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10 steps to energy efficiency at home

While split systems or swimming pools are splurges that can help you enjoy the seasons, they won’t do much to keep your energy bills at bay.

Fridges, hot water, home entertainment and those all-important heating and cooling systems: they’re an essential part of 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 clean with a cold water wash. Not only can washing cold cycle extend the life of some fabrics, but it also 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 yet, use your clothesline or a clothes horse and take advantage of the sun and cool breeze when possible.

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% 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 standby mode can be transferred into multi-plug power points, which can be easily unplugged when not in use. You could even invest in a standby powerboard, which turns devices off when they’re not in use but doesn’t lose the settings.

Switch to energy-efficient 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. The wattage for LEDs is significantly lower, yet the luminance is the same or better than other globes. Another quick and easy way to use less power is to only light the spaces you’re using.

Substitute your old 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 showerhead, 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. By closing doors, sealing cracks around windowsills and skirting boards, and placing draught blockers along the bottom of your door frames, you’ll help your air conditioner and heater hit the right temperature sooner. Only heating and cooling 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, as vegetation can help to shelter your home from the sun’s heat during summer and let the warmth in during 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 when you need them. This means if you forgot to switch the lights off before you left the house, or you’re going to be late home from work but want to want to turn the air-con 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 impact of the everyday things we buy.

Eating processed foods – which often involve energy-intensive production processes – or buying products that are flown halfway around the world use 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).

Do you want to save more on your home energy bill?

Our online, interactive Energy Coach tool can help. All you need to do is complete a couple of short questions and get your personalised results.

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