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Preparing your home for summer

HerCanberra Team

Barry Du Bois, from award-winning TV show The Living Room, was in Canberra at the Actsmart Business Sustainability Expo at the tail end of winter.

His message was clear: “We need to do better.” Barry’s message wasn’t just for those at the annual Actsmart event looking for business ideas that don’t cost the earth. It was for all of us.

“Sustainability isn’t one act. It’s a thousand little things we can all do to leave the world a better place,” said the TV celebrity, who has been designing and building homes for more than 30 years. “It’s not good enough to sit back and expect the government to do it all. We all need to do things like reduce our power usage, use our cars less and plant trees. The by-product is protecting the planet for future generations. It’s that simple.”

Barry is at times confused by the level of complacency held by many when it comes to the environment. “Sustainability is a positive dividend and the returns can be high,” he said. “So why not do it?”

Fast forward a couple of months and winter has gone. It’s time to get your home ready for the warmer weather.

Here are 25 tips from Actsmart you can put in place without sacrificing comfort. Many are free and easy to implement. Most will save you money.

Easy and free cost-saving tips

  1. Close windows and doors when hot and always when your air conditioner is on.
  2. Open east and west windows in the evening and take advantage of Canberra’s cooler afternoon breeze.
  3. Close curtains or blinds before the sun strikes windows. Two square metres of glass facing the sun can let in more radiant heat than running a standard bar radiator.
  4. Set your reverse cycle air condition unit between 25°C to 27ºC. You use about 10% more energy for every 1 degree colder you set the unit at.
  5. Minimise the time you cool. Turn off your air conditioner when not needed.
  6. Clean your air conditioning unit for maximum efficiency.
  7. Put a timer or programmable thermostat on your air conditioner.
  8. Check out energyrating.gov.au if shopping for a new air conditioning unit. The site compares performance and the amount of energy they use.
  9. Consider using desk, pedestal or ceiling fans, which are cheaper to run than air conditioners (fans cost 1 to 5 cents per hour to run).
  10. Place lamps, TVs and other heat-producing devices away from your air conditioner thermostat. The heat they release can cause your thermostat to read a higher temperature and keep your air conditioner running longer.
  11. Avoid the hot stuff—reduce the time you use appliances like ovens, halogen lights and clothes dryers. Cook outdoors and dry your clothes on the line.
  12. Seal doors and windows with draught strips to prevent heat from entering.
  13. Seal cracks and gaps to prevent heat from entering.
  14. Use draught seals on all external doors to keep the heat out.
  15. Use exterior shade cloth, awning and blinds on eastern and western windows.
  16. Plant deciduous trees, vines and plants to provide shade and cool your home the same way as an evaporative air-conditioner.
  17. Cool down driveways and patios with pot plants to help reduce sun reflecting onto your house.
  18. Add mulch to your garden and use timers and drippers to save water.
  19. If planting new plants, check out the free and easy-to-use Canberra Plant Selector webtool to select those that need the least water.
  20. Clean your solar panels to make the most of free power from the sun.
  21. Update or top up insulation to keep cool air in. Visit yourhome.gov.au for information on insulation types.
  22. Contact Actsmart Sustainable Home Advice services for independent advice and information on saving money by minimising your energy use.
  23. Get an Actsmart Energy Action Kit from your nearest public library, with tools to assess your energy and water usage.
  24. Book in for a free Actsmart Sustainable Home Advice Workshop for tips on how to save money and energy. Available across Canberra, topics covered such as energy efficient heating and cooling, understanding solar and beyond 6-star building design advice.
  25. Think solar. When combined with battery storage, this allows you to use your solar energy when you need to, even when the sun isn’t shining. Check out this fact sheet.

More information: www.actsmart.act.gov.au helps you make the change to a more sustainable future.

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