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Babies and budgets

Energy use at home

Having a child means many changes in your home. Some of these changes you may be expecting—like the mountains of nappies and changes to your routine. Some of the changes you may not be expecting. Did you know that having a baby can lead to a 25% increase in household energy consumption? There are many reasons for this—you may have more people home during the day leading to increases in heating and cooling, you may want to keep the temperature more controlled for baby, there may be extra washing and drying and so on.

Woman stacking dishwasher

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You may want to take a fresh look at your energy use at home and try some of our tips to reduce your energy bills.

Appliances

Choosing energy-efficient appliances and running them efficiently can help reduce the impact of rising energy use. The price tag doesn't tell the whole story when weighing up the cost of a new refrigerator or washing machine. Many appliances that have a less expensive purchase price may end up costing you far more in energy costs over the lifetime of the product. If you look at the running costs like a 'second price tag' it could help you decide which appliance to buy. Many electric appliances sold in Australia have an Energy Rating Label to help you compare how much electricity the product uses against other appliances. You can also calculate what the running cost will be over the life of the product.

Switch off your hidden energy costs. Did you know that home entertainment systems and electronic gadgets are quietly adding to your power bills? Up to 10% of the electricity used in your home is consumed by gadgets plugged in but not in use, like your TV, mobile phone charger, portable music docks and stereos. If it's got a little light on or clock—it's using power. Switching off electronics that are on standby mode can save you quite a bit of money over the course of a year.

Heating and cooling

Don't heat or cool the rooms that you're not using. Turn heating and cooling off or adjust it when you're out of the house.

Over-heating and over-cooling a baby can have serious risks. Thermal stress (over-heating) has been implicated in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so monitor temperatures in your home and adjust them when necessary.

If you’ve been away for more than a few days you may have turned off your storage hot water system. When you return and switch it back on, allow plenty of time for the water to heat back up to above 60°C and remain at that temperature for a minimum of 35 minutes to kill any bacteria that may have grown. It could take several hours for the water to heat before you can safely use it.

For more information visit Your Home—Hot water service.

Washing and drying clothes

The most energy and water efficient way to wash clothes is to run the machine with a full load using cold water. Front load washing machines are more efficient than top loaders, use less detergent and wash more gently.

Woman and child hang washing on line

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Clothes dryers are big energy users, particularly if you use them all the time. Using a 'solar dryer'—your outdoor clothes line—is the best way to dry clothes. It's free, and the sun provides natural sterilisation and bleaching. You could also use an indoor clothes rack, particularly in winter in a room you are already heating. Not everybody has access to an outdoor line and the weather doesn't always suit line drying, so some use of a clothes rack or clothes dryer may be necessary.

Using appliances efficiently can have a significant impact on reducing energy costs.

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