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OUR 5 FAVOURITE SUMMER RENOS

By Emma Smith

We’re knocking on the door of a beautiful balmy summer – the best time of the year to be Australian. During everybody’s favourite season there’ll no doubt be long warm nights outside enjoying food and drink with friends and family.

A great way to make sure you enjoy these moments as much as possible is to make a few targeted changes around the house. Get the hammer and nails out before it’s too hot – these are our five favourite summer home renovations.

By installing a mid-range solar energy system you’ll save between $866 and $1226 every year.

1. GO GREEN

The experts at Solar Gain estimate that by installing a mid-range solar energy system you’ll save between $866 and $1226 every year, depending on where you live and the amount of energy you use. That’s a serious saving, which means that most solar panels should pay themselves off within six years.

With that in mind, why not go green and generate your own power over summer? Solar Market’s buying guide estimates that the average system should cost between $3,500 and $6,000. It’s a hefty upfront cost for sure, but one that could save you thousands in the long run.

Plus you can sleep well at night knowing that your home’s energy is being generated via completely renewable and environmentally friendly methods.

2. EXTEND THE DECK

Basic pine decking will cost you around $200/sqm to build.

The vintage Australian summer happens on planks of treated pine in a spacious backyard. If you’ve got the space but not the decking, now could be the perfect time to remedy that problem by getting the tools out and getting stuck in yourself.

If you’re not too handy with a hammer and nail, Home Improvement Pages estimates that basic pine decking will cost you around $200/sqm to build. On the other hand, decking with roofing or stairs is likely to cost you at least $800/sqm.

Improving your decking is not only a great way to better enjoy your summer – it could also increase the value of your home if you ever decide to sell.

3. THINK ENERGY-EFFICIENT

Rememberevery degree colder your air conditioner is will result in a 10-15 per cent increase in costs.

A staggering 40 per cent of the average Australian home’s energy use comes from heating and cooling, government data shows. With 40 degree temperatures on the way, that cost could be about to increase dramatically.

Make your summer more comfortable (and affordable) by making sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Consider installing removable shades on north facing windows, or close the blinds during the hottest part of the day to stop the sun from warming up your home.

Have your insulation and window seals checked by a tradesman to ensure they’re up to scratch, and consider double glazing your windows to help keep cool air in and heat out.

Remember, every degree colder your air conditioner is means a 10-15 per cent increase in costs, so try to keep the heat pump at 25 degrees rather than 16.

4. BRING THE KITCHEN OUTDOORS

If you’re in an area where it’s warm for most of the year an outdoor kitchen could be the perfect renovation to help you better enjoy your summer. We’re not talking about a chopping board next to the barbie – outdoor kitchens have evolved to include bench space, stoves, bar fridges and even coffee machines.

The key to designing something workable is to locate it nearby your indoor living areas, in a shaded and covered area.

Getting your hands dirty in the garden almost certainly makes you a happier person.

The bare minimum should include bench space for food prep next to a burner or barbecue, but there are plenty of options if you’re after something more premium. A generous sink, a small fridge, cupboard space and outdoor lighting is a great start. Just make sure everything you install is at least IP67 waterproof and certified for use outdoors.

5. SCULPT THE GARDEN

The Permaculture College of Australia gathered academic research on gardening’s affect on your brain, and came to a startling conclusion. Getting your hands dirty in the garden almost certainly makes you a happier person.

The research they collated found that the process of gardening releases seratonin – a happy chemical which is responsible for restful sleep and mood regulation. Harvesting fruit and veggies releases dopamine – a chemical that triggers the reward centre of the brain to induce a state of mild euphoria or joy.

On that note, if you spend time getting the whole home ready for summer with a few small renovations, you’ll enjoy the balmy days to to come even more. Get started before it’s too hot and make sure this is a summer to remember.

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