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Energy-efficient home ideas

Giving you the power to waste less and save more.

Tips for reducing energy

Tips to reduce your energy use and save on your power bills

It may surprise you that we’re actually encouraging you to become more energy efficient and lower your energy bill. But as Canberra’s leading, local gas and electricity retailer, we’re committed to empowering you—our customers and community.

Small changes to the way you use energy in and around your home could add up to big savings.  Here's how.

How to save energy inside your home

  • Upgrade your electricity meter to make informed choices about how and when you use your appliances—and unlock potential savings. A new meter will record your actual usage at regular intervals throughout the day, which you can access anytime at My.ActewAGL.

    Upgrade your meter

  • Space heating accounts for more than half of a household’s annual energy costs. Small adjustments to how and when you use your heater can help you save.

    • Aim to keep the temperature set between 18–20°C.
    • Check the auto timers on your heater. By having your heater on an hour less a day, you’ll save up to 90 hours of heating costs over winter.
    • Minimise the space you heat—only heat the rooms you’re using. Close all doors to unused rooms and all windows.
    • Instead of heating your bedroom, consider an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
    • Efficient gas space heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners are cheaper to run than standard electric heaters.
    • Install the right sized reverse-cycle air conditioner for the space you need to heat and keep it maintained so it operates efficiently (e.g. regularly clean the air filters and coils).
    • Reduce heat loss by sealing any gaps and cracks around windows and doors.
    • Don't place furniture in front of heaters.
    • Using rugs and carpets on slab floors can retain heat in your home.

    Reverse-cycle air conditioners are a year-round solution. By upgrading your unit, you’ll get the latest in heating and cooling and see ongoing energy savings.

    Upgrade to a reverse-cycle air conditioner and save

  • Did you know you could save up to 10% on your energy bill by changing the temperature by just one degree*?

    • Keep your air conditioner set between 25-27°C in summer.
    • The most effective way to keep your home cool during the day is to prevent the sun’s rays from hitting windows and walls. Blinds, curtains and reflective window tints all help reduce the air conditioning load.
    • At night, place a fan near an open window—it will blow hot air out of the room, replacing it with cold air from outside. Open another window elsewhere to encourage a cross breeze.
    • Use fans to circulate cool air from your air conditioner.

    Reverse-cycle air conditioners are a year-round solution. By upgrading your unit, you’ll get the latest in heating and cooling and see ongoing energy savings.

    Upgrade to a reverse-cycle air conditioner and save

  • For the average Australian household, hot water heating accounts for about 23% of your energy bill.^

    • Reduce the temperate setting of your hot water system to 60°C to save up to 10% on water heating. If you have an instantaneous system, check that your thermostat is set no higher than 50°C.
    • Insulate hot water tanks and pipes to limit heat loss.
    • Regularly check your hot water system to ensure there aren’t any leaks.
    • If your hot water system is 10 or more years old, you may want to consider upgrading to an energy-efficient electric water heater.
    • Ensure that you get the right system for the number of people in your home and position it near where you use the most hot water.
    • A typical family uses about 75% of hot water for showers so switch to a water-efficient shower head and make short showers a habit.
    • Examine your shower flow rate. You can check this by running shower water into a bucket for 15 seconds. Measure the water and multiply by four to get your flow rate per minute. If it’s more than nine litres per minute, consider switching to a water-efficient shower head.

    Upgrade to an energy-efficient electric water heater and save

  • If possible, try to buy energy-efficient appliances—check out their star rating to compare. More stars means less running costs (five stars is the maximum).

    Clothes dryers

    This appliance is a significant energy user in the home. If you have a new smart meter, it’s a good idea to change your habits and aim to use dryer during shoulder and off-peak periods throughout the day (this is known as time-shifting).

    • Dry washing outside or under ducted heating vents.
    • If you must user the dryer, aim for quick, consecutive loads to benefit from the warmth from the previous load.
    • Add a small dry towel to your load to reduce drying time by up to 25%.
    • Leave about a quarter of your dryer’s barrel empty so heat can circulate more freely.
    • Clean your dryer’s lint filter after each load.

    Washing machine

    • Wash clothes in cold water and try to wait until you have a full load. Washing with hot water can increase your energy costs by up to 90%.

