Saving power in the home
Taking a few simple steps to save power in your home can significantly reduce your next electricity bill – and of course your carbon footprint. Here are 30 simple and affordable tips to help your household become more energy efficient…
Switch off appliances and lights
- Switching appliances off at the power point to eliminate standby power can reduce energy usage in the average home by up to 10%. If you find it hard to remember or difficult to reach, use an EcoSwitch to make it easy.
- Consider hiring an energy meter from your local council or sustainability network to help you calculate how much energy is being consumed by each appliance and better understand your energy use.
- Before you go on holiday, remember to turn off everything – your TV, DVD, PS3, audio system, microwave, fridge, and electric (or gas if it has a pilot light) hot water service. Even some washing machines have a ‘standby’ mode which means they’ll use energy even when not in use. An EcoSwitch is especially handy for turning off your holiday-house fridge (and beer fridges).
- Don’t forget to turn off the lights every time you leave a room or an outdoor area. According to The Alternative Technology Association (ATA), leaving outdoor lights on for long periods can double your lighting bill.
- Consider turning off your microwave at the power point (or with an EcoSwitch) when not in use. In an average household, it’s likely the clock uses more electricity running 24/7 x 365 than is used actually microwaving stuff.
Choose energy efficient appliances
- When you need to upgrade your appliances, always try and select those with a good energy rating (six stars being the best).
- According to the The Low Carbon Lifestyles report, commissioned by electricity company Origin, upgrading to an efficient heater can save up to $460 for some households.
- Consider buying a front loader washing machine when you next need one – it will not only use less energy to run, but also less water and less detergent. An all-round environmentally better option.
- When shopping for a new fridge, think twice before selecting one with fancy functions like ice-makers. These and fridges with a door within a door can consume a considerable amount of power, as they come equipped with heaters around the door seals to prevent frost building up inside. More openings means more heaters.
- If you own an old fridge with coils at the back, clean the coils regularly as they will dissipate heat quicker when clean.
- Install ceiling fans as an energy efficient alternative to costly air conditioning units.
Change to energy saving light globes
- Throw out your energy sucking halogen and incandescent light bulbs. LED lighting is the most energy efficient option, although they cost slightly more to buy. As an alternative, Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Light bulbs use 80% less electricity than incandescent globes.
Follow Nanna’s tips for heating and cooling
- Adjusting the thermostat in your home by just one degree can save the average household up to 15% on heating and cooling costs each year.
- Manage your home environment the traditional way – when it’s hot, open windows early in the morning and late at night to capitalise on cool breezes. During the Winter, opening windows during the day to remove humidity will allow your heater to work more efficiently at night.
- Use thick blinds or curtains and pelmets to fully insulate your windows – approx. 30% of a typical home’s heating and cooling is lost through its windows and doors.
- In the Winter, remember to draw blinds and curtains before night (and the temperature) falls to prevent heat escaping through the window pane. In Summer, close blinds and curtains to block direct sunlight heating up a room.
- Avoid heating or cooling your whole house – instead focus on the rooms you regularly use and close the doors to other areas. This simple step can make a dramatic difference to your electricity bill.
- Manage your own thermostat first! If you’re hot, dress in lighter clothes. If you’re cold, try putting on another layer, slippers and a scarf. Add extra blankets to the bed in Winter instead of turning up the heater.
- When you expect a hot day, don’t wait until the room is becoming unbearably hot before turning on the air conditioning. Instead, turn it on early and use the thermostat to maintain a constant, steady temperature.
- Keep your fridge full. If you don’t have enough food, use plastic bottles full of water, but don’t add them all at once!
- Making a cuppa for two? Well don’t fill the kettle up like you’re expecting an invasion! Using less water means the kettle will boil quicker too.
Insulate, insulate, insulate
- Consider the insulation in your home. Investing in good insulation may not be as costly as you think and with electricity charges continuing to sky-rocket, you may recognise a return on investment in just a few years. If you do decide to update your insulation, remember that ceilings lose the most, followed by the walls and finally the floor. Ceiling and wall insulation can reduce power used for heating and cooling by nearly 50%.
- Insulate around your bath tub as heaps of ‘hot’ is lost just filling it up. Note: this is easy to do in new homes (builders rarely do this so make sure you do), more difficult in homes with timber floors (you may be able to get limited access from underneath, around the waste pipe) but almost impossible for homes on a slab.
- If you have an electric hot water tank outside, you’ll save significant money by insulating it thoroughly. Consider building a box around it and insulating that (just make sure you can still regularly access and test the pressure (overflow) valve).
Mind the gap
- Sealing gaps around your doors, windows and chimneys will not only reduce draughts but also prevent warm air from escaping/entering the room, saving you money on heating and cooling costs. For doors, use either solid or brush strips (depending on your floor material) and for windows, use a sealing strip (there are many varieties available).
- Another top tip from Nanna – use a door snake in Winter to reduce draughts under doors and keep the heat in the room you are heating.
- Don’t forget your exhaust fans. To prevent air escaping through the ceiling, place a draught stopper over the exhaust fan in your roof. This creates a seal when the exhaust fan is switched off, reducing the amount of warm/cool air lost.
- If you’ve got a built-in woodheater or an open fireplace and your house has a timber floor, you’ve probably already noticed cold drafts coming in from outside around your doors and windows (especially when your fire is roaring). This is air rushing in to fuel the combustion. You can easily beat this by cutting a hole directly in front of your built-in woodheater or open fireplace, allowing cool/cold dense (thus oxygen rich) air from under the floor to feed the fire. You also won’t feel so drowsy – more oxygen for you! Get clever with a metal elbow to direct the air – a rustic solution is an old truck exhaust manifold.
Work with your natural environment
- Install removable awnings or plant deciduous trees to provide much needed shade in the Summer but still maximise Winter sun. External shading of windows is twice as effective as internal blinds in preventing heat penetration.
- Paint West-facing walls with a heat reflecting paint.