Energy saving tips
Making a positive impact on the environment doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some simple tips and tricks that might help. We also encourage our customers to help each other. If you’ve come across a novel idea about how to save energy, please let us know and we will post it on our site so we can share that knowledge.
Simple Energy Saving Tips
Check the Star Rating
When looking for a new appliance, don’t just check the price tag. Often the savings are offset by higher running costs, especially when you calculate the running costs over the lifetime of the appliance. Keep an eye on the number of stars or energy rating. This rating tells you how efficient the appliance will be and gives you an idea of how many (kWh) kilowatt-hours the appliance will use in one year according to Australian Standards. For example a “4 star” large family sized fridge (about 430 Litres) might use about 370Kwh per annum, where as a 1.5 star fridge of the same size might use about 590. That’s a 60% difference.
A Good Clean
One of the cheapest and easiest things you can do to save energy on your heating and cooling is give your air conditioner filter a good clean. Most filters have a clip that pops out and so it’s easy to do. A clean filter can make your air con run up to 12 percent more efficiently. Ducted systems are similar in that the “return” vent usually has a cleanable filter.
Shade your home. Have a look at your home and notice the way the summer sun travels during the course of the day. You might find a particular window, wall or section of your house that is taking the brunt of the heat. The fix could be as easy as planting a few trees, or installing a shade cloth. If you can’t control the outside shade, then don’t worry. Using curtains and blinds can be just as effective. You can also use some of the many glass tinting options available on the market, some of which can cut heat transfer significantly while still bringing in natural light.
Keep your home at a reasonable temperature. It takes a lot of energy to change the temperature in a house by just one degree. By adjusting your thermostat by just a couple of degrees you can save hundreds off your heating and cooling costs. For example; in the winter time keep your heat set at say 18 or 19 degrees instead of over 20. In summer set the cooling to say 23 or 24.
If you have a programmable timer, you can automatically switch off the heater when you’re not home or at night. A programmable thermostat can usually be retrofitted to replace older thermostat controls and can be a cheap way of modernising an existing system.
The Right Size
Buying an energy-efficient air-conditioner will definitely help, but size is also an important factor when it comes to efficiency. It’s important that the unit you purchase is the right size for the space you are trying to cool. If your unit is too big, then it will not remove humidity effectively, and your space will be cool, but damp and clammy. If the unit is too small, it will struggle to keep your place cool, never really cycling-off, and over-drying your air.
Changing the temperature of the air inside your entire house requires a lot of energy. So it’s important that your ducted air conditioning is running efficiently. A small leak or a neglected air ducts can really ramp up the running costs. Regular servicing is important to keeps the system maintained.
Understand your Ducted System
Ducted air conditioning is great, but it can be counter intuitive. Many people believe that closing air-condition vents in unused rooms would save energy. However, closing vents can sometimes put backpressure on the fan that pushes the air through the system, causing it to work harder, use more energy and wear out faster. Understanding how the system works is important, ask your service person for their advice.
Insulation has been getting a bit of negative press in the last few years, but in actual fact it is still regarded as the most efficient way of reducing the amount of energy needed to keep your home at a comfortable level. There are many professional installers that can retro fit insulation to an existing home.
How much hot water?
If your home uses a standard electric hot water service then chances are a large portion of your energy bill will probably be as a result of heating water. The average electric hot water system produces over 3.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year. So try tweaking how you use your hot water and enjoy some noticeable changes to your electricity bill. Turn the thermostat down by a few degrees if it’s safe to do so and don’t forget to switch the system off when you go away for a few days. Wash your clothes on cold water cycle. Cut your shower time down by a few minutes; most of us spend longer than we need to, if you can’t, at least switch to a water-saver shower-head. These are cheap, available from most hardware shops, and are usually very easy to install even for the DIY newbie.
Replace old fashioned light globes with modern LED light bulbs. Light–Emitting-Diodes are way more efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent globes. The price of LED has fallen over the last few years. A trip to the DIY store and a few minutes work can knock a noticeable lump off your energy bill.
Switch it off at the power point
Standby Power is draining electricity silently and un-noticed. Did you know that “standby power” can add up to 10% of a typical Australian house’s electricity use? It’s just a matter of changing your habit, for example; instead of powering off the TV using the remote, switch it off manually. The same goes for small things like stereos, gaming consoles and anything that’s drawing power by just sitting there idle and costing you money. If you switch it off at the plug you will notice your bills getting smaller.
