Home' Homes : Homes 2011 Contents 102 Scoop Publishing | WA’s Best Homes & Design 2011/12
“A gas-boosted solar water heater can pay for itself
within five years compared with electric or bottled
LPG-boosted ones, and eight compared with gas”
Water heating is the largest single energy user in
WA households, gobbling up about 25 per cent. The
integrated tank/solar water heater was developed in
the 1950s in Australia and Israel. Today, almost every
building in Israel has one, yet only 10 per cent of
Australian houses do.
Rebates are available from state and federal
governments. For new and replacement gas-boosted
solar hot water systems, the state rebate is $500 for
natural gas-boosted systems (in gas reticulated areas)
and $700 for bottled LPG-boosted systems (in non-
reticulated areas). The federal rebate is $1000 to replace
electric hot water systems.
Costs and hot-water usage vary greatly, so it’s hard
to calculate ‘typical’ costs and payback times. But it’s
suggested that a gas-boosted solar water heater can
pay for itself within five years compared with an electric
or bottled LPG-boosted system, and within eight years
compared with a natural gas hot water system. Larger
households are likely to recover their costs sooner.
The internal fitout is the stage that inevitably
introduces elements that aren’t very ‘green’,
particularly finishing products and adhesives.
Choose those with minimal embodied energy
(without destruction to natural habitats) but
which also have a long life and low-VOC
(volatile organic compounds) levels. For
example, low VOC paints, which are
becoming readily available, will mean
fewer chemicals are emitted into the home.
It comes down to doing some research,
although contacting every supplier to find out
about the green credentials of their products
and materials can be very time consuming.
An excellent resource is www.ecospecifier.
com.au, an online knowledge base of more
than 6000 products, materials, technologies
and resources that meet certain eco credentials.
Linking independent information with a
powerful search interface, ecospecifier
delivers innovative sustainable product
solutions as well as time and cost reductions.
eTool (see page 101) is another online option
for comparing the environmental impacts
of products and materials.
Renovate and retrofit rather than demolish
and rebuild. The amount of energy required to
demolish, remove the waste from site and build
a new house, combined with all the embodied
energy associated with the construction and
material manufacturing, far outweighs the
energy consumed in a renovation.
Architects agree renovating will generally give
you “more bang for your buck”. But if the final
design is completely different to the original,
you could be better off starting again – making
sure you recycle as many materials as possible.
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