Tag Archives: energy

Long Term Real Estate Values Linked To Sustainable Energy Planning

Long Term Real Estate Values Linked To Sustainable Energy PlanningOver the past decade, momentum for sustainable energy has been swelling worldwide, with more and more cities embracing environmentally friendly initiatives.

As a result of collaboration between town planners, citizens, the corporate sector and law makers, many international cities have adopted clean energy projects and Australian cities are among world leaders, according to First National Real Estate chief executive, Ray Ellis.

‘Adelaide is planning to be the world’s first carbon neutral city. It has establishing a Green Industries SA renewable energy investment agency and is building solar PV plants. These steps are in line with the state’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2025’ said Mr Ellis.

New research by the New Climate Economy (Global Commission on Economy and Climate) has found that if more cities take steps similar to Adelaide, the savings could amass a current value of US$17 trillion (AU$24 trillion) by 2050.

‘The sustainable energy initiatives that cities, towns and villages undertake reduce their energy costs, improve public health, and help them attract new residents and businesses,’ said Mr Ellis.

‘Green communities attract residents and this bodes well for real estate values. People want to live in homes capable of generating clean energy, whether that be through solar panels installed on the roof, or geothermal pumps dug beneath the house foundations. The level of interest in Tesla’s low cost Powerwall, soon to be made available in Australia, appears to underline the appetite for more sustainable home energy’.

As investment in renewable energy becomes commonplace and cheaper, and as more effective energy storage becomes commercialised, buying a property that is ‘green’ will eventually become more affordable for a wider range of people.

By streamlining the costs of producing green technologies, more houses will come already equipped with these features. In time, expectations will be such that energy efficient houses will be more highly sought after, thereby rising in value more quickly.

What are the latest green trends in housing?

What are the latest green trends in housing?As going green and adopting sustainable development methods are increasingly becoming popular in the real estate and housing construction sectors, several trends are emerging. Here we take a look at what these trends are, and what they mean for the real estate sector  across the country.

Australia and green building goals

In Australia, the Climate Change Authority has set an emissions reduction target of 15 per cent below the levels of the year 2000, to be achieved by 2020. Looking ahead to 2030, this target increases to between 40 and 60 per cent below 2000 levels.

Despite these goals, renewable energy sources aren’t being used as often as they should. Indeed, a recent Energy White Paper produced by the Department of Industry and Science found that only 6 per cent of the total energy consumption over 2012-2013 was generated from renewable sources.

While there is room for things to improve, the biggest positive is that Australians are wanting a greener future for their homes.

Trends in green housing

A whopping 87 per cent of people living in Australia would like solar panels installed on their homes, according to a report by independent market research company Ipsos.

In addition, geothermal energy is also a fairly popular choice, with 45 per cent of people interested in using the heat from below the Earth’s crust to supply warm water to their homes. Geo-exchange pumps are increasingly being used in housing construction, built under the house to transfer the natural heat from underground to the water inside the pipes before residents can shower or wash dishes.

“The results show Australians strongly support renewable energy and demonstrate the importance of involving and consulting locals,” stated Australian Renewable Energy Agency CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

Impact on buying real estate

It can prove to be fruitful to keep these trends in mind when planning to buy real estate. With more and more people attracted to green energy when buying real estate, both agents and buyers can keep note of the value of a home if it comes with environmentally friendly features.

For first home buyers, investing in a green home might at first glance feel like an extra expenditure or outside the budget, but it may in fact end up costing you less in the long term. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Global Energy Issues found that solar water heating can pay for itself five times over, making it a sensible investment.

Why not invest in a home with solar friendly features already included and reap the benefits for years to come?

Simple ways to go green

Simple-ways-to-go-greenGoing green doesn’t mean slapping on a fresh coat of mint-coloured paint in your master bedroom, although that may look fantastic. Making sure your home is green is all about taking practical steps to reduce your impact on the environment. However, this is far from the tiresome chore it can sound like, and in addition to helping Mother Earth, you’ll be assisting yourself by keeping more cash in your pocketbook. Even small changes can make a difference, and there are plenty to choose from.