The (almost) A to Z of saving on your gas bill
Gas bills go up in winter. That’s just a fact of life, because most households use more gas in the colder months, particularly heating water and rooms.
It’s one of the reasons we recommend bill smoothing: paying a little more than the bill in the warmer months so that the difference between the ‘peak’ season bills of the winter months and those of the rest of the year isn’t as great. Meanwhile, we always suggest you use only as much energy as you need, because wasting gas costs money, and there are far more fun things to spend your dollars on. Depending on the size and configuration of your home, including the number of people who share it, you can make some simple adjustments for relatively low cost and small changes to your lifestyle.
Here are 20 hints … in alphabetical order (for no particular reason):
Adjust your thermostat
If you run your heating centrally, dial down your thermostat by a couple of degrees for the bulk of the time, even if you want it to start off pumping out slightly more heat first thing on a cold morning.
Buy more efficient appliances
When it’s time to upgrade an appliance, choose one with a higher water efficiency rating. Check the star rating, which estimates how much water the appliance uses.
Clean your vents and filters
If your vents or filters are dirty or blocked, you’re making your heating work far too hard to push through. An annual clean about this time of year will work wonders for the efficiency of your system.
Draught proof door gaps
Gaps around doors and windows – and vents, exhaust fans, and even pipes – are really money leaks. Not only does warm air get out, but cold air can leak in and force you to turn up the heat.
Ease the water temp back
Hot water systems are often set to pump out near-scalding water, which you can’t use without mixing in some cold. So, ease that setting back to 50 degrees, rather than 60.
Find some sun
Even in winter, the sun can offer some free warmth, so open the curtains and let the natural heating stream in when it’s available. Just make sure you close the cold out when the sun’s not around.
Get some professional help
There are companies that specialise in energy efficiency, including identifying and plugging any draughts or leaks. If you’re spending money heating your air, make sure you’re getting full value!
Head for shower efficiency
Shorter showers might be more easily said than done, however, installing a low-flow showerhead will mean you can take a shower just as long as you’ve been used to while using far less hot water.
Improve your insulation
One of the biggest wasters of heat and, therefore, money, is poor insulation. What’s the point of heating the air inside your house, only to let it steadily escape? You just have to heat more and more.
Keep some doors closed
Those little-used rooms, such as the laundry, spare rooms, playrooms, and the like, don’t need to be heated all the time. Close those internal doors and you stop heating spaces nobody is using.
Maintain your system
Have your heating system serviced to ensure it’s running as efficiently as it’s meant to. Imagine if a few simple tweaks could make, say, a 10 per cent saving on your bills …
No more preheating your oven
Consider if preheating is necessary depending on what you’re cooking. It used to be more important but these days most gas ovens reach cooking temperature quite quickly. Not to mention opening the door of a preheated oven to put the food in is another waste.
Optimise your cooktop
Making sure pot lids fit tightly when boiling water and using round-bottom pans, which let the flame heat more effectively, are a couple of simple stove-top gas-saving hints.
Put some clothes on!
If it’s winter, dress for the season. You might be much cosier wearing fleecy tracksuit pants, fluffy socks, and warm hoodies or jumpers!
Replace your thermostat
If you have a manual thermostat, consider installing a smart thermostat, which you can program to automatically maintain optimal efficiency while it monitors your habits to make even more tweaks.
Switch your hot water system
While this isn’t an every-year thing, if your hot water system is a bit old, you might find an on-demand (or instantaneous) gas hot water system to be a more cost and gas-efficient option for your needs.
Take fewer baths
A lovely, hot bath might be incredibly relaxing, but when there’s a bit of pressure on your gas usage, pouring all that extra hot water out of your taps might be something you can readily ‘ration’.
Use fewer rooms
If you’re heating an entire house, do you really need to? No-one’s in those bedrooms all day and at night they’re under the doona. If you have a dining room, don’t heat it and eat in the lounge. If you have a ducted system, consider closing the vents so the heat doesn’t go to waste.
Vary your dishwasher setting
Many dishwashers have an economy mode that washes your dishes at a lower temperature. Meanwhile, make sure to only turn the dishwasher on when it’s full.
Wash full loads
Sometimes it’s easier to do your washing regularly, rather than when you have enough for a full load, but changing that habit will mean fewer washes, greater efficiency, and less hot water usage.