Making your home energy efficient can cut down on your overall power use and make it a more comfortable and healthier place to live. The greatest energy savers include insulation and double glazing but, as they take a bit of money and time to plan properly, they don't often get done.
Good quality insulation helps keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer, making it easier and cheaper to heat properly. Start with the ceiling, followed by underfloor and walls. Without doing major structural renovations for thermal efficiency, installing thermal-backed curtains is possibly one of the best ways to save energy in the winter time. It also pays to use draft seal around windows and doors to stop cold air getting in and warm air escaping.
Hot water heating accounts for around a third of your energy use and costs the average household about $650 a year. You may be using more energy than you need to heat your water. It is important that the cylinder’s thermostat is set correctly. It should be 60°C at the cylinder (to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria) and a maximum of 55°C at the tap so you don't get burnt (children are particularly vulnerable). An extra 10°C on the thermostat could be costing you another $25 per year with a modern cylinder, or twice that with an older one.
It's much harder to heat damp air, so get rid of moisture in your home, especially when you're cooking and washing. Drying your clothes outside is a good way to save money on power. Install extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom and open windows to improve ventilation.
Halogen and / or incandescent bulbs use up five times more energy than new LED bulbs. Replacing a 100W incandescent bulb with a 14W LED of equivalent light output, could save you $24 per year. LED bulbs are also expected to last 15 years, or more, before they need to be replaced, saving you up to $360 per bulb. If replacing your halogen and / or incandescent bulbs, start with the bulbs that are used most often.
Buy appliances based on their quality, features and energy rating - the more stars on the label, the more energy efficient the appliance is - and annual energy consumption (kWh per year). It also helps to read user feedback on features and quality. Modern fridges and freezers are much more energy efficient than models made 10 years ago. A modern family fridge/freezer with a 3½ star Energy Star rating label costs around $100 per year to run. A 10-year-old fridge, of the same size, could cost twice as much. Normally, it is recommended you use the cold water setting on washing machines to save energy. However, if your hot water cylinder is powered by solar, you've got the advantage of being able to use heated water for washing during the daytime without extra cost. So, look out for washing machines and dishwashers that can take a hot water input of up to 60 deg C. Inductive hobs in the kitchen may also be worth investigating.
The efficiency of televisions has improved with the use of LED technology. A new Energy Star rated LED television can use up to 45% less energy compared to an older, unrated model. In addition, Energy Star rated televisions use less than 1W of power on standby, much less than older models.
Ensure you turn off appliances at the wall, rather than leaving them on standby mode. It may sound simple, but it's often overlooked.