10 steps to energy efficiency at home

Fridges, hot water, home entertainment and those all-important heating and cooling systems. They’re an essential part of day-to-day life, but they don’t do much to keep your energy bills at bay. Work your way through these tips and see how you could improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Switch hot washes for a cool cycle

Hot water can put the heat on your laundry’s energy costs – even when most clothes are cool with a cold water wash. Not only can washing cold cycle extend the life of some fabrics, it reduces your energy use, too.

Don’t overload the dryer

Clothes dryers are one of the biggest home energy drainers – but don’t try to save on energy by filling them to the brim. Leave about a quarter of your dryer’s barrel empty and you should find the heat can circulate more freely to help your clothes dry faster. Better still, use the free solar and wind clothes dryer – the clothes line!

Try different methods of cooking

Think about a lasagne. There’s often a lot of energy-intensive elements involved in getting it on the table: defrosting meat in the microwave, boiling pasta on the stove, baking it all in the oven. Make sure you’re not making your appliances work harder than they should by defrosting food overnight in the fridge, checking that pot lids fit snugly and making sure that the seals on the oven door are keeping in the heat.

Understand the cost of standby

Many appliances burn through electricity just because they’re plugged in and can end up accounting for up to 10 per cent of your household energy usage. While it might be too much of a hassle to get behind your washing machine to turn it on and off, or reprogram your microwave every time you want to use it, there are some quick wins. Things like device chargers and lamps that often sit in “stand by” mode can be transferred into multi-plug power points, which can be easily unplugged when not in use. Better still, invest in a standby powerboard, which turns devices off when not in use but doesn’t lose the settings.

Switch out old lightbulbs

Replace any standard incandescent and halogen light bulbs with LED globes and the initial outlay for more energy efficient lighting could quickly pay for itself as the wattage is significantly lower but the luminance the same or better for LEDs … Only lighting the spaces you’re using is a great way to use less power.

Substitute your shower head

Heating water in your home takes a lot of energy – in fact it can use up to a quarter of your home’s power usage. By installing a water-efficient shower head, you could slash the amount of water your system uses, saving on both your water and water heating bills.

Think about the energy you’re using – and losing

Up to 25% of household heat loss can be caused by air draughts from improper seals. Close doors, seal cracks around windowsills and skirting boards and rest draught blockers along the bottom of your doorframes, and you’ll help your air conditioner and heater hit the right temperature sooner. Being able to heat only the areas the family uses most can also help reduce energy use.

Consider your garden design

Don’t underestimate the power of green energy. Surrounding your home with deciduous plants can work wonders when it comes to reducing your energy usage. Plant strategically and vegetation can help to shelter your home from the sun’s heat during summer, but let its warmth in during the cold of winter.

Get smart with new technology

Home automation is effectively the modern day timer. By investing in the likes of smart lights, plugs and thermostats, you can adjust your home appliances remotely, as and when you need them. It means if you forgot to switch the lights off before you left the house, or you’re going to be late home from work so want to delay the air con coming on, you can do it quickly and remotely.

Get visibility on hidden wastage

Beyond minimising your energy wastage at home, the next step to being a conscious consumer is to consider the energy wastage in the things we buy. Eating processed foods, which often involve energy-intensive production processes, or buying products that are flown half way around the world, uses an enormous amount of energy that we just don’t see. Instead, think about shopping locally (both in terms of the distance and items you’re buying).

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Want to learn where your energy is going?

Our Energy Insights service provides an estimated breakdown of your electricity use by appliance category, with tips to help you take control. AGL electricity customers in Victoria with a residential smart meter on e-billing will automatically receive the report after their bill. The service should be available to AGL's smart meter customers in NSW, SA and QLD by late 2018.

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