Intelligent and sustainable - how does your home compare?

25 Aug 2016

By Shadforth Financial Group

Environmental sustainability and comfort are not mutually exclusive. Today, there are a number of ways you can reduce your utility bills, boost your comfort and live more sustainably. These systems also add value to your home, and if it’s your principal home, that can make sense from a tax perspective. We take a look at four systems that are at the forefront of home sustainability.

Tesla Powerwall

The Powerwall home battery stores electricity generated by solar panels during the day, so it can power your home at night. Automated, compact and easy to install, each Powerwall system includes solar panels, an inverter for converting electricity between direct current and alternating current, a meter for measuring battery charge, and a secondary circuit that powers key appliances in backup applications. The system enables you to maximise self-consumption of solar power generation.

While current generation home batteries are bulky and expensive to maintain, Tesla says its Powerwall’s lithium ion battery uses their automotive battery technology to power your home safely and economically. In the event of a complete power outage, the system can power your entire home or specific appliances with an uninterrupted supply of electricity.

Geothermal piping systems

Geothermal piping systems come with a host of benefits, the main one being their efficiency rating of 400 per cent – meaning that four units of energy are delivered for every one unit of electrical energy used.

How does it work? The system uses pipes buried in the ground to exchange heat energy between the ground and the building. They work just like a refrigerator, which uses a circulating refrigerant and a compressor to move heat from inside the fridge to outside, decreasing the temperature inside the fridge. As a result, geothermal piping systems have the potential to lower your electricity bill by up to 70%.

Unlike other systems, Geothermal doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or other greenhouse gases which contribute to air pollution. The systems generally last for a minimum of 15 years and the ground loop of the geothermal system, which are the pipes buried in your garden, will normally have a 50-year warranty. A geothermal system is the most environmentally-friendly way to heat and cool your home.

Honda’s Adaptive Circadian Lighting

Honda worked with researchers from the California Lighting Technology Centre at the University of California, Davis to explore new circadian, which means 24-hour, colour control logic. The efficient, solid-state LED lighting mimics the natural shifts in sunlight that occur from morning to night, while the circadian-friendly layout of lights gives you the chance to choose light scenes that complement your circadian rhythms and help enhance your night vision.

The lighting strives to respect your body’s natural clock and rhythm — blue tones are projected during the day and amber tones are projected at night. For example, hall lights at night are amber and supply just enough light to allow you to walk through the house in semi-darkness without depleting a photo pigment in your eye, known as rhodopsin, which allows people to see in low-light conditions. The end result is a home environment that won’t disturb your natural sleep patterns.

Electric roof ventilator

This system uses a ventilator mounted on your house’s roof that uses wind power, or an electric motor in low wind conditions, to cool your home in summer, warm it in winter, and reduce mould and condensation.

During the heat of summer, the system works to remove hot, stifling air from living areas and replaces it with cooler air to create a more comfortable, cooler environment. When winter arrives, it draws warmer air from the roof cavity and moves it into cooler parts of your house. It’s during the winter months that the roof cavity and living areas are more prone to condensation, which can lead to mould. These systems use little electricity and can be installed in most homes as long as there’s sufficient space in the roof cavity for installation.

The cost of these systems varies and some, like the geothermal piping, make most sense if they are installed when your house is under construction. They have the potential to drive down your ongoing costs, which could become important to your financial wellbeing if you retire or if utility costs rise sharply. Being sustainable, comfortable and economical may give you the best of both worlds.

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