Heritage and decades-old homes often have low energy performance because of outdated electrical, leaks, lack of proper insulation and overall compromised construction.
It’s also the case with relatively old homes with outdated wiring, switchboard and other electrical fixtures. Month after month, these homes waste energy and increase the electrical bill. Instead of getting more value out of every dollar you pay, you pay it on monthly utilities that could have been reduced if your home is more energy efficient.
So how to make an old home more energy efficient? Let’s start with the definition and overall goal. Then we’ll discuss a few specific tips to make it happen.
What is energy efficiency?
It’s about getting the most benefit out of every dollar you spend for electricity. It could be about paying less for air conditioning and still achieving your desired comfort. It could also be about paying lower bills than your neighbours (although you’re all having the same lifestyles).
Whichever is the case, better energy efficiency would benefit your wallet. And yes, this means protecting the environment too. Lower energy consumption means reducing the impact to the environment (e.g. lower fuel usage and carbon footprint).
Further modernisation and our improving lifestyles increase our electrical usage. Back then people just need lighting for their homes. But now there are over a dozen of things in our homes that rely on electricity. Our homes and lifestyles now demand more electricity as a result. This is inevitable and the only practical thing we can do is make our places more energy efficient.
Thankfully, many qualified electricians already do this kind of job. They already gained knowledge and expertise in installing green solutions to lower your utility bill. This can all happen with relatively low investment while keeping your desired comfort level (no need to cut back on your air conditioner or water heater usage).
How to make an old home energy efficient
It starts with a few modifications in your valuable home. First, try to reduce the amount of heat entering and staying in your house. After all, the air conditioner’s energy usage can make up a huge percentage of your monthly electrical bill. Your first focus should be on reducing your cooling and heating expenses.
This is possible through proper insulation and sealing the leaks to prevent much heat from coming in and the cool air from escaping. It’s a common request in many old homes wherein there are many gaps that make air conditioners less effective. But with proper insulation, the cool air (or warm air) will stay in the premises.
Aside from installing insulation and sealing the leaks, many homeowners also replace the windows and doors (and adding curtains and blinds). This is to create a proper seal of the entry points of warm or cool air from the outside. Homeowners and families also regularly close the blinds especially if it’s an unusually hot summer day.
These are low-cost modifications you can do right away. You can already get a significant return on investment after a few months. Also, it’s a long-term benefit because you’ll save on energy costs for years to come.
Use smart home technology
Did you know that in Australia more than a billion dollars is being wasted because air conditioners are left running even if no one’s home? Many air conditioning units run for an additional 4 hours each day, which means for the whole month it’s hundreds of dollars of wasted money.
It’s a result of bad habits that are hard to shake off. Air conditioners now are inconspicuous and silently working in the background. We have a lot of other things to think about and sometimes we would just forget turning off the unit before going out.
An easy way to do this is by installing a smart technology (or choosing an air conditioner with smart features). This will allow your air conditioner and other appliances to turn off (or get into power saving mode) if there’s no one in your home or if there’s minimal activity in the room. Instead of insanely keeping track of the thermostat or whether your air conditioners are on or off, you just let technology do its work (after all, the purpose of technology is to make our lives easier).
Although you might spend more upfront, a smart technology can help you save on energy costs month after month. This will also make you rely less on your willpower and focus more on the more important and enjoyable things in life.
Use solar power
Rising energy bills (up to 15% increase each year in Australia) can really put a burden to your wallet. But with solar panels (especially for your hot water systems), you can save up to 70% of your monthly energy bill. Whether it’s a new residence or a heritage home, solar panels can really lower your utilities.
Solar systems could still be expensive upfront (but more attractive incentives might be coming to persuade more people to choose solar). The good thing here is that solar systems can already pay for themselves in 3 to 5 years. After those years, you’ll realise pure savings which you can spend on more energy-saving systems and devices.
Update your electrical connections & system
In the previous paragraphs we’ve focused on tips and technologies that use electricity. But what about the things that allow the flow of electricity? Should your wires, outlets and switchboard be updated?
The short answer is yes. Outdated wiring and other electrical fixtures would make electrical flow less efficient and less reliable. More importantly, they introduce fire hazards especially to older properties.
Modern electrical components and fixtures can make your home more energy efficient by making the electrical flow smooth. For example, whenever you turn on appliance there will be an electrical surge to your system. This event can suddenly uptick your electrical consumption and put a sudden burden to your electrical network. Worse, the whole system might shut down because of the overloading.
In addition, the electrical surges and fluctuations can make your appliances fail. That’s why it’s advisable to properly install the appliances and set up dedicated outlets and wiring. In some cases, the system should be modified for higher amperage (e.g. upgrade of switchboards). This is to accommodate the additional electrical load especially in homes with improving lifestyles and increasing energy demands.
Aside from possible better energy efficiency, updating the electrical system is often a result of necessity. Often, there are signs that the old home need an update such as rewiring when these things happen:
- Blown fuses getting frequent
- You hear buzzing sounds from outlets
- Outlet sparks or minor shocks whenever you plug in an appliance
- Flickering lights
These things seem trivial but there might be serious problems lying underneath. These things also get worse if you let them. Take note that there will be fire hazards and the damage can be a lot greater in heritage and decades-old homes wherein the building materials are already compromised.
You might need to prepare up to or at least $5,000 (including labour) for a full house rewiring. It may or may not include a few structural changes. You might also need a new switchboard ($700 to $800). The total cost might differ (electrician fees could be $60 to $130 per hour and it also depends on the difficulty of the job).
Make your home safer & more energy efficient
Here at Tiger Electrical our qualified electricians (Level 2 electricians) can make your home safer and more energy efficient. We can troubleshoot for problems and perform immediate repairs if necessary.
We also do rewiring and upgrading of safety switches and old wires. Through the years, we’ve been able to handle tricky scenarios while still delivering cost-effective solutions to every home and commercial facility.
No matter how big or small, we handle it all here at Tiger Electrical in a quick and fierce way. We offer 24/7 emergency electrical services and handle convenient appointments as well (in case you require an electrical safety inspection and maintenance). We’ve also delivered green solutions to many residences and commercial establishments through the years.
Call us today at 0412 178 132 if you want a fast, affordable, prompt and professional electrical service. As a family-owned and operated electrical contracting business, we’re committed to providing excellent services in customers based in South West Sydney.