June 15, 2020

Taming the vampires

The Australian Energy Foundation ran a great webinar this week on “Energy Efficiency”. Guess what the top two energy vampires are in the average Aussie home?

  • Heating & cooling your house (40% of electricity usage)
  • Water heating (23%)
  • Home appliances such as TV and computers (14%). 

The good news is that a few simple behavioural changes can already save you money and reduce your emissions. And won’t cost you a cent. 

Top tips:

  1. In winter, set your heating to a maximum of 18-20 degrees. Every degree more increases your energy usage by 10%. Fun Fact: As it gets colder going from summer into winter, our blood thickens and we can better tolerate the cold. So maybe start with 21 degrees and work your way down to 18 degrees by August. 
  2. Heat the person, not the house. Think double layers, warm socks, boots (ugg boots working from home!). And you may even want to invest in some low-cost electric blankets or heat pads. 
  3. Use less hot water by limiting your showers to 4 minutes. Yes, eventually you will convince your teenagers that this is important. Or at least install water-efficient showerheads that reduce the flow of water from 12-15 litres/minute to 6-9 litres.
  4. Use the cold-setting on your washing machine. Modern machines will do a great job.
  5. Switch off all your appliances at the powerpoint when not in use. Too time-consuming? Invest in power strips (plug in several appliances) and a remote control to switch them all off at once when you call it a night. 
  6. Make sure your fridge and freezer are running at the optimal temperature: 3 to 4 degrees and -15 to -18 respectively.
  7. Use smaller appliances in the kitchen. For example, heat up food in the microwave rather than turning on the energy-hungry oven.  

These are the lowest hanging fruit in the energy efficiency world. If you want to bring out the big guns to reduce your energy consumption, the Australian Energy Foundation website has info about best practice for heating & cooling (split air con) and hot water (heat pump).  Both require an initial investment and are best considered when you have to replace an existing system or are renovating or building from scratch.  

You can view a recording of the AEF webinar or check out the presentation. Both are available online until 30 June.

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