Energy saving ideas for the whole house
Choose energy-efficient appliances
Appliances account for up to 30% of your home energy use, so the type of appliances you choose and the way you use them makes a big difference to your energy consumption and bills. If you're in the market for a new appliance, consider purchasing an energy-efficient model. Look for the Energy Rating Label to determine how energy efficient it is—the more stars the more energy and money you can save. You can also estimate the running costs of appliances which is particularly useful for products that don't carry the Energy Rating Label to see how much they will cost you each year and over the life of the product. A high star-rated model can cost a little more, but choosing a cheaper less efficient product could end up costing more in the long run.
Landlords may be eligible for a rebate if they need to replace an appliance in your home. Items that may be covered include showerheads, toilets, hot water systems and fridges, so it's worth doing your research to ensure both parties can benefit from the potential savings on purchase price and energy costs.
Heating and cooling
When you consider that around 40% of home energy use goes to heating and cooling, it's not hard to see how making small changes to your air conditioning and heating habits can have a major impact on your energy bills. You could try some of these ideas:
- Controlling your climate. In winter, set your heating thermostat between 18 to 20°C. In summer, set your cooling thermostat between 25 to 27°C. For every 1°C you increase your heating and cooling you increase your energy use by around 5 to 10%. When you've got the air conditioner or heater on, close off the rooms you're not using by shutting internal doors. Once you've found the temperature that you're comfortable with, dress for the season. Perhaps grabbing a warmer jumper or using a throw rug is all you need to avoid turning the thermostat up 1 or 2°C.
- Sealing gaps and cracks. By draught-proofing your home and stopping heated and cooled air leaking out through gaps and cracks, you could cut your energy bill by up to 25%. Try a draught 'snake' to stop air escaping under doors and use weather seals for windows, floorboards, skirting boards, skylights and cornices. You can also stop heat rising into your ceiling by fitting covers over downlights and vents. Check with your landlord before fitting any weather seals or covers.
- Being window wise. Improve window efficiency and prevent heat loss with snug-fitting curtains and blinds that trap a layer of still air next to the window. You can also open curtains in winter to let the sun in during the day and close them before it gets dark. Similarly, it's a good idea to close curtains during the hottest part of the day in summer.
- Installing temporary glazing. You can insulate your windows cheaply with a transparent glazing film. The film helps reduce heat gain and loss. Take a look online for providers and check with your landlord before going ahead.
- Harnessing the breeze. In summer, open up your home in the cooler times of the morning or evening to let the breeze in. Make the most of natural airflow by opening low-positioned windows to bring in the breeze and opening high windows to let the hot air out.
- Choosing the fan over the air conditioner. Ceiling and pedestal fans cost around 2 cents an hour of operation and produce far fewer greenhouse gases than air conditioners. Fans help to circulate air and can be used to improve the effectiveness of air cooling systems as well as to circulate hot air and improve your heating efficiency in winter.
- Minimising artificial lighting. Think about how much artificial lighting you need—a desk or standard lamp will provide more focused reading light and be cheaper to run than lighting the whole room. If it's light outside, you can open the curtains or blinds to let natural light in rather than switching on an artificial light. Switching lights off when you leave the room will also save energy.
- Switching to energy-efficient lighting. Replacing old-style incandescent globes with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) is an effective way to save on energy costs. CFLs use around 20% of the energy of an incandescent light globe and can last between 4 and 10 times longer.
- Using light furnishings and reflective surfaces. You can reduce your need for artificial lighting by decorating with light-coloured furnishings and by placing mirrors across from windows.
Hot water accounts for about a 25% of household energy use. Try these ideas to ensure you're only paying for the energy you need.
- Getting the temperature right. The recommended setting for thermostats is above 60°C on storage hot water systems; or 50°C on instantaneous systems. If you're away for more than a few days, turn off your storage hot water system. When you return, 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. Don't overheat the water as this wastes energy.
- Choosing energy-efficient systems. Landlords considering the replacement of a hot water system may be eligible for a rebate by opting for an energy-efficient system.
Many appliances and gadgets, such as phone chargers, game consoles, microwave ovens and stereos continue to draw power when not in use. This standby power can account for 10% of your household electricity use. Switching appliances and gadgets off at the wall when you're finished with them will cut both your energy use and your bills. If it's got a little light or clock, it's using power. Learn more about standby power modes in our home entertainment and technology guide.
Save energy in the kitchen
It's not just you, your family or your flatmates eating in the kitchen: appliances are big energy guzzlers, but by using appliances wisely you could make some real savings.
- Fridges and freezers. The optimal temperature for your fridge is between 3 and 5°C; or between minus 15 and minus 18°C for your freezer. Every 1°C lower requires 5% more energy. Improve the efficiency of your fridge and freezer by removing any frost build-up in the freezer and leaving a gap of 5–8cm around them for ventilation. If you have a second fridge for entertaining, only turn it on when you need it.
Cook and clean with less energy. Where possible, cook with gas. If you have an electric stove, opt for microwave cooking when suitable. You can also save energy on your kettle and toaster by boiling only as much water as you need and choosing the toaster over the grill when making toast. Wait till you have a full load before running your dishwasher and try scraping your dishes rather than rinsing before loading.
Save energy in the living room
The living room is a hub of electronic gadgetry. Home entertainment products are responsible for at least 5% of household energy use.
- Switching off after use. When you're not using your TV, stereo or game console, switch it off at the wall. Home entertainment products generally have four power modes and can draw power even when not in use. Read our home entertainment and technology guide to learn more.
- Charging up. Once you've charged your phone, tablet or computer, unplug it so it's not drawing unnecessary power and driving up your power bills.
Save energy in the laundry
The way you use your laundry appliances can have a big impact on your bills and the environment.
Washing. Save energy and water by washing in cold water, using the shortest cycle possible, adjusting your water level to suit the size of the load and waiting till you have enough clothes for a full load.
If you have a front loader you can save about 50% on energy costs by washing in cold water.
If you have a top loader you can save about 85% on energy costs by washing in cold water.
- Drying. For every load you dry in an electric dryer uses energy and drives up your bills. By using the clothesline instead just one day a week you'll save around $70 a year.
Save energy in the bedroom
Sleep soundly and save money with these ideas.
- Staying warm naturally. On cold nights sleep with a hot water bottle or extra blanket rather than the heater or an electric blanket. Keep the warm air in by shutting your blinds or curtains.
- Switching off while you sleep. Avoid wasting energy and money on standby power by switching gadgets off at the wall and charging your phone or computer during the day.
Consider green power
'Green power' is electricity generated by renewable sources such as wind, sun or hydro. By switching to GreenPower you elect to get some or all of your energy from accredited renewable sources and pay a slightly higher price per unit. All you need to do is contact your electricity supplier and ask about GreenPower. You can choose the percentage of your electricity sourced from green power: up to 100%. The GreenPower Program sets the rules and ensures your energy comes from government-accredited sources.
Visit GreenPower to learn more about the renewable energy options where you live.
For more tips on ways to save money and power, check out our reduce your energy bills guide.