Seniors' guide to energy saving
Ways to save
The following free and low cost ideas are a good way to reduce energy use. See our rebates pages to see what assistance may be available. Landlords, renters and homeowners may be eligible for a rebate when replacing an appliance. Assistance also includes free advisory services for purchasing and using energy-efficient appliances.
Heating and cooling
Around 40% of home energy use goes to heating and cooling.
Control your climate. In winter, set your heating between 18 to 20°C. In summer, set your cooling between 25 to 27°C. For every degree you increase heating and cooling you increase energy use between 5 to 10%.
Dress for the season. Consider an extra layer of clothing or a throw rug in winter and dress with 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. Extra bedding is a cheaper way to stay warm overnight rather than keeping the heater on.
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. 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 to trap a layer of air next to the window. Open curtains in winter to let the sun in during the day and close them before it gets dark. Close curtains during the hottest part of the day in summer.
Consider transparent film to insulate windows. It reduces heat gain and loss. If renting check with your landlord or property manager.
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 cost around 2 cents per hour to run, much less than air conditioners, and reduce the temperature by 2 or 3°C. Fans circulate air and can be used to improve the effectiveness of cooling systems.
Use fans to circulate hot air. Using ceiling fans to push the air downwards in winter improves heating efficiency. Where this option exists, the fan or remote control should clearly indicate the winter setting to reverse airflow.
Heating water accounts for about 25% of household energy use.
Get the temperature right. The recommended setting for thermostats is 60°C for storage hot water systems and no more than 50°C on instantaneous systems.
Give your hot water a holiday. If away for more than a week, turning off your storage hot water system saves 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. The water must remain above 60°C for at least 35 minutes before you can safely use it. It could 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 2-person household. These use 40% less water than an inefficient showerhead.
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 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 or the Energy Rating Calculator App 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. The savings 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. Look at both the energy and water efficiency star rating labels on the machine.
Reduce standby power. Many appliances use power when left on, even if not in use. This can account for 10% of household electricity consumption, so switch it off at the power point. If it’s got a light or a clock, it’s using power.
Lighting in homes 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 also reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Use lights efficiently. Use efficient reading lamps rather than lighting a whole room. Switch lights off when you leave the 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.