Using less energy around the home is much easier to achieve than you might think. Tapping into the sun’s warmth and light, making simple design changes, choosing and using your appliances wisely, and changing a few old habits can make all the difference—to your energy bills, your comfort and the environment.

1. Install large windows

Large window

Make the most of the sun’s warmth by installing large windows on the northern side of your house. To stay cool in the summer, install awnings, eaves or blinds that block the high summer sun.

 

2. Insulate your home

Make sure that your home is well insulated. A properly insulated home can be up to 10C warmer in the winter and as much as 7C cooler in the summer.

 

3. Dry your washing outside

Washing line

Whenever the weather permits, use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer to dry your washing. You’ll save money and help cut greenhouse gases by about 3kg for every load of washing.

 

4. Switch off your appliances

Plug socket

One of the simplest ways to save energy is to switch off appliances at the wall when you won’t be using them for a few hours. Keeping appliances on stand-by can account for 10% of a household electricity bill.

 

5. Turn down the heating

If you have central heating and an adjustable thermostat, try turning your heating down a fraction. You may not notice a big difference heat-wise, but you could make big savings: a reduction of 1C can but bills by 10%.

 

6. Fill those gaps

Plug gaps around windows and doors and any other external openings using draught excluders and seals. Draughtproofing can cut household heat loss by up to 25%.

 

7. The key is curtains

You can reduce heat loss by up to one-third in winter by covering windows with heavy, lined, close-fitting curtains and closed pelmet.

 

8. Change the lightbulbs

Compact Fluorescent lamp

Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Though a little more expensive than conventional bulbs, CFLs are much more efficient, creating an equivalent light at a significantly lower wattage—a 25-watt regular bulb. As a result, CFLs can last 10 times as long and use 80% cent less energy.

 

9. Energy-efficient appliances 

Select appliances that are both energy-efficient and the right size for your needs—a 284-litre fridge will use 20% more energy than a 210-litre fridge, even if they both have the same Energy Rating.

 

10. Natural gas or conventional electrcity

If you have a choice between natural gas and conventional electricity, go with gas. Not only is natural gas normally cheaper, it produces one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity from coal-fired power stations.

 

11. Insulate pipes

Make sure that your hot-water tank and pipes are properly insulated. In an average home, heating water accounts for more than one-quarter of the household energy bill. And as much as half of total water-heating costs can be due to heat loss.

 

12. About to change your hot-water system?

AC Heater

Next time you change your hot-water system, consider buying an energy-efficient gas, solar or electric-heat-pump unit. These systems cost more to purchase, but will save you money in the long term, and help reduce greenhouse gases.

 

Top tip: working out how energy-efficient your home is can be simply a matter of taking a close look at your habits, bills, appliances and fittings. Many energy authorities and suppliers provide information and tools that will assist, and some even offer onsite assessments. Alternatively, seek advice from building designers who specialize in sustainability. 

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