Do you know how much electricity your home uses each year?
Residential energy consumption in Australia in 2014/2015 increased by around 1.8% to 456 petajoules (PJ). That’s enough energy to run over 395 million fridges for an entire year!
Energy efficiency is top-of-mind for a lot of home owners, but what does energy efficiency REALLY mean? Put simply, it’s using as little energy as possible while lowering the demand for non-renewable resources and the release of greenhouse gas emissions.
Nowadays people want to use less energy to help the environment and save money. However, with the increasing use of electronics using more and more energy, it can be difficult to know how to get started.
With this in mind, we asked around the office to see how the iiTeam get smart at home without straining the budget.
First things first, let’s break the bad habits.
You could be paying around $93 more a year (not to mention contributing to 2.6 million tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions) for everyday household items that aren’t even being used! If you have any lights you leave on all day, every day – start turning them off when you leave the room. For those gadgets you aren’t using, make sure you unplug them completely. Just because they are sleeping, doesn’t mean that LED light and clock aren’t running on energy. You may want to start by turning off these common gadgets: kettle, TV, computer/ laptop, DVD player or game console, and microwave.
Or you can check out an Eco powerboard that has one master socket and slave sockets, such as 6-outlet model from Avico. Alternatively, a multi-switched powerboard will allow you to turn off each item that is plugged into it individually. HPM have a 4-outlet model available.
Do you know how your appliances really work? It may not sound appealing but reading up on the ins and outs of your appliances’ energy consumption can help you get the most out of them while using them less, and that means saving money. A little Google-ing can go a long way!
A light bulb moment
Switch out those incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent ones. They may cost more to start with but you’ll be rolling in the savings since they’ll last you about 12 times longer! Keep in mind that these are best for rooms where you have the lights on for a long time as continually switching the light on and off can shorten their life span. Alternatively, LED lights can save as much energy as fluorescents and can last three times longer, or consider connecting your lights to motion detectors so you can see when you need to.
Soak up those rays
Get the most out of the sun with solar panels and generate some electricity from your home. Installing solar panels will also help you to create a new energy usage pattern as you will need to adapt to using the most energy when you have higher access and prevent having to buy excess from the grid.
Insulate your home
Replacing or increasing insulation in your ceilings and walls, and ensuring doors and windows are properly sealed will prevent those cold drafts from sneaking in. If your home isn’t insulated during the colder months, you could be letting out a lot of the heat – that will not only cost you but is bad for the environment.Some older windows aren’t too good when it comes to energy efficiency. By changing single-pane windows out for double-pane windows and ditching aluminum frames for vinyl frames, you can retain the hot air in your home during winter and cold air during summer. Adding a little tint to double-pane windows will also allow you to keep your blinds open and use natural lighting to keep the savings piling up.
Out with the old, in with the new
Appliances you bought when you first moved out of home in 1999 aren’t made for efficiency. So take a look at the new models on the market and get rid of the clunky, old energy-eaters (this includes those shower heads!).
When it’s time to replace those big appliances such as the washing machine or dryer, take note of the energy rating system. This compares how much energy the appliance will use and yep, you guessed it; rates it against its average energy consumption each year. It’s pretty simple; the more stars there are the higher energy efficiency the appliance has. You can also check out the government’s Energy Made Easy site for an easy to use break down and comparison of retailers out there. Investing in these appliances may cost a bit up front but will be better for your pocket in the long run.
Don’t over work it
Now that you have energy efficient appliances you still don’t want to overuse them. It’s time to start asking yourself, do you really need to turn on the heat or can you grab a jumper? And do you need to blast the air con or can you just grab an ice cold glass of water instead?
Heat it up
Update your old, brick hot water system to a modern, energy-saving system and try to insulate the water lines to prevent the water cooling off while you’re at work.
Now this is where the real fun starts. For those in NSW and VIC, you’ve got a head start. Thanks to smart meters, you can record and monitor your electricity usage to help change those habits. If you have a smart meter but don’t monitor your usage with an app or website, check with your provider to see if they offer similar tools or another solution.
For the rest of Australia, there are still a number of smartphone apps and WiFi gadgets that will help you add some smarts to your home. The Belkin WeMo range is a popular choice for smart lights and switches. The WeMo Insight Switch uses a WiFi-enabled gate to monitor in real-time how much energy the appliance is using from your phone or tablet. You can also control your home remotely just in case you left the iron on and set up some rules so the heater turns off after an hour of usage each time – now that’s pretty smart!
If you’re unsure where to start, try having an energy audit of your home. You can see a list of auditors on the Australian Government page here. It’s also great to note that you can take advantage of tax incentives for energy efficient home improvements!
If you have a great energy saving solution to keep your home smart, share it in the comments.