Opt for better bulbs

Something as simple as trashing your old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will help you to use less electricity. In addition to costing you less on your power bill, these bulbs can also offer a brighter light. While more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they last longer and will save you more in the long run when you consider both replacement costs and your power bill.

Give plugs a rest

Even simpler than replacing light bulbs is unplugging any appliances that run on electricity when they’re not in use. Everything from cellphone chargers to bedside lamps can be using electricity even if they’re switched off. By unplugging these devices when they’re not in use, you’ll be doing your part to cut down on energy usage and put some extra money in your pocket.

Cool down on the heat

Regulated temperature is easy to take for granted until you find yourself sweating or shivering during the hotter and colder months of the year. While it’s tempting to crank the air conditioner or heater up, there are other strategies you can use to stay comfortable without harming the environment and costing yourself a small fortune.

First, making sure your home is properly insulated can go a long way toward keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Secondly, if you do rely on the thermostat, being smart with how you use it is a wise decision. Thirdly, when very hot or very cold, close curtains and window covers to dramatically increase the insulation effect.

Investing in an automatic thermostat is a great way to ensure you’re not wasting energy when you don’t need to be, as these devices can be pre-programmed to come on and off at pre-set times.

Insulation options for homeowners

Insulation-options-for-homeownersInsulation is an often-overlooked piece of the homeowner puzzle. Not only can it keep you warm during winter and cool during summer, it can do wonders for your energy bill.

With this in mind, if you find yourself making decisions regarding the type of insulation to use inside your home, it can pay off to understand exactly what the pros and cons of each option are.

Fibreglass

Perhaps the most well-known type of insulation, fibreglass is created using rock slag, recycled glass, quartz sand, soda ash, limestone and boron. This insulation comes in blankets, segments and loose fill.

It can be found at your local hardware store, and is probably the most widely used insulation material by DIYers.

Wool

Comprised of either new or recycled sheep wool, this type of insulation is often blended with other preservatives and materials to make it stronger. It is also usually treated to make it resistant to pests, mould and fire.

Wool is slightly less effective than fibreglass at containing heat, but the chemicals it is treated with make it more fire-resistant.

Synthetic

Synthetic insulation can come in various forms, including polyester and polystyrene. Polyester is more affordable than fibreglass while offering the same heat-containing properties, while polystyrene is actually better than fibreglass at containing heat.

Both types of insulation are long-lasting, but are also vulnerable if exposed, especially to water. Additionally, polystyrene can shrink over time.

Foam

Made out of urea and formaldehyde, foam insulation is pumped or injected into existing walls before it dries and becomes a solid shape.

This can be very beneficial to home owners who do not wish to remove wall linings or cladding. However, foam insulation can lose its heat-containment strength as it dries, and is not suitable for brick homes.

These are only a few of the options available for home insulation, and regardless of which you choose, it’s important to take effectiveness and cost into account, as chances are you’ll be living with the choice you make for quite some time.

3 Tips To Stave Off Winter Bill Chills

winterbillchillsGas and electricity price hikes are fuelling the flames of discontent for many home owners.  But there are ways to keep ‘bill chills’ at bay as the weather cools.

Recent inflation figures show electricity prices have increased by over 16 per cent a year and gas has risen around 11 per cent a year and as power usage increases when the warm days of summer turn cooler here are three tips to keep the family warm and cosy in winter, without costing the earth.

CONSERVE energy use by turning down thermostats on heaters by one or two degrees and maintain room temperatures between 18 and 21 degrees.  Each degree lower can decrease heating costs by up to 10 per cent.  Energy use can also be lowered if lights are turned off when rooms are empty, compact fluorescent lamps are installed (which use around 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last around 10 times longer) and appliances such as computers and televisions are turned off at the wall whenever possible.  Standby power can account for up to 10 per cent of total power bills.

