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Energy Local LegendsGo all-electric

Low and high-tech pathways to all-electric

By June 27, 2024No Comments
Front of a red brick house with a native front garden.

In 2021, Mel and Scott bought a promising 1980s two-storey home in North Coburg. Like many Australian homes, it was full of air leaks and lacking insulation making it hot throughout summer and freezing in winter. The couple set to work on a cosmetic and comfort upgrade while converting their home to all-electric.

Gap sealing and insulation were first-order items. “I always say start with sealing around the doors and windows. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to make a big difference”, says ScottInside of house being renovated with people on ladders putting insulation in roof

Alongside extensive gap sealing, Scott added insulation in the roof, the cathedral ceiling plus both thermal and sound proofing insulation within internal walls: “I wanted to reduce sound and heat flow between the rooms of the house”. He hired a FLIR thermal camera available at Merri-bek libraries to help guide the process.

Behind the thinking for Scott’s insulation throughout internal walls was the couple’s new heating system. Scott had kept the in-floor heating outlets but replaced the gas central heating with an energy efficient heat pump heater. This new system runs through the retained ducts on the ground floor of the house and is zoned so the couple can selectively heat rooms, so it makes sense to ensure every room is sealed and insulated.

Given that the couple were committed to de-gassing their home, when the gas hot water died, they’d already decided what new electric hot water system they’d purchase. A new highly energy efficient heat pump hot water system was quickly ordered and installed.

Low tech passive solar

Outside of brick house with shutters on windowsThe couple also installed a simple outside awning over a north-facing bay window to stop summer sun from entering the home but still allowing winter heat in. “This simple feature alone has had a big impact,” says Scott.

Hot summer sun coming in through large west-facing living and dining room windows was also a problem but is now controlled via external motorised blinds. Scott and Mel opted for fully automated blinds, a pricier option, but recommended by Scott to make the most of the blinds. This is sound advice given the importance of stopping summer heat before it enters the home.

In this first stage of the renovation the couple also replaced their single-glazed aluminium windows on the ground floor with double-glazed windows.

“In winter we use the heater far less frequently now,” explains Scott. “Before we changed the windows there would have been about five-degrees difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures by morning, but now it’s more like ten”

Knowledge is power

Electronic gadget with a greenlight on a table.Scott also installed Home Assistant home automation software in the home to make running the home and saving energy and water easier.

Not only does the software help the couple understand their resource usage patterns, it does everything from turning the heating on and off remotely and adjusting those external blinds, to tracking water usage throughout the home and garden.

Scott also invented a device for his living room to  show the current price of electricity in real time to help the couple reduce bill costs. When the cost of electricity from the grid is high, the device shines red, and the couple can turn off appliances; and when it’s green, that’s the time to do those less time sensitive jobs, like running the washing machine or dishwasher.

Honeycomb blinds then solar and  batteries will be next for the couple, but in the meantime, Scott and Mel are enjoying the creative comforts and reduced bills of their fully-electric upgraded home.

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