Here is a collection of tips to save energy around the home. You will also find links to information on government rebates and web-based energy calculators. Should you wish to explore further, the page finishes with links to a local sustainability site, another in Sydney, and one to Arizona State University's Global Institue of Sustainability
Standby Power usageIn the average home, appliances account for about 20% of energy use. Up to 75% of this is consumed while the products are in "standby" mode. Fixing this could cut your power usage by up to 15%
For seldom used products, unplug them, or turn them off at the power point, when not in use. This includes phone chargers.
For a group of often used appliances, plug them into a power board, then turn the whole board off when not in use.
For convenience, you can get a power board that senses the current drawn in the master socket. Turning off a computer plugged into this socket will power off the rest of the sockets for you, so the printer, speakers etc shut down too. These are available from major retailers - see the distributor's page for more details.
Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while.
Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers.
Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
LightingUse compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in place of comparable incandescent bulbs to save about 50% on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
Turn your lights off when you leave a room. Standard, incandescent light bulbs should be turned off whenever they are not needed. Fluorescent lights should be turned off whenever you'll be away for 15 minutes or more.
Connect your outdoor lights to a timer.
Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and counter-tops under cabinets.
Use dimmers, motion sensors, or occupancy sensors to automatically turn on or off lighting as needed and prevent energy waste.
Cooling / HeatingRaise the temperature on your air conditioner by a few degrees and reduce your power bill and carbon pollution impact.
Clean or replace air filters on your air conditioning unit at least once a month.
Only heat or cool the rooms you need. Close vents and doors of unused rooms.
Fans are a great way to get cool, and they use less power than air conditioners. Remember, fans cool people, not air, so turn them off when you are not in the room.
Reverse your indoor ceiling fans for summer and winter operations as recommended.
If you’re in a house and want to go big, consider a whole house fan. These powerful units suck air up out of the house and out through the roof or attic, and can be installed strategically- above a staircase, for instance- with incredible results. Open the windows first thing in the morning before it gets hot, switch on the whole house fan for a mere half hour, and flush the whole house out with cool, fresh air. Repeat in the evening after outdoor temps have dropped.
Use vertical external blinds, sail cloths, pergolas or plants and trees to keep summer sun off the windows. Give outside air conditioning units the same treatment.
Use light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy.
Use heavier curtains to control when you want heat to enter the house.
Decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.
Insulate your home as best as you can. A home that is not insulated can lose up to 35% of heat from the ceiling, up to 25% through walls and up to 20% through floors.
Use draught seals and weather strips around doors and windows, or at least place rolled up towels or draft stoppers at the base of all outside doors during the winter.
Double glaze your windows to reduce window heat losses by 40 to 60 per cent.
Dress appropriately for the weather. On winter nights, put an extra blanket on the bed.
White or light-colored roofs collect a lot less heat than the dark ones.
Hot WaterLower the temperature on your water heater so that you are not having to add cold water to shower.
Install low flow showerheads and sink aerators to reduce hot water use.
Turn down or shut off your water heater when you will be away for extended periods.
To save hot water, take five-minute showers instead of baths.
When replacing an electric hot water service install a high efficiency gas or solar hot water system.
Insulate any exposed hot water pipes.
KitchenWhen using an oven, minimize door opening while it is in use.
Cooking with gas is cheaper than electricity.
Use a microwave whenever you can instead of a conventional oven or stove.
Use the energy star rating label to find the most efficient appliances. A 4-star dishwasher for 14 place settings has an energy cost of $38 to $56 per year per year, but a 1-star model for just 12 place settings has an energy cost of $850 to $970 per year.
Do only full loads when using the dishwasher.
Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
Every time you open the refrigerator or freezer door, precious cold air flows out. Clear #1 plastic (PET) bottles filled with clean water added to unused spaces will act as a cool store, minimising these losses. If the power goes off for an extended time, some of the frozen bottles can be moved to the fridge to keep it cool for longer. These bottles can survive freezing many times as long as you leave a bit of air in them when adding the water.
Don't wash dishes with the water running continuously.
When filling your kettle use the minimum amount of cold water needed.
Keep your fridges and freezers clean and well ventilated.
Make sure the door seals are in good condition.
If your fridge has an exposed cooling fins at the back, vacuum these out at least once per year to reduce running time.
LaundryWash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
Using cold water instead of hot water to wash your clothes you will save up to 3.5 kilograms of greenhouse gases per wash (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007).
Use the energy star rating label to find the most efficient appliances. A 4-star family washing machine has a yearly running cost of $30 to $50 for the energy used, but a 1-star model will cost $50 to $120.
Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks - clothes dryers can generate more than 3 kilograms of greenhouse gases per load (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007).
If you do need to use your clothes dryer, you could hang your clothes on a rack to dry before finishing them off in the dryer.
Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load to use less energy and reduce the risk of fire.
Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.
Install a dryer vent seal to reduce cold air from backing into the home when the dryer is not in use.
AcknowledgementsThese tips have been gleaned from the following government, energy supplier, and private websites.
RebatesSummary of State rebates by Alternative Technology Association (not-for-profit organisation)
Feed-in tariffs for Solar Energy compared across states(Commercial site)
Energy CalculatorsSynergy - Flash-based
Integral Energy - Flash-based
QLD govt - Form based
Together Today website
The website places at your fingertips changes you can make around the home, be they big or small, that will save energy and water. It will also give you all the latest information on government rebates to help you save money whilst making a positive change for the environment.
Together Today is an agency of change focussed on providing the people of the Hunter with simple and practical information on how to take environmental action.
The website contains interractive tips, links to Government rebates plus an Eco directory, listing local companies that embrace the Together Today ethos.
Tom Farrell Institure director, Tim Roberts is also on the board of Together-Today, helping to further the aims of the institute.
Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University
The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of Arizona State University's sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs focused on finding practical solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges.
Quoting from their Laeadership Directorate Welcome Message ...
Sustainability is often confused with the environmental movement, but at Arizona State University the concept is much broader than that. Sustainability is a fundamental principle that underlies ASU's learning, research, partnering, and business operations. We have set an ambitious agenda to become a world leader among universities in finding and sharing sustainable solutions for a rapidly urbanizing planet.
Willoughby City Council's Climate Clever information
Willoughby City Council has launched ClimateClever, a comprehensive education campaign that aims to assist Willoughby residents, businesses and schools reduce their carbon footprint through a range of engaging programs, workshops and activities designed to increase community skills and knowledge of climate change actions.
Willoughby City Council's Climate shop
ClimateClever Shop is a joint initiative of Willoughby, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Kuringai and Hunter's Hill councils. They have done the research for you and selected a range of preferred suppliers of efficient and quality solar power systems, solar hot water systems, heat pump hot water systems and rainwater tanks to save you time, stress and money
Information collated and published by TFI Silvers volunteer, Bill Collison: email