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No (or low) cost home building tips that will help keep your new home comfortable all year round.

Perth is in the grips of a building boom! The last thing you want after building your dream home is to move in and your house is too hot or too cold and you get an enormous power bill. Here are some simple no (or low) cost tips that can be applied to any new home to reduce your energy use.

NO ADDITIONAL COST

  1. Choose a light coloured roof, such as tan, light grey or cream. Inside, it will be up to 5°C cooler inside on a 40°C day.
  2. Choose a house plan with your living room windows facing north. This layout receives warmth from the sun in winter and mild sun in summer. Most building plans can be flipped or windows moved, just ask your builder about solar passive orientation.
  3. Keep wide eaves – when you expand rooms eaves are reduced, but the eaves are vital to keeping your house cool. Your eaves provide shade and shelter your windows from direct sunlight, keeping the temperature inside your house comfortable.
  4. Choose your inclusions. For no additional cost you may be able to:
  •  Choose thick rubber-backed curtains or honeycomb blinds. The right blinds will stop heat entering the house in summer and warmth leaving the house in winter.
  • Choose a ceiling fan as your light fixture. Ceiling fans help air-conditioners work efficiently!
  • Ask your builder to include LED lights. LED lights use less energy and many builders offer these for no additional cost.

COST NEUTRAL

  1. Builders are legally required to provide minimum R4.0 roof insulation in all new homes in Perth. Upgrading to R5.0 or R6.0 can easily be arranged by your builder for a few hundred dollars, which will reduce reliance on air-conditioning and heating.
  2. Invest in a renewable energy system for your home. A typical solar system (6.6kW) will cost approximately $5,500 and save around $1,000 a year.
  3. Hot water heating makes up a large proportion of your energy bill. Heat-pump or solar hot water systems are the most efficient options (especially if you have solar panels to power them).

CHEAPER

  1. A smaller house will use less power, cost less to build and take less time to clean! You could make some rooms smaller (like your laundry), use space more efficiently or avoid building a “spare room”.

By law, all new houses are required to have a 6 star NatHERS energy efficiency rating. A 6 star rating is the minimum standard under the law. On average it only adds 1-5% of a house budget for each additional star, which will reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable for you and your family.

There are many more things you can do to make your house comfortable, energy efficient and planet friendly. Find an independent NatHERS assessor early in the building process (even before you choose your plans!) to give you specific advice to improve the performance of your home and increase its star rating.

For more information on green building visit:
www.switchyourthinking.com/green-buildings/
www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/affordability