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From sun to rainwater – three eco-friendly ways to boost your home’s sustainability

f your family is looking for a way to reduce its carbon footprint and save some money, there are some simple steps you can take to make your entire home more sustainable – and they start in your backyard.

From solar to rainwater, to eco-friendly lighting, let’s take a look at some environmentally-friendly outdoor additions for your home. Here are three top tips to consider before you roll up your sleeves to get started.

1. Heat your water with solar
A solar hot water system works by using energy from the sun to heat your hot water. It’s a wonderful way to save money on your energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions too. In fact, a solar water heater could meet up to 90% of your household’s hot water requirements – so switching to solar could be very beneficial for your home.

Not to be confused with a solar panel system, a solar hot water system is dedicated to heating your hot water, rather than providing energy to your whole house. It’s worth noting you can in fact install both a solar panel system and a solar hot water system, and the two will work independently.

Key points to remember:

  • Size matters. Choose a solar hot water system based on your household’s size and requirements. The typical Aussie uses 80 litres of hot water a day. If you live in a cooler climate or have a large household, you might benefit from a larger solar hot water system. 
  • Consider a booster. You might like to look into installing an electric or gas booster, in case a low-solar day impacts your hot water availability. The booster acts as ‘back-up’, keeping your water fully heated on days where there isn’t enough sun to do the job. 
  • Placement. In Australia, your solar hot water panels should be installed on the roof, facing as close to the north as they can. You can also have them facing east or west, although they may not receive as much energy from the sun as north-facing placement offers. Learn more about how shading and your roof placement can impact your energy consumption. 

2. Save your rainwater 

No matter where you live in Australia, your family can benefit from collecting and reusing rainwater. A clever way to do this, is with a water tank. Saving rainwater is beneficial for homes in the city, suburbs, and remote towns. Whether you’re facing water shortages, or simply would like to reduce your reliance on this precious resource, a water tank could reduce up to 100% of your mains water use – so it’s definitely worth considering

Key points to remember 

  • Diverse use. Water from a rainwater tank can be used for anything from flushing your toilet to clothes washing, to lawn irrigation. 
  • Tank size. Consider how much water your family will need access to before choosing your tank size. You can calculate your home’s water usage or  check out historical rainfall in your area to inform your decision. You can also take a look at the Australian Government’s guide for a 4 person household:

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From a safety perspective, it’s best to ensure your family doesn’t drink from your rainwater tank, unless it’s been designed, installed, and treated by a professional to minimise contamination 

3. Light the way with LED

If you’d like your outdoor area to shine bright, lighting is an important factor to get right. One sustainably smart idea is to switch from traditional lightbulbs to LED lighting. LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes – and these revolutionary globes can both save on greenhouse gas emissions and keep more money in your pocket.

Key points to remember 

  • Energy efficient. LED lighting uses around 75% less energy than conventional lightbulbs. Say hello to lower energy bills. 
  • Less landfill. LEDs can also last up to 10 times longer, so you won't need to worry about replacing them as often – and you’ll be doing your part to reduce landfill. 
  • Rebates on offer. The government may offer rebates or reimbursements when you replace your traditional lighting with LED lights. See if your state government offers rebates to make the switch.

Keen for more information on LED’s advantage? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to LED lighting. 

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.