SEAL up any air leaks around the home, which can raise energy bills by allowing heat to escape outside.  Install draught seals and weather stripping around doors and windows and repair faulty seals.  Insulation will also help retain heat during winter –  homes  insulated to the recommended levels can potentially save 5 to 25 per cent on heating and cooling costs.

DEAL – look at using or installing energy efficient appliances where practical.  Great deals are offered towards the end of the financial year or before the weather fully turns.  Using major appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers or dryers at bed-time and other low energy use times of the day will also produce better deals on power bills.

Reduce Energy Bill Shocks

First National Real Estate says Australians reeling from their first energy bills, post carbon tax introduction, should be doing much more in the home to save on gas and electricity. 

With the cold months still upon us, living costs are already at their peak and, with the additional carbon tax impost, it is even more crucial that people remain vigilant in their efforts to save on energy. 

There are plenty of things people can do in every room of the home to become more energy efficient and in so doing, ease their financial burdens. 

Consider proper insulation throughout the home, lowering thermostats during cooler months, opening and closing curtains at appropriate times during the day and night, and keeping equipment well maintained to operate at maximum efficiency are just a few tips for living areas. 

In the kitchen, set refrigerator thermostat to the most efficient setting, make sure frost doesn’t build up in freezers, keep oven doors closed and lids on pots and pans and make sure dishwashers are full before operating.

Around the home, look at installing a solar hot water system, consider using cold water for washing clothes and turn off electrical appliances and equipment such as computers, when not in use. 

We should all realise that the dollar cost of energy is only part of the problem, we really need to reduce the amount of energy we use altogether.

Agents Should Rate In Energy Scheme

First National Real Estate believes real estate agents have a role to play in any national mandatory disclosure energy efficient rating scheme, so long as it is the right role.

The proper policy and regulations need to be in place, and the appropriate people prescribed the role they are best suited to play.

A national and consistent approach is crucial to any future success of a scheme of this nature.  Current state-based schemes already produce inconsistent ratings and results due to software flaws or subjective interpretation of results often compounded by a lack of correlation between actual energy performance of houses and their star ratings.

The real solution to the mandatory disclosure issue lays with government and industry working together.

Government needs to get the scheme right and put it in place with appropriate support strategies, both in terms of financial resources and implementation, which means getting the regulations and policies passed, educating the general public on the benefits of energy efficiency ratings and funding ongoing research and development.

It then falls to real estate agents to promote the ratings through the marketing of the properties they have on their books to buyers and lessors.

The real question is how assessors are selected and trained and accredited.  It is important that they are independent of the real estate profession so no potential conflict of interest is perceived by consumers.

The First National Real Estate network is committed to environmentally efficient principles and prides itself on its green initiatives – it fully supports a national mandatory disclosure of energy efficient ratings scheme, as long as all players act in the interest of the environment.

Put A Freeze on Costs to Keep Warm

There’s a lot homeowners can do to improve their carbon footprint and keep escalating power bills down during winter.

In winter, the typical Australian household consumes approximately 2700 kWh of energy, which is around 7 per cent more than in the warmer months.

So, while many environmentally-friendly actions should be taken throughout the year, it is during winter that we need to be more diligent and follow some additional guidelines.

Turn down heater thermostats by one or two degrees and close curtains and blinds to reduce heat escaping. Put on warmer clothing, like sweaters, to lessen the reliance on heaters for warmth.

Avoid leaving unnecessary lights on and switch them off when no one is in the room.  Outdoor lights should use motion sensors wherever possible.  Use lower wattage bulbs such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).  Appliances, such as computers and televisions, should be turned off at the wall, if possible.

Inspect the home for air leaks and install draught seals and weather stripping around doors and windows and repair faulty.

Upgrade all areas of the home to recommended insulation levels and potentially save 5 to 25 per cent on heating and cooling costs.

Install energy efficient appliances wherever possible.  Use major appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers or dryers at bed-time and other low energy use times of the day, and avoid using them between 4pm and 9pm – this is the optimal time to power down.