Half the heat in your home is lost through the walls and roof, so it's well worth investigating yours and finding out whether or not these are insulated. The thermal images below show the difference between an insulated and un-insulated home.
Funding For Insulation And Heating
If your home was built before 2000, you are eligible for funding to install insulation and or heating. Energywise will provide $1,300 or 33% towards the costs of installing insulation. If your home already has adequate insulation as was built before 2000, Energywise will provide up to $500 towards installing a clean and efficient heating system (e.g. heat pump or wood burner) to your main living area. For more information, visit www.energywise.govt.nz
In this section you will find out about the different types of insulation available.
- Attic Insulation
Due to the fact that heat rises, a lot of it will be lost through the roof if not insulate, so if this is the case in your property, the roof and attic space is the first place to start. Using Insulation Blankets or "quilts" are the easiest way to prevent heat escaping through the attic. The best thing about this type of insulation is it will be the most affective and you can do this yourself. However it does need to be done to a high standard to be affective and to reduce wastage, so if you are not a confident DIY-er, we would suggest getting help or hiring a professional to complete the work.
Blown insulation, similar to that used inside cavity walls is another option for attic spaces that are not easily accessible. However this must be carried out by a professional installer. Although attic insulation keeps the house warmer in winter it also keeps the attic and its timbers much cooler. If water vapour is allowed to rise up into the attic and not allowed to escape, condensation will occur on the structural timber and this may lead to rot. To avoid this happening place polythene sheeting on the attic floor before laying down the insulating material and then ensure that there is some ventilation through air bricks or tile vents.
- Floor Insulation
Around 1,000,000 homes in New Zealand have little or no under floor insulation. Timber floors can be insulated by installing material supported by netting between the joists just underneath the floorboards. Bulk insulation is more effective than reflective foil and can be made from polyester, wool, fiberglass and a range of other materials.
As an extra insulation you can also use regular silicone based sealant to block gaps between the floorboards to prevent draughts. But be careful not to block off ventilation bricks in the walls as floorboards can rot if not adequately ventilated. We recommend using bulk insulation with a minimal thermal resistance of R1.
- Cavity Wall Insulation
Un-insulated homes lose a third of its heat through the walls. Insulating the walls is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of energy used to heat your home and can save you around $300 on your annual electricity costs and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, so not only will you be saving money, you'll be helping the environment also!
If your homes external walls are built with two layers, cavity wall insulation will keep heat exactly where you need it - Inside!
Insulating your walls is not a job that can be done yourself. You must use a registered company which can be found in your local phone directory. This type of insulation is very effective and will pay for itself over and over with the subsequent savings that will be made.
- Solid Wall Insulation
Not all homes are built with cavity walls, but solid single walls can also be insulated from the outside or inside without considerable reduction of your floor space. Around 45% of your homes heat will be lost through un-insulated solid walls as they have no gap between the inside and the outside wall. These types of walls lose more than double the amount of heat than cavity walls.
By insulating your solid walls you can reduce your energy consumption by around 40%. As with cavity wall insulation, a professional should be consulted to check which kind of insulation best suits your home, and to carry out the installation.
- Insulation of Hot Water Cylinder And Pipes
Hot water can make up to 30% of your power bill and by insulating your hot water cylinder can reduce your energy consumption by around 75%. Insulation jackets can cost as little as $70 and will pay for themselves in savings in less than 6 months. Water will lose a small amount of heat while traveling through cold pipes. You can insulate your pipes for a small cost; however the savings are also minimal so the emphasis would be on the insulation of the hot water cylinder itself. Wrapping your hot water cylinder will save you around $80 per year!
An average family produces about 20 litres of moisture in the air around the home daily, and this moisture has to go somewhere.
Washing, cooking and bathing are the main causes of damp, but did you know that each person produces 1 litre of vapour just by breathing and perspiring? The trouble is, that we are doing so much to keep the heat in, by way of insulation, that it also keeps the moisture in.
