Energy-saving features for new homes

large house with solar panels installed on its roof

Danny Baggs

Posted September 15, 2022

When buying, building or renovating a house, it pays to make your home energy efficient. Here’s how to save money and the environment by making smart choices on energy essentials in your home.

Energy efficient homes are more comfortable to live in, cost less to upkeep, and reduce environmental impact. To make your new home more energy efficient, you can consider installing solar panels, solar batteries, induction cooktops, heat pump hot water systemsLED lightbulbs, and other energy-conserving appliances.


Learn how to make your new home more energy efficient.

How do I make my home energy efficient?  

Solar panels

Australia has the highest per-capita uptake of residential rooftop solar power in the world: more than 1 in 4 houses. As greenhouse gas emissions and energy bills rise, solar panels are becoming a more and more attractive option for the savvy homeowner. With solar panels, you can generate and use your own electricity when the sun is shining, rather than buying it from an energy retailer. Good quality solar panels will last up to 25 years and beyond, provided they’ve been installed by an experienced and accredited solar panel installer. Make sure to read up on the benefits of solar panels for your home and to understand how solar power works to ensure you make the best decision for your household. If you can, build your home north-facing and use solar panel-friendly roofing to make the most of your solar energy potential.

Solar batteries

Battery storage has increased by almost 30 per cent in Victoria over the past two years as more Victorians realise how self-sufficient a full solar power system makes them. Installing solar batteries will allow you to store the excess electricity generated by your solar panels during the day, so you can continue to use your own electricity at night. Here’s everything you need to know about household solar batteries to decide whether they’re right for your home. You can also install an electric vehicle (EV) charger, making it faster to charge your car, and doing so with your own solar power.

Heating and cooling

The average Australian home uses a massive 40 per cent of its energy on heating and cooling, which is why Victoria has mandated a minimum energy rating for new homes. The best way to preserve a comfortable temperature in your home, however, is to ensure that the house has adequate insulation installed. Properly insulated homes can halve their power bills compared to homes without insulation. Since 10 to 20 per cent of heat loss in winter is through your windows, you can further conserve heat with heavy curtains and pelmets. Another 15 to 25 per cent of heat loss is due to draughts, so make sure you install weather seals around doors and windows. If you want a heating unit in your house, a reverse-cycle, split-system air conditioner is overall the most efficient option. If you have a solar system, you could end up running your heating and cooling for a very minimal cost. Just make sure to regularly service your heater and/or air conditioner. Alternatively, grab a few electric blankets: they only cost about three cents an hour to run.

Electric power (not gas)

While gas used to be cheap and abundant, electric-powered appliances are now often the cheaper option. Electric appliances are more efficient, cheaper to run, and can use rooftop solar power. An RACV-Renew study in 2020 revealed that you could save about $300 a year in gas supply charges by switching to electric for things like for cooking, heating and hot water, and this saving is set to increase with gas costs rising significantly this year. One of the best ways to go electric is to install an induction cooktop rather than a gas cooktop.


three RACV Solar tradies installing solar panels on a roof

RACV Solar can install solar panels, solar batteries, heat-pump hot water systems and other solar-powered appliances. Image: Matt Harvey

Heat pump hot water system

The average home uses 23 per cent of its energy on hot water – so it pays to install an efficient water heater. Hot water systems are typically powered by gas or electricity, with the option to power some heaters using solar panels. A heat pump water heater is the most efficient hot water system – roughly three times more so than traditional electric water heaters. And, if you have solar panels, you can use your solar power to heat the water during the day and store it for use whenever you're ready, effectively storing the solar energy as hot water and slashing your water heating bill. Make sure to use a qualified technician when choosing and installing a hot water system for your household.

LED lightbulbs

Lighting accounts for up to 10 per cent of the average Australian household’s electricity budget, according to the Australian government website YourHome. By selecting energy efficient lightbulbs, you will save both energy and money. We recommend choosing LED bulbs, which use 75 to 85 per cent less electricity to produce the same amount of light as incandescent lightbulbs. They also cost as little as $4 per bulb per year to run in a high-use area.

Energy efficient appliances

It’s wise to be aware of which household appliances consume the most electricity so that you can save money on your energy bill. Always check the Energy Rating Label on appliances before purchasing: the higher the star rating and the lower the energy consumption figure, the more energy efficient the appliance will be. You can also learn which appliances to spend on or save on to best reduce your energy bills.

Water conservation

Upgrading your washing machines, showers, taps, toilets and other water appliances could reduce your energy costs by up to 65 per cent from reduced water heating, and up to 35 per cent from lower water bills, according to the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER). A lot of homes now come with a water tank; these can be retrofitted to old homes as well. Choose water appliances with a high water efficiency rating – you will find a label on relevant products with a star rating out of six. You can also make your pool more sustainable by using eco-friendly technologies like solar heating, LED pool lighting, and water-harvesting devices.


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