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Energy Saving Guidebook Building a sustainable future starts at home

Ray Ellis

Chief Executive

First National Real Estate All around the world there is significant and growing support for action to address climate change. A majority of Australians believe that we must take immediate action, but remain uncertain about how and where to start. We can each make a tremendous difference, just by making basic behavioural changes within our homes and offices. As one of Australasia’s largest real estate networks, First National helps thousands of people find their dream home every day of the week. Making small changes to the way we live in our homes, the appliances we choose, and the renovations we might be planning, can all play a role in lessening our energy consumption. That’s good, not just for the planet, but also for family budgets. As such, we believe we have a responsibility to help lead customers with simple, practical advice. This booklet, printed on recycled paper with environmentally friendly ink, is the result. Together, we can all begin improving our future prospects simply by starting at home.

Contents: This booklet is designed to provide advice on sustainability in all its’ forms from water conservation to energy efficiency. Our aim is to cut through the confusion and explain how to have the most comfortable and energy efficient house possible. Energy Star Ratings. What are they? 3 Appliance Star Ratings 9 Insulation 33 Double Glazing 39 Lighting 43 Household energy use 51 Water tanks 53 Swimming pools 59 Solar hot water 75 About us 84

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The information contained within this book has been provided in good faith to assist you with some of the questions you may have about energy saving. It is not a definitive solution to all the possible questions one may have. Due to the generality of the included questions and answers, and the variations in individual circumstances, we cannot accept responsibility for an misunderstanding that may result from the information provided within. However, please do not hesitate to contact First National Real Estate for any assistance you may require and we will do everything possible to provide the information you seek or direct you to an appropriate source for the answer. Some diagrams have been sourced from and


Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy star ratings. What are they? Energy efficiency is partly about behaviour. Turning lights off, switching appliances off, setting to stand-by, all makes a difference. The design of our homes and the selection of our appliances plays a role in our household energy and water consumption. Everyone talks about “stars� these days, but what does it all mean? What is a 5-star home? What does the starrating on a washing machine mean?



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

5 Star Homes 5-star homes are homes that meet the 5-star standard for energy efficiency and water saving. A 5-star home will use 50% less energy for heating/ cooling than a traditional 2-star home, saving homeowners an average $200 per year.* A 5-star home is built from an energy efficient building material, has water-saving taps and fittings as well as a rainwater tank or solar hot water service. The energy efficiency of the building is calculated by an energy rater using specially designed software which calculates the likely performance of the building, based on its orientation, its construction materials, the size and type of its windows, its insulation and its shading. In Victoria, any renovation work for which a Building Permit is required (i.e. Structural alterations) has to comply with the 5-star standard. Each state has different forms and it is best to contact your local council or shire for more information. The extent of compliance depends on the size of the addition. * Cost savings are based on Victorian homes, this may vary between states.



Energy Saving Guidebook

9 tips to achieve a 5-star home when building 1. Consider your home’s orientation. Position living spaces to make the most of northerly sunlight through appropriate window orientation, sizing and shading. 2. Make better use of the sun. Shade windows and verandahs from summer sun with eaves, external blinds and tailored landscaping. 3. Design your home to suit its construction. Houses with concrete slab floors and those with suspended timber floors each perform differently in summer and winter. For example, carpet can provide timber floored homes with extra floor insulation for warmth in winter, whereas tiles on a concrete slab will make it easier for the floor to store solar energy collected through good passive design.