    Refrigerator and freezer

    • Check the temperature settings aren't too low. Fridges should be between 3–5°C and freezers between -15– -18°. Every degree lower uses 5% more energy.
    • Ensure that the fridge seals are tight. You can check this by putting a piece of paper between the door and the fridge, close the door and then pull. If the paper slips out easily, it's time to replace the seals.
    • Getting rid of a second fridge could save around $170 a year in electricity costs*. Check out our Fridge Buyback program.
    • Too much ice makes your freezer work harder. If the ice is thicker than half a centimetre, consider a defrost.
    • Position your fridge and freezer away from direct sunlight and leave a gap around it to let the air circulate.
    • Keep doors closed and try to limit the number of times you open the fridge door.


    Only run your dishwasher when it’s full and use the economy cycle. Skip the pre-rinse and air dry your dishes if you can. If you have a new smart meter, it’s a good idea to time-shift this appliance.

    Pool pumps and filters

    These use a lot of energy so it's a good idea to set a timer so they only run when needed. If you have a new smart meter, it’s a good idea to time-shift this appliance.

    Screens and charging

    You could reduce your energy usage by up to 3% by switching off standby appliances.**

    • Don't leave laptops and phones attached to chargers.
    • TVs, DVD players, computers, stereos and game consoles still use energy in standby mode. When not in use, switch these appliances off at the wall.


    • Use a microwave when possible as it uses about 80% less energy than a stove or oven.
    • When simmering on a stove top, you can reduce energy use by up to 70% by putting pot lids on.
    • Use appropriately-sized pots with flat bottoms and tight fitting lids.
    • Make sure oven doors close tightly and seals are in good condition.
    • Make sure you’re not making an appliance work harder than it needs to. For example, defrost food in the fridge overnight rather than in the microwave.
    • Use an electric kettle rather than the stove to boil water.
  • Switching to energy-efficient lights could reduce your lighting costs by up to 88%.*

    • Replace halogen with LED bulbs, especially in places where lights are on for long periods. Quality LED bulbs last 5–10 times longer than halogen bulbs.
    • Choose fluorescent tubes as they use a quarter of the electricity of ordinary bulbs and last around eight times longer.
    • Choose the lowest wattage bulb for the room’s lighting needs.
    • Install motion detectors to control lighting in frequently unoccupied areas, like the garage.
    • Clean lamps and fittings regularly—over time, dirt build up reduces light output.
    • Light switch dimmers save energy and can extend the life of bulbs.
    • Install multiple zones switches in large open plan spaces to cover different areas. This way you can restrict your lighting to only the area you are using.
    • Illuminate garden paths with lamps fitted with batteries that store solar energy.
    • If you only need a small amount of light, use lamps or spotlights instead of main lights.
household usage

Best energy saving tips for outside your home

    • An investment in window glazing or insulating film could save you money in the long run. High-quality glass and glazing restricts the temperature outside your home getting in and vice versa. The right window frames could also make a difference to your energy needs.
    • Lighter colour blinds can reflect solar heat, whereas darker blinds attract it. Consider changing your blinds to a different colour with a reflective surface on the back.
    • Fit your blinds and pelmet tightly. This helps provide a barrier to prevent hot air entering during summer and escaping during winter.
    • Heavy fabric or layers of curtain can increase insulation in your home and prevent heat loss.
  • The shading around the outside of your home, whether it’s natural (plants) or manmade (coverings and other external fixtures), can reduce the amount of heat that enters your home. Adding shading around your home can block up to 90% of heat generated by the sun.*

    • Light coloured, reflective external shading will more effectively stop heat entering your home.
    • Deciduous plants, ideally placed on the north side of your home, will help to reduce heat absorption from the summer sun, but also allow sun to filter through during winter.
    • Hard materials, like pavers, attract and hold heat. Replacing them with ground cover plants will reduce the amount of heat that’s attracted.
    • Combining plants with pergolas and outdoor areas can filter unwanted sun and provide seasonal shading.
    • If you have an east and/or west facing verandah, pergola or balcony, you may be receiving a lot of unwanted early and evening sunlight. Placing plants around the structure can help shade unwanted sun.
  • Acting as a barrier to protect your home from hot and cold conditions outside, insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home. Insulating your entire home properly could help reduce your heating and cooling energy consumption by 50%*.

    • Roof insulation is installed under the roofing material and above the ceiling. It stops heat being transferred between the roof space and rooms below. Ceiling batts should be about 20cm thick or R4.1 (or above).
    • Consider wall and floor insulation too.
  • The air flow in and out of your home can affect the inside temperature. That’s why draught proofing and weather sealing are important.

    • Fill cracks or gaps in your interior wall joints with caulking and other expandable sealers.
    • Check windows and door frames and caulk any gaps or spaces. Check that doors also have a door sweep.
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