We’ve just hit the winter solstice in Australia, and although that means the planet is starting it’s journey to wake up and warm up for the coming warmer seasons, it’s still very cold! With the cold comes an increase in the way we use energy around the home, and it’s a great time to put a few things into practice to help conserve your household costs as well as reduce your footprint and the subsequent impact our energy consumption has on our environment.
Most homes use gas heating and electric heating, while some use firewood to heat their homes. With all three, the most important thing to first consider is how insulated your home is. Having improperly insulated walls and ceilings means that any heating will always fall short as all the heat escapes before it can raise the temperature in your house. We recently put some new insulation in our roof here at Eco Food Wrap Homestead and it has made an amazing difference!
Even simpler actions, like caulking gaps in windows and doors and using door snakes to plug any drafts help more than most would realise. If you have to use heating and don’t have the means to do so without using electricity, it helps to close doors to other rooms and focus on heating the rooms you are using. It also helps to turn off any heating once the room is warm, as this conserves energy too. If you have ceiling fans, putting these on the lowest setting will help as hot air rises and this will help push it back down. Of course the best way to save energy when it’s cold is to invest in warm clothes, blankets and throws! Some nights it’s not even necessary to use any heating if you have a great beanie and a warm blanket!
If you are using wood fires for heating in the winter months, ensure it is from a sustainable source. Sustainable firewood is collected from fallen trees, recycled untreated timber, renewable resources. Trees can also be cut at a certain height from the ground, so the tree can regrow. Be mindful to use properly seasoned timber as green timber not only creates a lot more pollution but can also be a fire hazard.
Organic Gardener also suggest trying to source an evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii), as even untreated, this wood grows quickly, burns clean (meaning less smoke emission) and is highly sustainable as you can use fallen bark and branches easily if you’re lucky enough to have one growing nearby.
You can find out more about sustainable firewood with this PDF from The Firewood Association of Australia.
WATCH YOUR FOOTPRINT
Managing your energy consumption with some longer term planning will have the greatest impact on both your own energy costs and the environment as well. Depending solely on appliance star ratings won’t help- it’s better to work out the consumption of your appliances so you can know which ones need limited usage. It’s also good for planning your replacement purchases, as you will be able to identify appliances that have a smaller energy footprint.
For most appliances, this information is displayed on a metal plate on the back or bottom, usually in watts, occasionally the manufacturer may only supply a figure for amps in which case you can use the following formula:
Amps x 240v = watts (kilowatt hrs.)
Managing your gas and electricity bills and consumption is the best way to make a meaningful dent in both your bills and your impact on the environment.
Using the figure from the formula above, you can also check against your electricity bill. Your electricity provider will charge you for every kWh of electricity you use - the more you use, the more you pay. Depending on your provider, it might be shown as cents/per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) on your bill.
To do this, take a look at the kilowatt hours you’re being billed for then divide by the number of days that fall in that period to get an average daily usage. This will give you a good indication of your usage. As we live off-grid, we are very aware of our appliance usage, we average about 8-10 kwh a day although most houses run an average of 20-40 kwh a day.
Your electricity plan will determine the charges you accrue. It also pays to learn more about your plan as many companies measure peak and off-peak amounts.
You may find certain appliances are big culprits for your energy consumption, but remember it’s not necessarily about going and changing your appliances all at once. You can start to plan certain times to use things that might work out to cost less (peak and off-peak hours), such as using dishwashers and pool pumps- anything that heats or cools is generally a big consumption culprit.
If you have the space and capability you can even change the layout of your home to better aid cooling and heating in different seasons. When it does come time to replace your appliances, you’ll also be better equipped to make a more informed decision towards an appliance that will help reduce your footprint, saving dollars and the earth.
Have you got some handy tips around reducing your energy footprint and saving a bit for your budget and the planet? Be sure to speak up on our social media- we always love hearing from you! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram.
June also means the end of another financial year and we have a bit of a surprise for all our Eco Wrappers! For all orders from now until July 1st 2018, simply enter the coupon code EcoEOFY18 to receive a huge 30% off all orders over $60!
And as an added bonus, we have a gift for all orders in the next week. To celebrate the new ‘solar year’, marked with the recent Winter Solstice, all domestic orders will receive a FREE Eco Food Wrap Seed Hex so you can help renew and replenish your own living space. These are sustainable hexagon-shaped seedling cards that can easily be planted both in container gardens and in the yard. Don’t forget to share your green gifts with us by using the hashtag #ecofoodwrap online!
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