Energy Saving Guidebook

4. Consider the internal layout of your home to enhance energy efficiency. Locate windows opposite one another to allow for cross ventilation when there are cool breezes. Minimise large stairwells so your home does not lose valuable warmth. 5. Insulate walls, ceilings and exposed floors to reduce heat losses in winter and heat gains in summer. 6. Utilise windows to improve energy efficiency, not the other way round, by making use of the large range of high performance energy efficiency glazing products on the market. 7. Consider installing a rainwater tank. 8. Think seriously about going solar with your hot water system, or at least installing the latest high efficiency gas water heating system. 9. Install the best available water-saving showerheads, taps and fittings.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Appliance star ratings The Energy Rating Scheme is a mandatory national labelling scheme for: • • • • • •

Refrigerators Freezers Clothes washers Clothes dryers Dishwashers Air conditioners

Look for the Energy Rating Label that shows the star rating and other useful information about energy consumption. Choose an appliance with a high star rating. Add the purchase cost and the lifetime running cost to get a more accurate picture of the total cost of an appliance.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Reverse cycle air conditioners can be used for heating or cooling and their efficiency is different for the two modes of operation.The Energy Rating Label for reverse cycle air conditioners shows separate star ratings and energy consumption figures for heating (in red) and for cooling (in blue).

Appliances with a higher star rating generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Rating Label must be displayed on whitegoods when offered for sale. It gives a star rating between one and six stars. The greater the number of stars, the higher the efficiency. Total energy consumption in kWh per year under test conditions is also shown (in the red box). If two suitable appliances have the same star rating, choose the one with the lower energy consumption.

A detailed website ( provides additional information on the Energy Rating Scheme. The site lists the energy rating and approximate annual energy costs for all appliances on sale in Australia. You can search for an appliance that best meets your needs. The site also provides tips on appliance selection and background information on how appliance ratings are determined. Televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes, video, CD and DVD players and recorders do not carry energy rating labels in Australia. Neither do computers, scanners or printers. Nevertheless, the collective energy demand of these appliances in a modern household is significant. Taken together, the electrical power use of these commonly used appliances may outweigh that consumed by traditional white goods.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

A large screen television used 6 hours a day, can generate around half a tonne of greenhouse gases a year - more than a family fridge. Digital technologies have led to the emergence of ‘convergence’ in which previously unrelated devices operate interactively with one another. As an example, CD players, radios, cameras and telephones used to be quite separate devices but now consumers can buy mobile phones that play music, email and take photographs. In the home, this phenomenon of convergence has lead to such things as refrigerators that contain a computer, and increasingly popular home theatres. Turn off appliances not in use, where possible. This, however, is not always as easy as it sounds. A continual power draw is becoming the default condition for many appliances. As electronic devices have become more sophisticated, they have become more and more likely to have sleep or standby modes rather than a ‘hard off ’ switch that disconnects the mains from all electrical circuits in the appliance.

Very few home entertainment products, for example, have an off switch. This means that significant power is wasted even when the device is put into passive standby mode by the remote control. Even more power is wasted when devices such as DVDs, set-top boxes and CD players are left in active standby after use. In this mode, they can use twice as much energy as they do when powered down to passive standby mode. Switch off appliances that are used infrequently at the power point.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Choosing and using a fridge or freezer Running a six star 360L fridge will produce almost half a tonne less greenhouse gas each year than a three star model. Buy appliances that are the right size for your circumstances - especially freezers as their energy demand is high. A larger model will use more energy than a smaller one with the same energy star rating. One large fridge will usually be more efficient than two smaller ones. Look for features such as easily adjustable shelving, easy access to the thermostat, simple thermostat controls, separate thermostats for fridge and freezer compartments, a door-open alarm and rollers or castors that will make cleaning and operating the fridge easier.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Chest freezers are usually more efficient than upright models as cold air does not escape every time you open the door. Upright freezers with enclosed drawers (not baskets) are a good compromise. Through-the-door features such as cold water dispensers and ice-makers use more energy and cost more. Avoid these if possible. However, through the door hatches that enable frequently used items such as milk to be accessed, without cold air escaping, are great energy savers. Upright units with one door above the other are generally more efficient than units with side by side doors. A cool cupboard will keep many fruits and vegetables well, in most climates, allowing you to choose a smaller fridge. Cool cupboards should be located in the coolest part of the house and have good airflow in at floor level, and out at the ceiling.

Using your fridge or freezer Place the fridge or freezer in a cool spot out of direct sunlight and away from cookers, heaters and dishwashers. Ensure 75mm air space around all sides of the cabinet. If located in an alcove, make sure the top is also ventilated.

