I have a pair of overalls that are a little too big around the shoulders, so the strap slips off multiple times per wear. I keep wearing them because I think they look great, but a more practical human would tell me to wear something else
(or at the very least, alter them).
Tim Forcey is one such practical human. But rather than focussing his attention on the impracticalities of our fashion choices (although maybe he does this in his spare time), he lets people know all the ways that their homes are impractical
– at least where their power bills are concerned.
So, what’s the household equivalent of an ill-fitting strap? I asked Tim to tell me what he looks for when he goes on an efficiency expedition in his clients’ houses.
These days, everything your house needs can be supplied electrically, and the benefits of disconnecting your gas are twofold.
For one, you’ll be ditching your supply charge. Supply charges are the fixed amount you pay each day just to be connected to the gas network and it’s separate to any usage charges. In my area, it’s around 70¢ a day
(the exact amount depends on your plan). Multiply that by 365 and you’re paying over $250 a year just for the connection.
Secondly, electric appliances are generally more efficient than gas appliances, which means you’ll use less energy overall to achieve the same thing.
So Tim’s advice is this:
10 more reasons we should electrify everything
Ask anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Grand Designs: glass is cool. Ask Tim: glass is expensive. It’s not just about what you pay for it, but what it costs to keep your home warm or cool when your glass windows and walls
are hellbent on doing the opposite.
Without going into the physics of it – because I’m not a physicist – heat moves through glass much more easily than a nicely insulated wall or roof. So the more surfaces made of glass in your home, the harder it is to
keep your house the temperature you want, which means running your heater or aircon for longer to make up for it.
But you’ve got to let a little light in, so Tim has a few words of wisdom:
Back when we used to do a lot of our heating the old-fashioned way (read: fire), houses were made to be leaky on purpose. That way, there’d be plenty of ventilation to keep the air we were breathing fresher.
Unless you’re using a gas heater, it’s safe enough to plug those holes up and stop unwanted hot/cold air from seeping in. And if you do have a gas heater, get it tested before thinking about draught-sealing – some units
can make the air in your house unsafe.
Some places to think about draught-proofing are:
Clean appliances are more efficient, so knowing how to keep yours in good nick can mean good things for your power bill – but where do you start? Below is a list of places dust and grime can build up and stop things from running
as well as they could.
It’s no big secret that Australian homes aren’t generally that well insulated, and often not built for the local climate – there are houses in Tasmania that look just like ones in Queensland.
Insulation is a bigger deal in construction nowadays (ever heard of a NatHERS rating?), but Tim reckons
there are opportunities to retrofit older places to make them more comfortable too – whether it’s under the floors or in the walls.
You might’ve heard of the energy star rating, which rates appliances based on how
much energy they use. When it’s time to replace yours, spend a little extra on a more efficient unit. Even clothes dryers – the kings of energy sapping – have more efficient heat pump alternatives now.
It’s not just the big stuff, either. Replacing your lightbulbs is just as noble, and many councils and state governments have programs in place to help you replace these for free.
Tim’s Facebook group, My Efficient Electric Home (MEEH) is brimming with people
sharing their energy efficiency success stories, offering advice and answering each other’s questions.