laws of physics) down towards the floor. This can reduce your heating bills by 10%.

6. Use rebates available to you to insulate your house for free. It will make it cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and reduce your bills.

7. If your house has external blinds (most houses do), close them in hot days. Less sun will gets in, the temperature will be lower when you come home and you won’t have to run the aircon as much.

8. Finally, the most obvious (yet most commonly forgotten) tip: turn the lights off when you leave the room. Duh, you say… but if I had a coin for every time my partner had forgotten the light on, for the whole day, with nobody in the house, I would be filthy rich by now :)

Got any tips of your own to cut the cost of home bills?

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Green homes explained

by Chris Lang on August 12, 2009
Green homes explained

Green houseWhile we’re on this subject of green and energy efficient housing, how many of you know what 5 stars energy rating means?

5 stars rating

Just a week ago I was writing about how all the new homes in Victoria must be rated 5 stars, but I didn’t explain exactly what a house needs to have, to be rated 5 stars for energy efficiency. Here are the compulsory features:

  • A rainwater tank for toilet flushing or a solar hot water system
  • A star energy rated building fabric
  • Water efficient taps and shower heads

Now having dealt with 5 stars, we’re getting to 6 stars rating. One thing is definite – it will make the houses more expensive, but what are the benefits for occupiers? Although I couldn’t find a firm standard anywhere, I did find an example of what a 6 stars building is like.

6 stars rating

There is a suburb in Melbourne called Aurora and it is planned to have only 6 stars rated houses. And here are the features that justify the rating:

  • Solar water heating
  • Insulation of buildings
  • Houses designed with good ventilation and orientation of windows.
  • The size and orientation of the windows are such that in the summer when it’s hot, the cool air at night is able to flow rapidly through the windows and cool the house down quicker. In winter, the house manages to capture as much of sun’s heat as possible, reducing the need for artificial heating.

  • The windows are double-glazed
  • I was especially blown away by this feature:

  • The streets in Aurora are designed to capture for optimal capturing of solar power. Wow.
  • The way homes are positioned enables them to make the most of natural lighting, which means that less electricity is used.
  • They also are using a thing called rain gardens.
  • I don’t know about you but I’ve first heard about it just yesterday. Apparently rain garden is a garden designed around driveways, roofs, footpaths etc, and the it is designed to absorb as much of stormwater as possible. That kills 2 birds with one stone – the people will use less water in the garden and there will be less water flowing into the storm drain, which causes all kinds of nasty things.

    And the question of the day is: Would you consider making your next home a 6 stars one and why?

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