Make sure the door seal is clean and in good condition. It should hold a piece of paper tightly in place when shut.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Set the fridge thermostat to between 3째C and 5째C. The freezer should be set to between -15째C and -18째C. Every degree lower requires five per cent more energy. A fridge thermometer is a good investment.

Avoid overloading the fridge or freezer. Try to leave about 20 per cent free space for air circulation. Defrost manual models regularly or when ice is more than five millimeters thick. Turn the second fridge off when not needed. Do not put it in a hot garage or veranda. Avoid placing hot food in the fridge. Dispose of old fridges properly to avoid release of ozone damaging CFCs. Your local council should be able to offer advice.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Choosing a washing machine Choose a washer that’s the right size for your needs. An oversized model will often be filled with partial loads • Select the most energy and water efficient model • Front loaders are usually more water and energy efficient. They are gentler on clothes, use less detergent and save space as they can be installed under a bench. They usually have a higher spin speed so clothes come out drier. Some have only a cold water connection • Top loaders usually use more water despite shorter



Energy Saving Guidebook

wash times. They may be less expensive to buy but are often harsher on clothes. A ‘suds saver’ feature is very desirable • Look for models with dual water connection, cold wash cycles and auto load sensing or load size selection. Heating the water for a hot load can generate up to 4kg of greenhouse gas – a cold wash will produce less than 0.5 kg • Models with a high spin speed and reverse tumble action are also desirable, especially if you use a clothes dryer • Look for an economy cycle

Energy Saving Guidebook

Using your washing machine Wash a full load rather than several smaller loads and use ‘suds saver’ if available. Don’t use too much detergent. Making detergent produces a lot of greenhouse gases and using too much pollutes our waterways. • Use the economy cycle • Most of the energy used in washing clothes is for heating the water. Use cold water where possible



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Look for an auto-sensing feature, easily accessible lint-filters and other features such as reverse tumbling and special fabric cycles. Using clothes dryers

Choosing a clothes dryer

Use a clothes line or rack to dry, instead of a dryer, whenever possible. • Avoid over loading or over drying • Do not put wet clothes in the dryer. Part dry or spin dry them first, using the maximum spin speed of the washer

Consider buying a gas fired or heat pump model clothes dryer.

• Clean the lint filter after each load

They are more expensive to buy and install but much cheaper to run. Drying a load of washing in an electric dryer generates more than 3kg of greenhouse gas.

• Run the dryer on medium instead of high

• Externally vent the dryer to remove moist air from the room



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Choosing a dishwasher Choose the right size for your needs so you will not always be washing partial loads. Two drawer models are available and can be more efficient in households where regular small loads are required.



Energy Saving Guidebook

• A well designed dishwasher will wash better at lower temperature and with less detergent than a poorly designed one • Select the most energy and water efficient model • Look for models with hot and cold connections or cold connection only. Hot connection only models use much more energy as the whole cycle will use hot water, not just the wash phase • Research performance. Basket and rack design is important

Energy Saving Guidebook

Using a dishwasher Avoid rinsing dishes under the hot water tap. Scrape plates well before packing the dishwasher. Always clean the filter between washes. • Run the dishwasher only when fully loaded • Use cold water cycles as much as possible in dishwashers. Select the cycle with the lowest temperature and the minimum time to get the job done • Avoid using drying cycles - open the door instead • Use the economy cycle



