20 ways to save energy at home

There are dozens of ways you can save energy at home. The list below targets some of the energy hotspots found in most homes. Here are some tips to get you started:

Heating and cooling

Around 40% of home energy use goes to heating and cooling, so any efficiencies you make in this area can have a significant impact on your energy use.

Control your climate. In winter, set your heating between 18°C to 20°C. In summer, set your cooling between 25°C to 27°C. Every little bit counts: in fact, each 1°C increase to heating and cooling systems can increase its energy use between 5% and 10%.

Dress for the season. Rather than turning to heating and cooling systems to keep you comfortable, add an extra layer of clothing or a throw rug in winter, or dress in lighter layers in summer.

Close off rooms not in use. Shut doors and vents to unused areas and only heat or cool the rooms you’re using. Overnight, extra bedding is a cheaper way to stay warm than keeping the heater on.

Take the time to draught-proof. Sealing gaps and cracks to stop air leaking is a cheap way to cut your energy bill by up to 25%. Use a draught stopper to prevent air leaking under doors and apply weather seals to windows, skirting boards, skylights and cornices. If renting, check with your landlord or property manager before fitting any weather seals.


Improve window efficiency.

Prevent heat loss or gain with well-fitted curtains and blinds, these will trap a layer of air next to your windows. In winter, open curtains to let the sun in during the day and close them before it gets dark. In summer, close curtains during the hottest part of the day. While double glazing will improve your windows’ efficiency, a cheaper option to consider is transparent film. This has insulating properties and will reduce heat gain and loss. If you're renting check with your landlord or property manager before installing.

Catch the breeze. In summer, make the most of natural airflow in the cooler parts of the day by opening windows to bring in the breeze and let the hot air out.

Use fans before air conditioning. Fans only cost about 2 cents an hour to run: this is far less than an air conditioner.

Use fans to circulate hot air. Not only do fans reduce the temperature by 2°C or 3°C, they circulate air and can improve the effectiveness of other cooling systems in summer. In winter, using ceiling fans to push the air downwards improves heating efficiency. Where this option exists, the fan or remote control should clearly indicate the winter setting to reverse airflow.

Hot water

Heating water accounts for about 25% of household energy use, so any reduction to your usage can have a positive impact on your energy use.

Get the hot water temperature right. The recommended setting for thermostats is 60°C for storage hot water systems and no more than 50°C for instantaneous systems.

Give your hot water a holiday. If you are away for more than a week, turn off your storage hot water system to save money and energy. When turning it back on, allow time for the water to become hot enough to kill any bacteria that may have grown (water must remain above 60°C for at least 35 minutes before you can safely use it. It can take several hours to reach this temperature).

Don’t use the shower to warm up. Staying in the shower uses up to 20 times as much energy as getting out and standing under two heat lamps.

Install a water-efficient showerhead. Water-efficient showerheads can save up to $160 a year on energy and water bills for a two-person household, as these use 40% less water than their more inefficient equivalents.

Replacing a hot water system. If your system fails, replacing it with a suitable energy-efficient model can reduce energy use. Research the options in advance to avoid making a rushed decision.

Appliances

Appliances account for up to 30% of home energy use so what you buy and how you use it can make a big difference.

Compare and estimate running costs. Use the Energy Rating website, www.energyrating.gov.au (or the site’s Energy Rating Calculator for your phone) to compare running costs of appliances. A higher star-rated model may cost a little more upfront, but will reduce energy use and total costs.

Purchase energy-efficient appliances. An energy-efficient model will have reduced running costs over inefficient appliances, savings that can add up to more than any purchase price difference over the life of the product. The Energy Rating Label shows you how efficient a particular appliance is—the more stars the better. A water-efficient dishwasher or washing machine will save energy as well as water, so look at both the energy and water efficiency star rating labels on these machines.

Use appliances efficiently. There’s often an energy efficient way to use your appliances, whatever their age. For example, washing clothes with cold water can save up to 10 times more energy than a warm wash.

Lighting

Lighting consumes between 8% and 15% of the average household electricity budget.

Use natural light. If it’s light outside, open the curtains or blinds rather than switching on a light. Lighter coloured furnishings and reflective surfaces can also reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Use lights efficiently. Use efficient reading lamps rather than lighting a whole room. Make it standard practice to switch lights off when you leave a room and consider sensors for outdoor lights.

Switch to energy-efficient lighting. Replace old-style globes with LEDs or CFLs, which use around 80% less energy. They should also last between 4 and 10 times longer.

More tips

YourEnergySavings.gov.au has many practical ways to save energy, water and money at home while staying comfortable. It includes: