Cutting your carbon emissions, and your bills

As the weather cools down, the heaters go on and energy bills start to rise. Ku-ring-gai is one of the highest consumers of electricity across Sydney, using on average, 23.3kWh of electricity per day, 1.5 times more than the average Sydney household. This means higher costs and increased carbon emissions.

As a result Ku-ring-gai Council is supporting residents to cut energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions through its free advisory service, the Greenstyle program.

This program offers a free visit to a resident’s home to assess where improvements can be made. A tailored report is then developed identifying key ways to reduce energy costs and save money.

The Council also offers rebates on a range of initiatives aimed at saving energy and water costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These Energy Smart rebates of $500 are available for Ku-ring-gai residents who adopt water and energy saving techniques around their home and garden. These can include fitting solar panels, installing rainwater gardens that stop run-off, double glazing or external shutters for windows.

Pool pumps can be the biggest drain on a household electricity bill and there are also rebates available for homeowners with swimming pools. Energy Smart Pool Pump Rebates enable residents to reduce water and energy bills and improve the local environment, with potential annual energy cost savings of up to $417 with a payback period of just 3.2 years (conditions apply).

More energy-saving advice

  1. Mind your gaps: One of the most common problems is air leakage – where outside air enters and warm air leaves your house through cracks and openings, pushing up the cost of heating and cooling your home. Reduce the likelihood with these measures:
  • Seal gaps in doors, windows, skirting boards and cornices with a caulking gun – holding silicone/latex to bond metals, glass, wood or ceramic surfaces
  • Also seal wall and ceiling penetrations such as downlights, power outlets, air-conditioning and manholes and roof space access hatches
  • Fit draught-proofing strips to doors such as brush or foam seals
  • Duct exhaust fans to outside and install non-return baffles – vents which let air out only one way. So in a bathroom or kitchen exhaust the vent exhausts air outside but doesn’t let air in when not in use.

2. Insulation deflation: Ceiling insulation can settle down over time and this reduces its efficacy in trapping warmth in, during winter. If it has compressed to less than 50mm, topping up helps.

Gaps in insulation also reduce the efficiency of existing insulation. A 10% gap can reduce the overall R-value of insulation by 50%. For example, the area above downlights, left uncovered usually due to fire safety concerns, results in insulation gaps. Downlight covers can be retrofitted to allow better coverage of insulation around these lights.

  1. Windows pains: Uncoated single-glazed windows are considered the weakest thermal component in the building envelope, with energy wastage from windows accounting for more than 50 percent of an air conditioner’s energy consumption. Compared to single glazing, double glazing reduces heat conduction by half.

It’s expensive to retrofit double glazing but you could try cheaper options to reduce the loss of heat from within, with window films and with blinds and curtains. Open blinds and curtains to let in winter sun during the day, and close them in the afternoon/evening to help prevent the radiant heat inside from escaping through the glazing as it starts to cool outside. This reduces the burden on your heaters.

Find out more with Ku-ring-gai workshops: There are a range of free workshops throughout the year to help residents make their homes and gardens more sustainable and energy efficient. The next relevant workshop, ‘Winter Warming Your Home,’ is on Wednesday 18 July at the Council Chambers in Gordon, discussing tips to cut draughts and reduce heat loss in homes. Book at kmc.nsw.gov.au/sustainabilityevents or call 9424 0893 during business hours for more info.

For Hornsby residents

More residents in Hornsby Shire will be able to generate their own electricity through a campaign that makes going solar easier. Hornsby Shire Council has teamed up with energy experts from Our Energy Future, a non-profit initiative set up by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils. Thirteen NSW councils have already joined the team, helping residents embrace renewables, cut power bills and reduce pollution.

The program provides residents with quotes from reputable suppliers for energy saving or renewable energy products, such as solar PV (photovoltaic), LED lighting and home energy assessments.  

Hornsby Council is also offering residents a range of free workshops throughout the year to help residents make their homes more sustainable and energy efficient. The next workshop, Introduction to Solar, is on Sunday 19 August at the Council Chambers. Visit hornsby.nsw.gov.au/solar to register or get more information. Residents can also find out if solar is right for them by visiting ourenergyfuture.org.au or by calling 1300 339 915.

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