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Audio visual appliances The hours of usage of home entertainment and computer equipment is increasing. The Australian home for example has an average of 2.4 televisions watched by at least one family member for between 5-8 hours a day. The average television size has increased from 51cm in 2000 (for a traditional Cathode Ray Tube TV) to 106cm for a Plasma type. Energy consumption has increased dramatically as a result. In addition, the ubiquity of computers with associated scanners, printers, additional displays and 24 hour internet access make them a significant part of energy use. To minimise energy use from home entertainment and computer equipment, where possible, switch the appliance off at the power point to avoid energy consumed in standby mode. If that isn’t possible, use the ‘hard off ’ switch on the appliance (if it has one) or turn the appliance off with the remote control to reduce standby power use.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Insulation Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow, keeping winter warmth in and summer heat out, thereby reducing heating and cooling costs. Well insulated homes can: 1. Stay up to 10ºC cooler in summer and 5ºC warmer in winter 2. Save 45-55% of heating and cooling energy Insulation is essential to reduce heat loss in winter and to help keep your home cool in summer. Heat is lost through radiation, convection and conduction. There are two types of insulation – bulk and reflective. Bulk insulation reduces radiant, convective and conductive heat loss through millions of tiny air pockets that provide resistance to heat flow. Reflective insulation only reduces radiant heat transfer but can act as a vapour barrier as well.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

The Australian Rating System Insulation is given an R-rating, not because it’s unsuitable for children, but to indicate its’ performance. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effect. All building materials have an inherent R-value, but common construction elements like brick-veneer or weatherboard walls only have an R-value of around 0.5. A plasterboard ceiling is only rated about 0.4. Without the addition of insulation material they don’t comply with regulations, let alone keep you comfortable! Australian Government recommended levels of insulation for your local climate can be found at

Priorities Floor insulation is worth considering, but unnecessary for a slab or a carpeted timber floor. First National suggests your priority should be ceiling, walls then windows.

Types of insulation products • Bulk (batts or blankets) - Fibreglass, Rockwool, natural wool or polyester • Loose fill - Cellulose, natural wool or granulated Rockwool • Boards - extruded or expanded polystyrene • Reflective foil laminate - Multi-cell, expandable or bonded to bulk material



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

SUMMER GAINS ceiling 25-35%

Insulation Rebates The Australian Government provides rebates to improve the energy rating of Australian homes. Free ceiling insulation worth up to $1600 is available to owner-occupiers with limited or no ceiling insulation.* Landlords and tenants are also eligible for assistance under the Low Emission Assistance Plan for Renters. You may be eligible for additional state government assistance as well. For further details about federal Government rebates visit: Insulating a home can save 45–55% of heating and cooling energy. Diagrams to the right show the savings on heating and cooling energy when insulation is installed.

* Insulation grants and rebates will no doubt change over time. Please consult for updates.

windows 25-35%

walls 15-25%

air leakage 5-15%

WINTER LOSSES ceiling 25-35%

walls 15-25%

windows 10-20%

air leakage 15-25%

floor 10-20%



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Double Glazing Once you’ve insulated your ceilings and walls, you may wish to consider double-glazing. A double-glazed window is a window with 2 panes of glass about 10-15mm apart. The gap is filled with air (or sometimes Argon gas) which acts as an insulator. The bigger the gap, the greater the insulation provided. 10-20% of heat loss is through windows and doubleglazing can reduce this greatly. It can also reduce heat gain in summer, but it is more effective to shade your windows.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Double-glazed windows can be used to replace single glazed windows to improve the energy efficiency of an existing home. It is, however, considered expensive as curtains and architraves must first be removed, then there’s the installation of the new windows and the painting that is required afterwards. It is worth considering replacing old windows during a renovation, particularly in living areas that can be closed off from the rest of the house. The energy efficiency of a building is calculated by an energy rater, using specially designed software which calculates the likely performance of the building based on its orientation, its construction, the size and type of its windows, its insulation and its shading.

Timber or uPVC frames can reduce conductive as well as radiant heat loss, however aluminium frames are OK if provided with a thermal break, or if the internal frame is timber Similar results can be achieved by adding an extra panel to every window.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Lighting One third of all energy used in Australian homes is for lighting. The most energy efficient lighting is natural light. But when night falls, energy saving light globes in high use areas are the best option to reduce your bill. You can also reduce energy use by turning off lights when you leave a room or by using timers or sensors - particularly on outdoor security or garden lights.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Halogen Bulbs Halogen bulbs are another form of incandescent lighting. Not as efficient as fluorescent tubes, they offer greater efficiency than traditional incandescent lighting and are best used for “task lighting” such as kitchen workbenches, instead of general illumination.

Incandescent bulbs

They require gaps in ceiling insulation to reduce fire hazard and this reduces the overall effectiveness of your home’s efficiency.

Incandescent bulbs are the most common light source in Australia but also the least energy efficient alternative. They are cheap to buy but expensive to run, offering a comparatively short life span of approximately 1000 hours. They’re most suitable for areas where lighting is used infrequently or only for short periods, for example, the laundry or guest toilet.

While it has been fashionable for some time to use low-voltage halogen downlights for general lighting, low voltage does not necessarily equal low energy use. Rooms with a lot of low voltage halogen downlights use a lot of electricity. Ask your electrician for compact fluorescent or light emitting diode (LED) downlights.

The Australian Government is gradually phasing out all inefficient light bulbs.After more than 125 years of usage, incandescent light bulbs will be phased out by 2010, cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, benefiting the environment and your hip pocket.

Downlights are best for highlighting certain areas, so it’s best to minimise their use as they are a wasteful way to light a room. Low energy LED downlights are entering the market, providing an energy efficient alternative to halogen bulbs.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Many would be familiar with the traditional fluorescent tube as these have long been used in Australia. The most energy efficient lighting, however, is the compact fluorescent light globe (CFLs), which can last up to 10,000 hours and now comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours (warm tones are now available).

The benefits of switching to energy efficient bulbs Fluorescents and CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) Compact fluorescent lamps use about a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light. While they may be more expensive to buy, they’re much cheaper to run. They offer a long life, lasting up to eight times longer than old style globes. They are best suited to areas where lighting is required for long periods of time, such as the living room and kitchen, as well as for security lighting.

You’ll save much more energy and money in the long run when you switch to energy saving light globes. Compact Fluorescent Globes are available from most lighting and hardware retailers and last between four and ten times longer than standard incandescent globes. The cost of running a light depends on the wattage of the globe. Compact fluorescent lighting is the cheapest option over the long life of the globe.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Other things you can do to improve lighting If you’re building a new home or renovating, orientating living areas to the north with appropriately sized, located and efficiently sealed windows provides access to the most energy efficient form of lighting, natural sunlight. Other simple methods to improve lighting include: • Selecting the right globe for the job. Consider the intensity and the length of time lighting is needed • Using a timer or sensor for outdoor lighting

What you can do now In a typical home, electricity for lighting costs about $100 and generates around 20,000 balloons of greenhouse gas each year. Turn lights off Don’t leave the lights on when no one is in the room. If you are going to be out of the room for more than five minutes, turn off the light. If there’s enough natural light, don’t turn the light on at all.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Go solar

Household energy use

Solar-powered lights are a good option for outdoor garden lighting. You could also consider solar power for your whole house. If you install a photovoltaic system to convert the sun into electricity, you may be eligible for a rebate.

A cost-effective, energy-efficient home is one that saves maximum energy at minimum cost. Here are 10 ways you can save energy around the house without spending a cent!

Energy saving around the house:

2. Don’t leave appliances on standby


Heating and Cooling


1. Turn your lights off if you’re not in the room 3. Turn the thermostat down on your hot water service 4. Adjust the thermostats on your cooling (to 23-24 degrees) and heating devices (to 18-19 degrees) 5. Wash clothes and dishes in cold water 6. Close your doors, windows & curtains when heating or cooling (unless evaporative)


Water Heating

7. Close doors to rooms you don’t need to heat 8. Cross ventilate for cooling


9. Dry your clothes outside Other Appliances

10. Only wash clothes or dishes when you have a full load



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Water tanks The installation of a water tank can make an enormous difference to your household consumption. There should be three basic household water goals: • Reduce the amount of water you use (low flow fittings, dual flush cisterns, 5-star appliances etc) • Collect and (re) use rainwater (water tanks, diverters etc) • Recycle (grey water collection and treatment etc) So, you’ve decided to install a tank but what size should you get? Ideally, the biggest you can afford that will realistically fit into your garden.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Capacities and what utility they can provide • 1,000 litres will water a small garden or a large collection of pot plants

Energy Saving Guidebook

How much are they? Tanks vary with size (capacity) and type (polyethylene, concrete or steel) $500-$1,000 for 1,000 litres

• 2,000 litres will water a larger garden and wash the car

$1,000-$2,000 for 2,000 litres

• 5,000 litres is likely to be sufficient for a family home, if you want to connect to the toilet as well

A plumber will normally charge several hundred dollars for installation and pumps cost approximately $500.

• 10,000 litres + if you want be self-sufficient, depending on your consumption

$1,500-$3,000 for 5,000 litres

* Prices may vary between states.



Energy Saving Guidebook

What are the rebates? Rebates range from $150 to $1,000, depending on the size of the tank and are subject to the connection of a toilet or laundry. An additional $150 is available if you connect to the toilet. There is also a $30 rebate available on $100 worth of miscellaneous items like mulch, compost bin, rainwater diverter etc. * Check what rebates you are entitled to by contacting local government / council.

Energy Saving Guidebook

Can I drink the water? People in the country have been safely drinking rain water stored in water tanks for years, but it is more hazardous in built-up city areas with fine particles floating around in the air. Make sure you have a grate on the inlet side of the tank to keep leaves and twigs out. Install a first flush diverter to send the first few litres of rainwater down the downpipe, rather than straight into your tank. If you live in a built-up area, consider putting tank water to use in other ways before you start drinking it (garden watering, car/dog washing, pool filling, toilet flushing, clothes washing etc.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Swimming Pools You might think that in times of drought and water restrictions, a swimming pool would be an extravagance you should do without, but you don’t have to! It’s possible to have a “water neutral” pool by taking key steps to limit water wasteage.

How do pools lose water? Pools lose water in four key ways: • Evaporation • Splashing • Back-washing • Leaks



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

• Check pipes and drains each year to ensure there are no leaks. Keep pets out of the pool to reduce the load on both the filter and pump • Discourage rough play and unnecessary splashing by pool users

What is a Water Neutral Pool? A Water Neutral Pool is one that creates a new standard for swimming pools. How do you stop it? Installing shade sails over the pool and wind covers will help reduce evaporation.Installing a solid pool fence (e.g. glass) helps reduce the amount of air circulation over the surface. Ensure the pool has suitable overhanging pavers or decking to keep water lost from splashing to a minimum. • Keeping your pool’s water in the correct condition or “balanced” to avoid unnecessary expense on pool chemicals

Utilising both water saving and water harvesting devices ensures that it is “water-wise” by minimising mains water use. The Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) is keen to commend pool owners who conserve water and install a Water Neutral Pool, or retrofit an existing pool, to ensure that it meets this new standard. A Water Neutral Pool delivers a range of benefits including: • Reduced water use - delivering water savings, energy savings and cost savings while reducing the impost on mains water • Reduced chemical use - cuts pool maintenance costs



Energy Saving Guidebook

• Water collection at site - another way of saving water and money by storing water and diverting it for use in laundries and toilets, and on gardens • Enhanced property value • Demonstration of the pool owner’s responsible attitude to water conservation

What are the features of a Water Neutral Pool? A Water Neutral Pool must, at a minimum, have the following features: • Water tank, to collect rainfall to top-up the pool • Pool cover, to conserve 90% of water lost through evaporation • Backwash minimisation system, to prevent excessive backwashing (e.g. cartridge filter, oversized sand filter, centrifugal / pre-filter device, backwash recycle system, etc.)

