Energy saving tips for home

The following practical tips can help you save on your energy bill.

Laundry

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.

Fridges and freezers

  • 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.

Cooling

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.

Lighting

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.

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 lighting. Switching on and off reduces the expected life of the tube.

Hot water

Hot water uses about 25%* 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.

 

*Wright, J; Osman,P and Ashworth, P. (2009). The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook. How to save energy, save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Australia, Pac Macillian Pty Ltd

Heating

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.
  • Changing to a more efficient appliance such as a 6 star rated gas heater can save you up to 30% on your heating bills (depending on the rating of the current appliance).
  • 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.

Cooking

  • 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.

Home office

  • 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.

Reasons for a high bill

If you've noticed changes in your energy bills, ask yourself these questions to pin-point the reason for the change in your usage and provide you with real solutions to reduce consumption.

  • Have you recently had guests to stay? Even just a couch-surfer can have an impact on your bill.
  • Have you bought new appliances? We can Assist you to make sure you're using your appliances in the most cost-effective manner.
  • Check to see if your hot water system is leaking. Contact Home Services for installation, repair and service of your appliances.
  • Check to see if your fridge seals are tight. Contact Home Services for installation, repair and service of your appliances.
  • Have you recently had a baby? Loads more washing plus keeping your new addition's room warm will see your bills increase. See our energy saving ideas for other ways you can save.
  • Read your meter daily and make a record of the results. It'll give you a clear picture of when your consumption increases and force you to think about why.
  • Complete our winter checklist. It'll help you prepare your home as the temperatures drop and help you manage your winter energy costs.