Energy saving tips & checklists

There’s no doubt that the ACT and surrounding regions experience the highs and lows of all four seasons. Our summers can deliver temperatures of more than 40 degrees, while we shiver through winter mornings that can plummet to -7.

These extremes mean we’re more likely to switch on the aircon or heating systems, placing upward pressure on our bills.

Because ActewAGL has been part of the local community for more than  100 years, we understand this region’s energy needs and usage patterns better than most. To help you reduce your energy use and save money – while still staying snug in winter and cool in summer – we’ve  compiled some practical energy saving tips.

Keep your cool in summer

  • The best solution to keeping cool is to prevent the sun’s rays from hitting the windows and walls. Blinds and curtains are good, but only half as effective as keeping the sun off your windows in the first place. Consider planting deciduous trees and shrubs to shade your home in summer and allow the sun to heat it in winter.
  • 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.
  • Never set your air-conditioner lower than 24°C. Every degree lower than that can add 10% to your electricity bill.
  • Use a timer on the pool filter so it only runs when needed. Pool pumps are major energy guzzlers.
  • Limit the use of heat-generating appliances such as ovens, halogen lights and plasma televisions.

Warm up to winter

  • For most households, space heating accounts for more than half of the year’s energy use, so remember every degree you lower the thermostat will save up to 10% on your heating bill.
  • Check that you have adequate insulation in the roof and walls to minimise heat loss. Ceiling batts should be about 20cm thick or R4.1 (or above). Seal any gaps and cracks around windows and doors using sealants and door snakes.
  • By reducing the amount of time you heat by one hour a day, you’ll save up to 90 hours of heating costs over winter.
  • Minimise the space you’re trying to heat – only heat the rooms you’re using and close the door 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 cheap to buy, but they could be very expensive to run.

Stay out of hot water

  • After heating, hot water is the second-biggest consumer of energy in most Canberra homes, accounting for 16% of total energy use.
  • Reduce the temperate of your hot water storage tank to 60°C and save up to 10% on water heating. If you have an instantaneous hot water system, check that your thermostat is no higher than 50°C.

Be kitchen-clever

  • Check that the temperature of your fridge and freezer is not set too low. Fridges should be between 3°C and 5°C and freezers between -15°C and -18°C. Every degree lower uses 5% more energy.
  • Check fridge seals by placing a piece of paper between the body of the fridge and the door, then shut the door. If the paper doesn’t move easily when you try to remove it, it’s a good seal. If it easily slips out, the seals are worn and you may be wasting significant amounts of energy.
  • When stove-top cooking, you can reduce energy use by up to 70% by simmering with pot lids on.
  • Use a microwave where possible – they use about 80% less energy than your stove.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s full and make sure it’s on the economy cycle.
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances. Although the initial purchase price may be higher, the running costs over the lifetime of the appliance will be far less.

Is your laundry clean?

  • Wash your clothes in cold water as hot water can increase your energy costs by up to 90%.
  • Electric dryers are the fourth-biggest energy users in the home. Dry your clothes in the sun to make considerable savings.
  • If you do use a dryer, throw a small dry towel in with your load to absorb the moisture of the wet clothes (taking it out when it becomes too wet itself). It can speed up drying time by 25%.
  • Dry your washing in quick, consecutive loads to benefit from the warmth from the previous load.

Star rating

When buying an appliance be sure to carefully check its Energy Rating Label, which allows you to compare its energy efficiency and running costs. The more stars, the more efficient the appliance is when compared with other models of the same size.

The aim of the Energy Rating Label, regulated by the Australian Government, is to:

  • encourage buyers to choose appliances that use less energy
  • enable buyers to take into consideration the annual energy cost of operating an appliance, and also its total (life cycle) cost
  • encourage manufacturers and importers to improve the energy efficiency of products.

Image of Electricty/Energy Rating sticker, including star rating and kWh per year.

  • refrigerators
  • freezers
  • dishwashers
  • washing machines
  • clothes dryers
  • heat pumps (with output capacities up to 7.5 kW)

Image of Gas Energy Rating sticker, including star rating and usage per year - The Australian Gas Association.

  • natural gas space (room) heaters
  • natural gas ducted heaters (central heating)
  • natural gas water heaters

Image of Water Rating sticker, including star rating and Litres per wash - www.waterrating.gov.au

  • washing machines
  • dishwashers
  • showerheads
  • toilets
  • flow regulators and taps
  • Choose the right appliance