Energy Saving Guidebook

Is there any evidence Water Neutral Pools save water? Analysis shows a Water Neutral Pool can save thousands of litres of water every year. Over a 12 month period, pool owners with an adequate sized rain tank, who conscientiously use a pool blanket (physical or chemical) and a backwash minimisation system, will not need to use mains water to top-up their pool. This has been tested using two scenarios: average rainfall in Melbourne over a 30 year period (1971–2000) and average rainfall in the past 10 years (1997-2007) that have been affected by climate change and drought. The results show for both examples there is excess water in the rainwater tank that can be used for other purposes around the home over the 12 month period.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook




Rainfall into pool




Rainfall into water tank (based on




Loss water tank diverter




The data is based on an 8 x 3.5 metre, 40,000 litre capacity pool and compares (note: calculations are based on use of pool cover 50% of the time):

Water gained




A. A non-Water Neutral Pool

Loss through evaporation




B. A Water Neutral Pool over a 30 year period (19712000) based on average rainfall and evaporation rates

Backwash loss




C. A Water Neutral Pool over a 10 year period (19972007) based on average rainfall and evaporation rates during this time of drought and climate change.

Total water loss




This data shows:

Surplus water




How much water can be saved? The table (right) shows how much water can be saved annually by a Water Neutral Pool.

50m roof)



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

• that even during a time of drought, a Water Neutral Pool provides 6,351 surplus litres of water that can be used by the pool owner in their garden, laundry or toilet • the importance simple devices such as water tanks and pool covers can play • that a mix of devices produces the best water conservation outcomes • that having a Water Neutral Pool is easy and achievable and delivers real water savings benefiting the whole community

What size tank do I need? SPASA has established standard minimum tank sizes to achieve optimum water savings: • 20,000 litre pool = 2,500 litre water tank • 40,000 litre pool = 4,000 litre water tank • 60,000 litre pool = 5,000 litre water tank



Energy Saving Guidebook

What calculations have been carried out to prove the water neutral concept? To calculate water collection capacity, Bureau of Meteorology average rainfall data was used to determine the amount of water a pool could capture as well as how much run-off a 50 square metre roof would send to a water tank.

To calculate water loss, Bureau of Meteorology evaporation rates based on a pool’s surface area, backwash loss from the filter and the diverter were used. The diverter is connected to the water tank and stops pollutants from the catchment area entering the tank, losing some water in the process. The experience of SPASA members was used to determine the amount of water used in an average swimming pool.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Where is a Water Neutral Pool available and how will owners of Water Neutral Pools be recognised? SPASA members are able to install a Water Neutral Pool, as are owner builders and registered building practitioners. However, only a SPASA member can provide a pool owner with a Water Neutral Pool compliance certificate and plaque. SPASA members/pool owners will then need to advise SPASA that their pool has the required Water Neutral Pool features by providing site photos or receipts proving purchase, SPASA will then be able to confirm the pool owners have installed a Water Neutral Pool and will issue a certificate and display plaque for property owners to promote that their pool is water efficient. By displaying the plaque a home-owner is showing that they are taking positive steps to enjoy their pool and reuse and recycle water at the same time.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Will it cost more to have a Water Neutral Pool? Making a pool water neutral represents only a small proportion of a pool’s total investment Water efficient features vary in price according to pool size. For a 40,000 litre Water Neutral pool costs average $3,800 (based on $1,500 for a 5,000 litre tank, $700 for an 8 x 4 metre pool blanket and $1,600 for a backwash minimisation system). All costs associated with being certified water neutral are set-up costs and are necessary in order for pool owners to be certified as responsible water managers. SPASA encourages home owners to consider both the environmental cost of not making their pool a Water Neutral Pool as well as the future economic savings to be had by reducing the use of increasingly expensive water and pool chemicals.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

Solar hot water The most common and affordable way to use solar power is for heating water. Using the sun’s energy to heat water can reduce your household hot water bills by more than 60% each year, that’s a saving of around $200 a year for the average family. For an additional investment of around $2000 above the price of a conventional hot water system, a solar water system in southern parts of Australia will pay for itself in approximately four to ten years at today’s gas and electricity tariffs Solar hot water systems use the sun’s energy to heat water in much the same way as water in a hose left on the lawn gets hot on a sunny day. In a direct heating system, water is heated as it circulates through flat, glazed panels (solar collectors), located on the roof of a house. The heated water is then stored in an insulated



Energy Saving Guidebook

storage tank, located either directly above the collectors or on the ground like a conventional hot water system. An auxiliary heater is also included in the system, to boost water temperature on days when solar energy may be insufficient to meet all your hot water requirements. Boosters may be run on off-peak electricity, gas (natural or LPG) or solid fuel. Collectors should be positioned on a north-facing roof (no more than 45° east or west of north) at an angle between 15° and 50° (standard roof pitch is usually sufficient). Other roof orientations may also be suitable, provided the unit is mounted on a frame to face north.

