Buy a washing machine that suits your needs and use it wisely.
- Adjust the water level to match the load.
- Use the soak cycle to remove stains.
- Use the sud-saving option to re-use water from previous loads.
- Consider using warm or cold water settings rather than hot.
Drying clothes costs nothing if you use the sun, but this isn't always an option. A clotheshorse can be used in a spare room or near a heater. Avoid using a heater just for drying clothes.
When you do use a clothes dryer:
- consider using the fan only
- set the temperature no hotter than warm
- keep the vent free of lint and clean the filter after each load
- switch the dryer off as soon as the clothes feel dry — never overload or underload the dryer.
Energy saving tips:
lower temperatures increase energy usage
defrost ice build up
make sure doors seal properly
open doors only when necessary and close quickly
keep the condenser coils and seals dust free
keep the fridge out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources
don't put hot food in the fridge
turn off a second fridge that's not being used. An extra fridge can cost over $100 a year to run.
Minimise energy used for cooling the home.
- Close off rooms and sections of the house that are not being cooled.
- To enable air conditioners to run more efficiently, keep air filters clean and outside units clear of obstructions.
- Every degree can reduce your costs by 10%. If you need to cool your home set your thermostat to between 24° and 25°C.
- Leave fresh air and exhaust controls, where available, on cooling units in the closed position.
- Shade windows with awnings or curtains. Blocking the sun before it strikes your glass could save you up to $100 per year in cooling costs.
- If using air conditioning, set fans to high speeds for greatest efficiency.
- Insulated homes retain cool air and minimise heat transference from the outside air.
- Try opening your house up in the evening to let in the cool night air and shut all windows and doors during the day to keep out the afternoon heat.
- Fans can be a cheap, low-energy way of moving cool or warm air around the home. The stream of air blowing over someone in a room can reduce the temperature of the air around them by 2° to 3°C.
By replacing incandescent lights with standard compact fluorescent tubes, you can save up to 75 per cent of your lighting energy dollars (lighting makes up about four per cent of your electricity account). This is especially true for high-use areas such as kitchen, lounge and living areas.
Types of lights and fittings
Incandescent globes are the most common form of household lighting. They are cheap to replace and come in a wide variety of shapes and forms. They can be dimmed only and have an average life span of 1000 hours. They are the least efficient as 95% of energy consumed is given off as heat.
Quartz halogen lights are twice as efficient as incandescent globes. They have a life span of around 2000 to 4000 hours and come in a wide selection of wattages. They cost more to replace than incandescent globes.
Fluorescent lights are the most energy efficient of all light sources and are ideal for areas where lighting is required for long periods. Fluorescent lights fall into two categories tubular and compact fluorescent (CFLs). CFLs use only 25% of energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent lights and last up to eight times longer than other conventional heating. Switching on and off reduces the expected life of the tube.
Hot water uses about 30% of the energy consumed yearly in the average home, so be sure to:
- check regularly for leaks — a leaking hot water system wastes water and uses energy continually
- install a water restrictor or low-flow showerhead
- check hot water taps for leaks
- insulate hot water pipes for at least one metre from the storage heater to retain heat
- have a short shower instead of a bath
- switch off the hot water system when going away for more than two weeks
- fill the kettle or jug from the cold tap and only fill with the amount of water needed.
Heating is a large part of your energy account, yet there are many simple ways of reducing the cost.
- Every degree can reduce your costs by 10%. If you need to heat your home set your thermostat to between 18° and 20° C.
- With the use of good insulation in your roof, walls and floors you can save up to $100 every year.
- Install double glazed windows.
- Close off areas being heated.
- Block off chimneys when not in use.
- Use time switches to provide heating when required.
- Installing good-quality and well-fitted curtains with pelmets and blinds can save you up to 10% on your heating bills.
- Instead of heating the entire bedroom, use an electric blanket just to warm up the bed.
- Cracks and gaps in houses can account for 10 – 15% of heat loss. Save energy by sealing up gaps and install draught excluders under doors, soft rubber weather strips around windows, and seal around skirting and architraves.
- On sunny winter days, take advantage of free warmth by pulling back the curtains and letting the sun through the windows.
- Microwaves cook food 3 times faster than standard full size ovens, saving up to 70% of electricity used for cooking.
- Fan-forced ovens cost 35% less to run than conventional ovens. They force the heat evenly throughout the oven, reducing your cooking time by one-third.
- Save electricity by using efficient appliances like pressure cookers and electric frypans. They use about half the energy of a full-size oven.
- Use the smallest pots and pans possible — it takes less energy to heat them.
- Cooked food must be kept at 60°C and above to stop growth of dangerous bacteria. At 80°C you'll be wasting energy.
- It takes a lot of energy to bring food to the boil, but once boiling the energy setting can be cut by two-thirds. Some vegetables cook quicker in the microwave in less water, with higher retention of water-soluble vitamins.
- Place food in the oven immediately after the oven is turned on and you'll save energy.
- Use the oven light to check on food in the oven rather than opening the door.
- Use dividers and steamers to cook vegetables in the same pot.
- It's best to thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, later assisted by microwave if necessary.
- Implement paper-reducing strategies such as double-sided printing and reusing paper.
- Use email instead of sending memos and faxing documents.
- Purchase appropriately-sized copiers for your needs.
- If appropriate, use laptop computers — they consume 90% less energy than standard desktop computers.
- When purchasing PCs, monitors, printers, fax machines and copiers, specify models that "power down" after a user-specified period of inactivity — and make sure the power-down features are enabled.
- Stand-by power can cost a typical Australian household $50 to $100 per year, reduce costs by turning appliances off at the power point.
Use your dishwasher more efficiently:
- wait until the dishwasher has a full load
- rinse dirty plates in a sink of cold water
- use a good quality detergent and rinse aid
- use energy saving cycles.
Install energy-efficient saving accessories and appliances to help reduce your consumption:
- plug-in timers and time switches allow you to turn appliances such as heaters, fans, lights and air conditioners, on and off
- remember to turn off the TV when no-one is watching it
- if you have a pool, consider a two-speed swimming pool pump to reduce energy consumption and a pool blanket to reduce heat loss. Only use the pool filter in winter to keep the water clean.