Tips to reduce your energy use

Heating

  • Space heating accounts for more than half of your annual energy costs. This is a key appliance where small adjustments can really add up to help you save.
  • Every degree you lower the thermostat will save up to 10% on your heating bill. Aim to keep the temperate set between 18°–20°.
  • Check the auto timers on your heater. By reducing your heating time by one hour 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 and close all doors and windows to contain the heat.
  • 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. Portable electric heaters might be inexpensive to buy, but they can be very expensive to run.
  • Reduce heat loss by sealing any gaps and cracks around windows and doors and ensure the insulation in your roof and walls is adequate. Ceiling batts should be about 20cm thick or R4.1 (or above).
  • Don't place furniture in front of heaters as this will reduce its output.

Cooling

  • Avoid setting your air conditioner lower than 24°C. Every degree lower can add 10% to your electricity bill.
  • The most effective way to keep you 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.

Water heating

  • Reduce the temperate setting of your hot water system to 60° (instead of 70°– 80°) to save up to 10% on water heating. If you have an instantaneous system, check that your thermostat is set no higher than 50°.
  • Insulate hot water tanks and pipes to limit heat loss.
  • Ensure there are no leaks in your hot water system.
  • If your hot water system is 10+ years old there may be a more efficient replacement to consider. A hot water heat pump suitable for Canberra winters is an excellent alternative to an electric element system.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. Washing with hot water can increase your energy costs by up to 90%.
  • A typical family uses about 75% of hot water for showers. Switch to a water efficient shower head and make short showers a habit.

Electrical appliances

Check the star rating when buying appliances to compare energy efficiency. More stars means less running costs.

Clothes dryers are the fourth-biggest energy users in the home. If you have a smart meter aim to timeshift this appliance.

  • Dry washing outside or position under ducted heating vents to make considerable savings.
  • Dry washing in 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%.

Refrigerator/freezer

  • Check the temperature settings are not too low. Fridges should be between 3°–5° and freezers between -15°– -18°. Every degree lower uses 5% more energy.
  • Ensure that the fridge seals are tight. You can check this with the paper test. Put 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.

Dishwasher

Only run your dishwasher when it’s full load and use the economy cycle. If you have a smart meter aim to time-shift this appliance.

Pool pumps and filters

Set a timer so it only runs as required—this appliance is a significant energy user! If you have a smart meter aim to time-shift this appliance.

Screens and charging

  • Switch off TVs and gaming consoles at the wall when not in use.
  • Don't leave laptops and phones attached to chargers.
  • Ensure the 'sleep' feature is enabled to power down such devices.

Cooking

  • Use a microwave when possible as it will use about 80% less energy than a stove or oven.
  • When stove-top cooking, you can reduce energy use by up to 70% by simmering with 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.

Lighting

  • Replace halogen with LED bulbs, especially where lights are on for long periods. Quality LED bulbs last 5–10 times longer than halogen bulbs and you can save up to 88% off your lighting costs.
  • Also choose fluorescent tubes, they use a quarter of the electricity consumed by ordinary bulbs and last around eight times longer.
  • Reduce bulb wattage—choose the lowest wattage bulb required to meet the room’s lighting needs.
  • Install motion detectors to control lighting in frequently unoccupied areas e.g. security or garage lights.
  • 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.
  • When installing lighting in a large open-plan space, install multiple zones switches to cover different areas that way you can restrict your lighting to only the area you are using.
  • Paint rooms in a light colour, as this helps reflect available light.
  • Illuminate garden paths with lamps fitted with batteries that store solar energy.