Handy hints and tips to save dollars and live more sustainably

There are many simple changes you can make in and around the home to reduce your energy consumption and live more sustainably. Below are some handy hints and interesting facts about saving energy at home, which will benefit the environment and your hip pocket. Doing the right thing and reducing energy consumption makes sense for everyone.

Living area

  • Insulate your walls and ceilings. This can save 20-30% of home heating and cooling bills.
  • Use light-coloured paint on your walls to reduce electricity needed for lighting.
  • Painting your ceilings with light colours reflects light downward, making the room more efficient so you can use lower-wattage lighting.
  • Reductions in energy use from shade trees and appropriate light-coloured paint can save up to 2.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
  • Curtains and blinds provide insulation to keep winter heat in and summer heat out. Change the way your windows are shaded both inside and out and you can keep your home cooler by more than 70% in summer.
  • Cooling cross-ventilation can be provided by windows/doors on opposite walls.
  • Fans use a fraction of the electricity of the most efficient air-conditioner.
  • When purchasing new appliances, ensure they are energy and water efficient with a five-star rating for maximum efficiency.
  • Install LED lights for maximum energy efficiency and dollar savings, or compact fluorescent lights if preferred.
  • Install light sensors where appropriate to ensure lights are off when not required.
  • Turn electrical devices off at the switch for energy savings up to 10%.
  • Turn off computer screen savers and install stand-by mode.
  • If your fridge is more than 20 years old, replace it with an efficient model to reduce your refrigeration cost by 60% and save approximately 1.4 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • Ensure your fridge is placed in a well-ventilated position to reduce heating.
  • Ensure your fridge seals are in good working order.
  • Set the fridge thermostat to between 3 and 5 degrees for safe energy efficiency.
  • Use the dishwasher only when full.

Laundry/bathroom tips

  • A standard showerhead uses about 15-25 litres of water per minute. A three-star rated water efficient showerhead uses as little as six or seven litres per minute. This will saver around 14,500 litres per household each year. You could reduce your gas hot water costs by around 47% by using a water efficient showerhead.
  • A shower uses about 30-80 litres of water while a bath uses 150-200 litres. Limit baths and take short showers of five minutes or less.
  • Old-style toilets use up to 12 litres of water per flush. Dual flush toilets average less than four litres, saving around 51 litres per person per day, or 30,000 to 40,000 litres per household per year.
  • Typical taps discharge 15 to 18 litres of water per minute. Low-flow and aerating models use as little as two litres per minute.
  • Ensure only full loads go in the washing machine and only wash in cold water.
  • Front-loading washing machines use up to 70% less water.
  • Wind-dry clothes to eliminate drying costs.
  • If replacing a dryer, get one with a moisture sensor, which shuts off the dryer automatically when your clothes are dry, cutting energy use by about 15%.
  • Wash laundry in cold water to save electricity used for heating water.

Outdoor/roofing

  • Add window tinting to decrease cooling costs.
  • Double-glaze windows to minimise heat entering the house in summer and leaving the house in winter, decreasing heating and cooling costs.
  • Plant deciduous fruit trees to shade living area windows in summer and allow sun in winter, and to provide fresh nutritious fruit.
  • During summer, the space between your ceiling and roof can reach 50-60 degrees Celsius. Also known as whirligigs, roof turbines are lightweight spinning vents that suck hot air out from your roof cavity, reducing the need for cooling.
  • Up to 12 litres of moisture can accumulate in your roof cavity daily from bathrooms, laundries and kitchens, reducing effectiveness of insulation by making it damp. A whirligig can help reduce moisture build-up, making insulation more effective, reducing heating and cooling costs and protecting timber frames.
  • Install solar panels to increase renewable energy use.
  • In NSW, approximately 65-80% of your hot water will be free of charge if you install a solar hot water system, and you will save an average of 2-3 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.
  • Correctly angled eaves will allow the winter sunshine in and keep summer sun out.
  • A light-coloured roof will decrease heat gain, reducing cooling costs by an average of 23%.
  • Cooler air from lush gardens planted close to the house can be drawn through windows.

From planting native trees instead of exotic plants to installing grey water systems, there are many ways to make your home and lifestyle more efficient. For more information visit Sustainable Households.