Tips on renovating an existing home to make it more sustainable.

Integrate renewable energy systems during your renovation, it will provide the only items which will save you money and in the case of PV, will generate income if sufficient capacity

Roof modifications provide a perfect opportunity to design a nice simple roof to maximise the size of your PV system, which will provide by far the lowest cost electricity.

Space heating at the lowest cost will be provided by reverse-cycle air conditioners (RCAC) on heating mode.- much cheaper and more sustainable than gas. RCAC utilise heat pump technology

Hot water is typically best provided with hot water heat pumps, particularly those utilising natural refrigerant gas such as R290, or R744. Modern heat pumps are far superior than those produced before 2016. For large homes, the cheapest hot water will come from a heat pump.

Reserving roof space for maximising solar electricity generation will provide most benefit, which is why heat pumps are preferred in the Sydney region, as they don’t require direct sun. Heat pumps harvest heat from the air, even when outside air seems cold.

  • Choose timber products from Australian plantations, and utilse recycled timber where feasible. Avoid imported rainforest timber from SE Asian and Pacific Island Rainforests. Use only Australian hardwoods and plantation pines for typically best practice sustainable forestry practices.

  • When purchasing appliances choose energy-efficient or triple AAA rated ones.

  • Install a rainwater tank.

  • Only use LED lighting, as LED will avoid wasting electricity or utilise Mercury as in either halogen or fluorescent lighting, and cost less in the long run

  • Install lever or sensor activated taps.

  • Install energy efficient shower heads with a flow rate of up to 7 litres / minute. A more expensive shower head will save the energy costs within 1 year compared to a low quality showerhead.

  • Consider oiling for flooring or timber joinery or lime-washing rather than painting walls to reduce toxicity levels.

  • Choose sisal, coir or jute flooring materials instead of carpets. Use plant, water or mineral based paints instead of oil-based paints and varnishes.

  • Use builders and other contractors who are recommended as being environmentally sound. They can also guide you in purchasing products, furnishings and appliances.

  • Often plumbers or electricians give incorrect advice on your best options for hot water and lighting, especially for new technology, so seek independent advice from forums such as My Efficient Electric Home, or the Alternative Technology Association, or the links below.

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