Create a comfortable winter bed
In cold weather, rather than heating your bedroom, keep your bed warm. Dress your bed with flannelette sheets and a woolen underlay. Keep your feet warm with a hot water bottle/heated rice bag and, if necessary, use extra blankets on your bed.
Pelmets are covers over the top of curtains, and they stop heat from the room being lost through the window. Sealing the curtains at the top is critical to blocking air convection currents from circulating. If your home doesn’t have pelmets ask your landlord if permanent pelmets can be installed. Alternatively, many curtains can have a strip of light wood or plastic fitted between the window frame and the top of the curtain track; these are much less obtrusive and work as well as a pelmet.
A note for renters: you will need your landlords permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.
Use timer switches
Set timers on your heater or cooler to switch off when not needed. Know when you’re going to go to bed or leaving the house and turn the heating off a half hour before – you won’t notice the house cooling and it can slice 10% off your energy bill. If you can, try to avoid turning the heater or cooler on in the morning before you head to work. Remember: Don’t leave your heating on. It’s a myth that keeping the heating on 24/7 (or even overnight) is more efficient than turning it off.
Direct the heat
If your house has central heating consider buying vent directors. These can be placed over vents to help direct the air into the centre of the room instead of straight up to the ceiling — and they’re not expensive.
Seal up gaps and draughts
Stop draughts by closing gaps around doors and windows. Self-adhesive door and window seals are cheap, easy to install and removable when you leave. Or you could use a “door snake”. For rental properties, ask your landlord if you can install permanent draught stoppers and seals around doors and windows. Blu-Tack cardboard covers over passive vents and even consider sealing internal bathroom and toilet doors – these are traditionally cold spaces and toilets often have a permanent opening to the outside.
External apartment doors are fire-rated. Installing permanent draught stoppers that involve penetrating the door in any way could breach the door’s fire certification. In these cases, approval must be sought from the owners corporation.
A skylight is a great source of natural light, but you need to ensure the light box is in good condition, it seals well at the roofline and has clear plastic (or a “light diffuser”) at the ceiling level to prevent the warm air pooling up high.
A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission and may need the approval of the owners corporation for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.
Shade your windows
External shading of windows is twice as effective as internal blinds in keeping out the heat, so in summer place a removable external blind, shade cloth, sun sail or outdoor umbrella over a window to shield it from the sun. The rule of thumb is “if the sun strikes the glass, the heat is inside the house”. If you want to install a permanent shade solution attached to the house, ask your landlord. Consider investing in DIY window insulation which acts like double-glazing but is much more affordable. It consists of a thin, clear plastic film taped to the inside of the window frame but not on the glass itself. You will need your landlord’s permission to do this. In strata developments windows are generally common property, as is the outside of a building, so you will need approval from the owners corporation.
Shade your outside paving in summer
Concreted and paved areas outside the house trap and pool hot air around the house. Installing removable shading can make these areas more comfortable to use as well as reducing an envelope of hot air forming around the premises. However, paved areas do heat up and re-radiate heat towards windows, often up under shades, reducing the shade’s effectiveness. They also keep radiating for some time after dark, preventing the house from cooling off. Adding copious numbers of leafy pot plants is one of the simplest solutions to help cool the area. In strata developments these areas are generally common property so you will need approval from the owners corporation.
A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.
Close up ventilation outlets
Check whether chimney ventilation outlets, flues and extraction fans can be sealed when not in use. You can buy removable dampers that can be placed over extraction fans which vent into roof spaces. Note: You shouldn’t close up ventilation outlets in a house with un-flued gas heaters.
In buildings with centralised exhaust systems do not seal the extraction vent. Also be aware some buildings have smoke sensors in the air conditioning ventilation system – especially multi-storey buildings – whereby if a fire occurs an automatic extraction system operates to remove smoke from the building – never close off these vents.
If you have evaporative air conditioning, purchase AC DraftShields, which require no adhesive tapes, and put them over the outlets in winter to prevent heat from escaping up them. You can even stuff small square pillows or foam sponge in vent outlets to eliminate warm air escaping. Covering the outside of the vent with several layers of plastic wrap also works well.
Insulation is critical to a home’s ability to be heated and cooled efficiently, so if your rental property is uninsulated ask the landlord to install some in the ceiling if it’s accessible. In the ACT, the increased energy rating (EER) of the house can also increase the sale price of the property. In strata developments ceiling spaces are generally common property so you will need approval from the owners corporation.
If you have insulation you should ask the landlord to check for gaps or batts that have been scattered from other ceiling work; even small gaps (as little as 5%) in the ceiling insulation can reduce its overall effectiveness by more than 15%.
Reach for the stars
When buying new appliances, whether for the kitchen, the laundry or the living room, look for the Energy Rating Label. The label gives the appliances a star rating between 1 and 10 stars. The greater the number of stars the higher the efficiency.
The Energy Rating Label scheme compares the energy consumption of electrical products and appliances to help you with your purchasing choices. The star ratings of all labelled products and appliances are also available on the Energy Rating website.
When comparing different appliances or equipment it’s important to look at comparative energy consumption, which is shown in kilowatt hours, rather than just the number of stars.
The Energy Rating App
Download the Energy Rating Calculator App to find the running costs of your household appliances anytime or anywhere, on an iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Android™ and Windows Phone.