How tech can improve your home's energy efficiency
Some of the world’s most innovative minds are now investing time and research dollars into finding new and better ways to heat homes. This includes an entire team at the CSIRO, Australia’s scientific and industrial research organisation, that works specifically to find ways to heat Australian homes more efficiently.
Smart tech of the future
New to the Australian commercial market and set to be available to the residential market in the next 12 months is a real-time energy monitoring device that can pinpoint exactly where energy in the home is used – and wasted. “It’s a very cool piece of tech that has come out of Western Australia,” says a CSIRO spokesperson. “It maps energy use and analyses how much individual appliances are consuming and whether those appliances are as efficient as they could be, so you’ll be able to see whether a particular appliance is a key factor in your large energy bill.” It’s similar to tech currently available only in the US that uses sensor technology to track energy use of individual appliances in the home.
The CSIRO has also developed a three-in-one solar air-conditioning system, which uses solar power to heat, cool and provide hot water. Heat from the sun is initially collected and stored as hot water that can be used straight away. Some of that hot water is also sent to the solar air-conditioning unit, which can then be used to heat or cool the home. It’s only available commercially to date, with a view to make it available for homes in the near future.
New to the Australian market is the Tesla Powerwall, a solar energy storage battery device developed in the US that stores a home’s unused energy from solar panels for use when the sun isn’t shining. That could mean extra savings on your power bill in winter as the energy generated from solar panels can be stored and then used at night to heat the home. The more solar energy used over the year, the more viable the Powerwall will be, saving money over the long term.
QBE Technical Manager, Householders, Tony Waizer, says solar energy equipment is covered under our policy.
“We cover solar panels and other solar energy equipment including solar energy batteries that are permanently attached to your building under our Home & Contents insurance,” he says. An automated heating management system is another way to gain control of heating in your home.
While the products in Australia currently aren’t as developed as what’s available in the US, there are some home automation products that allow the temperature in a home to be controlled via a smartphone. These products allow the temperature to be set in each room, so you won’t use energy to heat rooms when they’re not being used.
Reach for the stars
An energy efficient home isn’t limited to those with access to the latest technologies. The energy efficiency star-rating system can help consumers select a heater that’s more energy efficient and cheaper to run. Upgrading an appliance can also help a household become more efficient. “The new appliance is going to be more energy efficient than your older appliance because there’s a baseline that is raised year on year,” explains a CSIRO spokesperson. Paying a bit more for an appliance with a higher star rating may also make sense, the spokesperson says. “It’ll pay itself off in a year or two, and you’ll have continued savings from then on.”
Given the rate of change in heating technologies available here and overseas, as we approach the coming winter, it’s worthwhile considering more efficient ways to heat your home.