Live Well in Your Home

Pot plants placed together create their own microclimate, reducing their need for frequent water. Watering longer but less often encourages plants to grow deeper roots, making them more resilient to drought conditions.

Tips for Outdoor Areas

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

Use a broomoutdoor-areas

Clean down paths and driveways with a broom or rake rather than use a leaf blower or hose.

Group pot plants together

Pot plants placed together create their own microclimate, which can reduce the number of times you need to water.

Manage the lawn

If you are responsible for the garden then keep grass well aerated to minimise run-off. Your landlord might like to consider replacing lawn with mulch or a native grassland area using local grasses.

Get rid of weeds

Weeds use up precious water so keep gardens free from weeds.

Maintain the soil and plants

Break up compacted soil to increase water absorption and fertilise regularly. Plants are healthier and use less water when pruned regularly.

Water at the appropriate time

Water the garden early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce water evaporation. Watering longer but less often will encourage the plants to grow deeper roots, which will help them grow more resilient to drought conditions. Make sure any watering complies with local water restrictions.

Compost your food scraps

Install a compost bin or worm farm for your food scraps to reduce the amount of organic matter going to land ll. Organic matter buried in land ll produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The compost you’ll produce is also great for your garden.

If you live in an apartment consider buying one of the small composting systems that use a mixture of bacteria, fungi and yeasts to produce high-grade fertiliser for pot plants.

Mulch garden beds

Mulch on garden beds and pots can help reduce water evaporation by up to 70%. The mulch shields the soil from the sun and reduces run-off during watering. In strata communities no changes can be made to common property gardens without approval from the owners corporation.

A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission and the approval of the owners corporation for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.

Add compost or a wetting agent

Add compost and wetting agents, available from plant nurseries, to soil to help it hold water, reducing the umber of times you’ll need to water.

Consider a balcony garden

To ensure your garden thrives, check for wind and the amount of sun and plant accordingly. Make sure there is appropriate water drainage to avoid water run-off onto balconies below. For tips on how to create a balcony garden, see our post on Gardening in Small Spaces.

Consider a low water garden

Low water gardens, sometimes referred to as water-wise or drought-resistant gardens, contain plants that are suitable for dry climates like Australia. Consider adding low water and native plants to reduce the amount of water used in your garden.

Capture local rainwater

Install a rainwater tank, divert tank overflows and roof run-off to the garden, and use grey water (see below) where possible and appropriate. In strata developments rainwater tanks can’t be installed on common property without approval from the owners corporation.

About grey water

Grey water is relatively clean domestic waste water (from baths, showers, washing machines) that can be reused on the garden in most locations. Ensure any grey water is not stored for any more than 24 hours, and check your local council’s laws regarding the use of grey water. Be mindful of your physical ability to carry water containers. Grey water can mean anything from simply bucketing your shower water on to the garden through to a dedicated, council approved, domestic grey water treatment system which collects, stores and then hygienically treats the grey water for use.

Reduce the temperature of hot water

Check the thermostat setting on your storage hot water system is set at 60°C. If it’s set higher than 60°C you will be wasting energy, but any lower could pose a health risk as harmful bacteria may thrive. Instantaneous hot water systems should be set to no more than 50°C.

Setting the temperature on some types of hot water systems requires a plumber; for rental properties, contact your landlord to have the system assessed.

A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.

Insulate your hot water system

For electric hot water systems located outside, consider insulating the tank and pipes – you can get hot water tank blankets online, or even use some spare insulating material – do not insulate a gas hot water service for safety reasons. A valve cosy can be placed on the safety valve to help save energy.

A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.

Check the hot water system overflow

Check the amount of water dripping from the overflow pipe of the hot water system. Place a bucket under the overflow pipe to collect water to re-use on the garden. For rental properties, if the overflow is excessive contact the landlord to have the system assessed.

A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.

Invest in a portable rainwater tank

Rainwater tanks that come with a lid, stand and plastic tap are available in small sizes of around a few hundred litres. Just position your tank under a convenient hole in a downpipe to collect water. For rental properties, if there isn’t a convenient hole, ask permission from your landlord to make a hole and seal it up when you move. In strata developments portable rainwater tanks can’t be installed on common property without approval from the owners corporation.

For a rainwater tank to be effective, make sure that it is clean. The greatest risk of contamination comes from your roof and gutters.

A note for renters: you will need your landlord’s permission for this change. See our Rent Smart Guide for information.

Pools and spas

If you have a multi-speed pump, running it on the lowest speed, even if you have to run it a lot longer, is still an energy saver. Energy losses in pipes and filters drop by much more than the reduction in flow, e.g. a 20% reduction in flow rate cuts losses by about 40%, more than offsetting the extra time you may run the pump. Regular cleaning of the filter before the pressure drop builds up also cuts energy consumption, and because it allows higher flow, shorter pump time can be used. Pool covers are improving and cut chemical costs, as well as keeping the pool warmer and reducing evaporation.

If you have a spa, heat it only when you intend using it. Keeping it heated the whole time consumes a large amount of energy.

Important Note

In strata developments almost every outdoor area is considered common property with the exception of some outdoor areas for townhouses and community associations. As a general rule nothing can be installed on, or any changes made to common property, without approval of the owners corporation.

Appliances

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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 App to find the running costs of your household appliances anytime or anywhere, on an iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Android™ and Windows Phone.

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

In addition to their expertise in residential real estate, The Centre for Liveability Real Estate also works collaboratively with the sustainable design, construction, manufacturing and assessment and industries in the development of information on this site.

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