There are a few things we can do for free to tackle dampness around the home.
- Open kitchen windows when boiling water or cooking on the stove top to allow cooking vapour to escape.
- Close bathroom and kitchen doors while the rooms are steamy.
- Open the windows in your home for half an hour each day to allow a change of air.
- Consider anti damp paint instead of gloss next time you decorate, and perhaps choose cork or carpet tiles instead of ceramic.
- Leave space in wardrobes to allow air to circulate.
The most effective damp tackling methods do cost money however. Kitchens and bathrooms should be fitted with extractor fans and tumble dries should be vented to the outside. Fit a lid to your shower cubicle to reduce the amount of steam that escapes into the bathroom. Installing good insulation, ventilation and heating is the key to tackling damp problems. Installing a HRV/DVS system will ventilate your house - tackling and preventing dampness.
Draughts occur from uncontrolled or accidental gaps found around the home. They allow heat to escape and cold air to enter.
The most common places that draughts will occur are:
- Electrical fittings on walls or ceilings
- Floorboards, Pipe work leading outside
- Ceiling to wall joints
You should maintain these areas to make sure draughts cannot enter, but be particularly careful in rooms that require ventilation such as bathrooms or kitchens. Over draught proofing these rooms could lead to condensation and subsequent dampness. Draught proofing your home could save up to $60 per year on energy costs.
For the gap at the bottom use a brush or hinged draught excluder. For the edges fit brush, foam or wiper strips like those for the windows. Install a purpose made keyhole cover.
For windows that open, buy draught proofing strips to stick around the window frame. For windows that are fixed, a silicone sealant will work well. For sliding sash windows, fit brush strips or consult a professional.
Unused chimneys are a big source of unnecessary draughts. Fit a cap over the chimney pot, better to be done by a professional roofing company, or use a chimney balloon to plug the passage. Remember to remove these if you decide to light a fire!
- Floorboards and skirting
These often contract and expand with heat changes so should be filled with a flexible filler that can tolerate movement. Silicon based fillers work best.
- Pipe work
Use silicone based fillers as above to fill small gaps around pipe work joins. Larger gaps should be filled with polyurethane foam that will expand to fill the gap.
- Unused extractor fans
These generally need to be sealed from the inside and the outside also, so you should contact a good builder for this kind of work.
Small cracks in walls can be covered using cements or hard setting fillers. But if it's a large crack this could indicate a bigger problem and you should consult a builder or surveyor to investigate what has caused the crack.
The following tips will teach you how introduce an energy efficient culture to your home and help you keep your power bills to a minimum:
- Washing machines
By lowering the temperature of your washing machine to 30°C or less will use considerably less energy than temperatures of 40°C or above. Modern detergents wash just as effectively with cold water. Also ensure you are washing full loads, as one full load will use less power than two half loads. Cold water washing will save you between $50 to $80 per year!
- Tumble dryers
Tumble dryers use considerable amounts of power. Dry your clothes as much as you can outside then use the dryer to quickly air them out and remove the last of the damp rather than drying them straight from the washing machine. Refraining from using the dryer will save you around $200 per year!
It has been proven that dishwashers use only half the energy and one-sixth of the water than washing dishes by hand would. So if you have a dishwasher, use it without feeling guilty! As with washing machines, a full load will use less energy than two half full loads.
- Refrigerators and freezers
Refrigerators and freezers are the most hardworking appliances in your kitchen. They run 24 hours a day 7 days a week so it's important that it is running efficiently. Check that the door seals are not perishing and replace if necessary. If your fridge freezer is old, it will pay to replace it with a new energy efficient model. Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. Freezers should be between -15°C and -18°C, while fridge compartments should be around 2°C to 4°C.
Kettles are also in frequent use in most households. In order to use your kettle in the most efficient way, only boil the amount of water that you require. Most kettles have a minimum fill level, so if you are only making 1-2 cups it will be more efficient for you to invest in a smaller kettle.
Reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower to just 5 minutes and you will notice a difference in your bills. Putting 2 small children in the shower together will not only save you time but also money!
Switch off lights when you leave a room. Leaving lights on unnecessarily is costing your household around $50 per year per light bulb!
- Stand-by energy costs
Switch appliances off at the wall when you are not using them. Household stand-by energy costs the country over $100 million a year - which is enough to power over 55,000 homes!
If you're going away for more than a week, turn off your electric hot water cylinder. Hot water makes up to 30% of your bill each month so there is no need to heat water that is not being used!
- Don't run your heat pump 24/7. Even though a heat pump will use around 30% of the power of a 2400w conventional heater it still uses electricity! There is no sense in heating rooms which are not being used - this is only wasting electricity. You would not leave an electric bar heater running 24/7 so common sense should also prevail with the practical use of a Heat Pump in the home.
If a 3.5kW electric bar heater was left on for 24 hours over a whole month you could expect a power bill with a heating component in excess of $567 including GST! If a 3.5kW Heat Pump was run sensibly a couple of hours in the morning before going to work and then around 4 hours in the evening at an average outdoor temperature of 7°C for a whole month, the consumer could expect a heating bill of around $40.50 inc GST per month. A 3.5 kW electric bar heater run for the same time would cost $141.75 inc GST per month in electricity!
- Don't set the temperature of your heat pump higher than you need it - aim for around 18 - 22 degrees. Your heat pump will not heat a room faster if your crank up the temperature - it will just use a lot more energy. Aim for a minimum of 18°C while you are using a space (or 20°C if you have children, elderly or people who are unwell in the home) and 16°C in bedrooms overnight. Take advantage of the timer settings on your remote. On the other hand if you've noticed you're increasing the temperature more and more take time to clean your filters.
Once you have the insulation installed, further investments can be made to ensure your home is as efficient as possible.
- Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
A traditional incandescent light bulb only produces 5% light. The other 95% produced is heat. In a typical household, lighting makes up around 12% of the electricity bill. If you replace one 100 Watt incandescent light bulb with a 20 watt fluorescent bulb can save you at least $100 a year! If your home uses four main lights, that can add up to $400 annual savings!
All properties will lose a considerable amount of heat through the windows. Installing double glazed windows will save you money on your power bill by keeping the heat inside as well as reducing draughts. As an extra benefit it also keeps the noise out making your home not only warmer, but quieter also! Double glazing uses two sheets of glass with a gap in between which acts as an insulation barrier. The costs and savings of installing double glazing vary between properties, depending on the amount and size of windows and the installer. Because replacement windows will be more airtight than your original windows, extra ventilation may be required to avoid condensation forming. If you home does not have sufficient ventilation, some windows should be fitted with trickle vents in the frame to provide controlled ventilation. If replacement windows are not an affordable option for you at the moment, invest in some heavily lined curtains to prevent the heat from meeting the windows and escaping.
- Energy Efficient Shower Heads
Around 80% of your household hot water is used by showers. But many showers will use more water than necessary. If your shower fills a ten litre bucket in less than one minute, it is using to much water and therefore consuming more energy. You will benefit from installing an energy efficient shower head with a flow rate of 9 litres per minute or less. By investing in energy efficient shower head you can reduce your hot water consumption by 25%.
There are two types of low flow shower heads available, both of which will reduce your water and power consumption: Aerated shower heads function by injecting a small amount of air into the water stream, reducing the overall flow. These shower heads result a softer mistier shower. Laminar flow shower heads release individual water streams which allow them to be water efficient while maintaining a powerful shower flow. Installing an energy efficient shower head will save you up at least $150 per year!
- Dripping taps
Dripping taps waste water and power if it's a hot tap. Fix any taps in your home that are leaking or dripping.
Close all the curtains in your home before the sun goes down. This will trap in any heat produced from the daytime sunlight for the evening. The most energy efficient curtains are thick with heavy lining that should easily block out light.