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Chapter 3

Home Energy Audit

Introduction

Your home is one of the easiest and most obvious places to start when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint and electricity consumption. Doing a home energy audit means looking at your home, and seeing what improvements can be made which will lead to greater energy efficiency.

This can be as simple as walking through the home and making a list of simple changes you can make straight away. You could also hire a professional energy auditor for an in-depth perspective.

The next three sections of this guide take a look at energy efficiency, starting with the the biggest electricity consumers - where there are the biggest opportunities to save energy and money. Use it as an initial guide to pinpoint sources of inefficiencies which can be most easily addressed.

A graph depicts space conditioning to be the largest user of energy, with water heating a quarter of the pie graph. Appliances makes up another quarter and cooking and lighting combined makes a fifth.
Energy breakdown in the home

The average household has three major areas of energy use: Space conditioning (heating & cooling), water heating and ‘other’ appliances (such as laundry & refrigeration). Generally, space conditioning consumes the most energy, followed by water heating and then others. The graph below provides a rough guide on where your efforts will count the most. Focussing on these key areas of consumption will allow you make significant reductions in energy with less effort.

As seen above, energy use in the average home is dominated by space conditioning (i.e. heating and cooling the home), followed by water heating and general appliances in roughly equal proportions.

That being said, any efficiency improvements that you attain will still contribute to reducing your electricity consumption, bill and environmental impact.

Understanding Efficiency Labelling

Energy efficiency labelling is designed to give, you, as the consumer, a simple and clear label on how much energy a device is likely to consume compared to another, and generally how energy efficient it is. With this you can make informed decisions on your next purchase.

Generally, white goods, light bulbs and some other appliances display an energy efficiency standard. Common standards used include the International Energy Star, or the European Union Energy Label, which tells you its relative efficiency compared to similar appliances.

The most useful energy efficiency labels are those that give kW/h values or ‘tiers’. The annual kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption figure allows you to see how much electricity this appliance should use over a year.. You can use this as a rough guide to see how much a electricity a type of appliance compares to another - for example, how much electricity a fridge uses compared to a television.

It’s useful to note that tiers/stars do not represent specific energy consumption levels, so you cannot compare stars between different types of appliances. Each type of appliance has its own regulations and algorithm standards in order to calculate efficiency. This means the difference in energy efficiency between each star varies depending on the appliance type.

With these things in mind, you should now be ready to start having a look at how you can improve your home - covered in the following sections of this guide.

A coloured array of energy efficiency stickers including the European standard sticker and Australian standard stickers.

In the next chapter, we’ll address the biggest energy consumer of your home: space heating and cooling.

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