What systems are available? There are a number of types of solar boosted Hot Water Services on the market. The most common type is a close coupled mains pressure system, consisting of roof-mounted solar collectors, combined with a horizontallymounted storage tank located immediately above these collectors.

Energy Saving Guidebook

storage tank

hot water to house

booster (gas of electric) hot water from collector to tank transparent cover

mains inlet

dump valve

Figure 1

absorber plate

collector cases

In most solar systems a pump is not required. Heated water rises naturally through the solar collectors and enters the storage tank. When this happens, cooler water at the base of the storage tank is forced out and flows down to the bottom of the collectors. This cycle is continuously repeated while the sun is shining. Most commercially available solar hot water systems employ this cycle, commonly referred to as ‘thermosyphon flow’ (see figure 1).



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

It’s also possible to buy systems with a pump that enables the tank to be located on the ground, if the roof structure cannot bear the load.

All of this is great if you’re building a new home or if your Hot Water Service (HWS) has expired and needs replacing, but what if you already have a hot water service?

return hot water cold flow pipe recirculating pump

hot water outlet solar storage tank

conventional water heater

cold water inlet

There are two options: 1. A pre-heater, which is a storage tank with solar collectors connected, that heats water before it gets to the conventional HWS and reduces the energy required to heat stored water from cold. 2. Collectors can be also connected to existing conventional off-peak electric hot water heaters and gas hot water services under certain conditions. Check with a registered plumber.

Important considerations

solar heated water

cold water mains inlet hot water outlet conventional water heater

gas or electric booster



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

To get the most out of your solar hot water system, make sure:

length of the connecting pipes (in constant pressure and pumped systems)

• you carefully read the warranty details (check that it includes frost protection)

• all plumbing must be carried out by a licensed plumber

• your roof ’s structural strength is assessed to ensure that it can support the weight of the system

• all electrical work for the installation of electrical heating elements and electric pumps must be carried out by a registered electrical contractor.

• solar collectors will not be shaded by trees or nearby buildings • all pipes are well insulated • some form of frost protection is included • the storage tank and solar collectors are as close together as possible to reduce the

• if your water quality is poor, then you need to be aware that the system’s warranty may be affected.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

• when possible, do jobs requiring hot water early in the day. This allows the water remaining in the tank to be reheated by the sun and reduces the auxiliary heating period • the recommended setting for the booster thermostat is 60°C. Remember, the lower the thermostat setting, the lower the energy used to supplement solar heating

Tips for better performance

• install your system as close as possible to the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, which are the main hot water draw-off points around the home. If this is not possible, install it close to the kitchen • conserve hot water by using it efficiently

The most effective way to obtain maximum performance from your solar hot water system is to make efficient use of hot water in your home. Take note of the following points.

• fit a low flow showerhead. Showering makes up over 30% of hot water usage in the home. This can be dramatically reduced by fitting a low flow showerhead, or a flow restrictor to an existing showerhead • follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance of your solar hot water system



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

About us First National Real Estate At First National Real Estate, nothing gets in the way of you and your needs. Whether you are buying or selling, you will always be treated as our top priority. The First National Real Estate network has been set up specifically for that purpose. You will be in the unique position of having a local agent with local knowledge, combined with the support and systems that a national network can provide. So, all our agents have to concentrate on is you. We think it’s something of a first.



Energy Saving Guidebook

Energy Saving Guidebook

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Energy Saving Guidebook

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Energy Saving Guidebook  

First National Real Estate's tips on how to choose more energy efficient appliances, save energy at home, and renovate with efficiency in mi...

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