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Being more energy-savvy in your home is not only good for the environment, but also for your hip pocket over the long-term. In this article, we provide a list of ways to become more energy-savvy.

Written and accurate as at: 13 Feb 2019

According to a recent report# by the Australian Energy Market Commission, most Australians are expected to see falling electricity prices over the next 2 years; mainly due to decreasing wholesale costs, driven by new generation supply from renewables (wind and solar systems) entering the national electricity market.

Overall, most Australians are expected to pay around $29 less than today by July 2020, with the national average electricity bill expected to fall from $1,367 to $1,338. Despite this, some households are still feeling the pinch now when it comes to their utility bills (i.e. gas and/or electricity).

This is understandable considering the results from the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s Household Expenditure Survey, namely the cumulative effect of all expenditure types on a household’s take-home pay.

With this in mind, we have put together a list of ways to become more energy-savvy in your home moving forward. By following this, you will not only be helping the environment, but also your hip pocket over the long-term. Importantly, this list may also be beneficial to small business owners.

Energy-Savvy Checklist

When it comes to being energy-savvy, shopping around and getting the most appropriate energy contract is important. However, there are other things*^ that you can be doing as well. We have listed only a selection of these things below – some involve minor adjustments, whilst others require bigger outlays. As such, consider what may be appropriate to your personal circumstances (e.g. Budget, homeowner/landlord/renter etc.).

In living areas (the lighting and appliance tips can be applied to most areas of your home)

  • Install energy efficient lighting, such as LED lightbulbs that have the Solid State Lighting (SSL) Quality Scheme Label.
    • When compared to a Halogen lightbulb, a LED lightbulb,
      • Uses lower wattage to give out the same amount of light.
      • Generates less heat, which can help reduce your lighting and air conditioning costs.
      • Lasts 25 times longer (2,000 hours vs. up to 50,000 hours).
    • Turn off lights when not needed, for example, due to natural light.
    • Install photosensors (automatic) or dimmers (manual), which allow adjustment of lighting levels.
    • If you are unable to take advantage of natural light for one reason or another, consider installing a skylight or hybrid light tube to help let in natural light and reduce your reliance on artificial light.
    • ‘Delamp’ (remove a lightbulb) in areas that are too brightly lit, for example, due to natural light.
    • Use task lighting (e.g. lamps), instead of overhead lighting, where applicable (e.g. reading in bed).
    • Switch off appliances (e.g. printers, TV sets, Blu-Ray players, laptops, wireless VOIP routers, speaker docks, etc.) at the wall when they are not in use.
      • Phantom load, also known as standby power, refers to the energy drawn down by an appliance when it’s not in use. According to the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, “Phantom load costs the average household almost $100 per yea”.
    • Buy ‘smart’ energy saving power boards. They detect when your ‘master’ device (e.g. laptop) has been turned off and then shut down power to connected ‘slave’ devices (e.g. printer and WiFi unit).
    • Monitor your energy use via online energy monitoring services offered by most energy providers.
    • Do an audit of your appliances and their energy usage via a plug-in appliance monitor.
    • Buy appliances with the best energy efficiency rating that you can afford. Every extra star can reduce your running costs. For example, every extra star on:
      • An air conditioner can reduce your running costs by up to 10%.
      • A TV set can reduce your running costs by up to 20%.
    • If you have a thermostat, set the heating to between 18°C-21°C for winter and the air conditioning to between 23°C-26°C for summer. For every degree that you raise (winter) or lower (summer) the thermostat, your heating or cooling bills can increase by up to 10%.
    • Turn heating and air conditioning off at night, and don’t heat or cool areas that are not being used or are only used for a short period of time (e.g. toilets, spare rooms etc.).
    • Use ceiling or free-standing fans rather than air conditioners. Depending on the size, fans only cost about 2 cents an hour to run and can use up to 50 times less energy than air conditioning units.
    • Close curtains/blinds at night to guard against cold drafts and open them during the day to let in warming sunlight for summer.

In the kitchen

  • Install a flow regulator or sensor on your taps. A standard tap can use 18 litres of water per minute, whereas a low-flow or aerating tap, you can use 2 litres per minute. This can not only reduce your water usage costs, but also your hot water costs.
    • Also, a dripping tap, left unfixed, can use up to 2,000 litres of water per month.
  • Cover pots/pans to decrease cooking time.
  • Ensure oven seals are not broken and minimise the opening of oven doors when in use. Opening the doors of an oven when it’s in use can lose 4% of the heat.
  • When using a kettle, only boil the amount of water that you’re going to use.
  • Buy appliances with the best energy (and water, where applicable) efficiency rating that you can afford. For example, every extra star on:
    • A fridge and freezer can reduce your running costs by up to 20%.
    • A dishwasher can reduce your running costs by 30%.
  • Allow space for air to circulate around the fridge and freezer (generally at least 50-80mm) and make sure the door seals are intact.
  • Set your fridge at or below 5°C and freezer to between -15°C/-18°C. For every degree colder than these levels, you can increase your running costs by 2-4%.
  • Keep fridges at least 66% full, and freezers at least 75% full to increase efficiency, but don’t overfill them as this can have a reverse effect.
  • Only run the dishwasher when full.

In the bathroom and laundry

  • Lower the water heater thermostat to between 60°C and 65°C.
  • Install a water-efficient showerhead. A standard showerhead can use 15-25 litres of water per minute, whereas a 3-star rated water-efficient showerhead can use 6-7 litres per minute. This can not only reduce your water usage costs, but also your hot water costs.
  • Buy appliances with the best energy (and water, where applicable) efficiency rating that you can afford. For example, every extra star on:
    • A washing machine can reduce your running costs by up to 25%.
    • A clothes dryer can reduce your running costs by up to 15%.
  • Use your washing machine (preferably a front loader) only when you have a full load of clothes and use cold water where possible. Using cold water can reduce your running costs by up to 80%.
  • Instead of a clothes dryer, use airing racks and lines inside to fully or partly dry your washing.

In outdoor areas

  • Install solar lighting in your garden.
  • For internal use, install solar PV and a solar hot water system.
  • Allow room for a washing line, so you can take advantage of sunlight to dry your clothes.
  • Plant deciduous trees outside your windows. Not only will they provide the inside of your home with shade from the hot summer sun, but when they lose their leaves, they will let in sunlight and warmth during winter.

#Australian Energy Market Commission. (2018). Residential Electricity Price Trends Report 21 December 2018.

*Jon Dee. (2015). EnergyCut: The 20 Step Guide to Cutting Energy Bills in Your Business.

^Australian Energy Regulator. (2015). Energy efficiency in the home.