Energy efficiency in the family home
Top five ways to make a difference to home energy consumption
In winter, the typical Australian household consumes approximately 2700 kWh of energy, which is approximately 7 per cent more than in the warmer months. Consider the benefits of these technologies to lower your carbon footprint:
- Photovoltaic cells (solar panels) capture energy from the sun and with a solar system, your home or business remains connected to the main electricity grid that powers your area. Any electricity that your system generates above what you use is fed back into the grid. When you require more electricity than you are producing, your system imports it from the grid automatically.
- By choosing solar hot water, you can save on your energy bills and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the Australian Government, a solar hot water system can save up to $700 every year off electricity bills.
- Join a green power program. Some programs will match the percentage chosen of your electricity consumption with electricity supplied into the grid from green power accredited renewable sources such as wind or solar. You still receive your electricity in the normal way, but every kilowatt hour of the nominated percentage of green power you purchase will be supplied into the grid from an accredited renewable source.
- When purchasing new appliances, consider the benefits of the latest energy efficient technologies offered by quality manufacturers as well as potential running costs.
- Use your existing appliances wisely and teach your children energy efficient habits including:
- Minimise your heating costs by setting thermostats for heaters and reverse cycle air conditioners no more than 8ºC higher than outside temperatures. Higher settings can increase running costs by up to 10 per cent per degree. Hourly heating costs can vary between seventeen cents per hour for a small heater to well over $1.00 per hour for large ducted models.
- Open blinds during sunny winter days and allow the sun to heat the inside of your home.
- Replace standard light globes with energy efficient globes to cut greenhouse gas emissions and running costs by up to 75% but produce just as much light.
- Many appliances use less electricity when they're doing little or nothing, so don't forget to turn off the TV or computer screen when you've finished using them.
- Install AAA rated shower roses. It may be cold, but using the shower to heat up is not the best solution for you and the environment. Change from a standard 15 litre/minute flow rose to 9 litre flow and you may save more than 450 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions this winter.
Origin's Anne Armansin, a leading expert in energy efficiency, understands the growing financial pressures families face today and recognises that higher energy consumption during winter can add to this burden, not to mention place added pressure on the environment.
"As the colder months approach, households tend to increase their heating usage without considering running costs and the impact this has on their energy bills and the environment. There are simple actions people can take to reduce their energy consumption, save money on their bills and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," Armansin said.
Some Home Safety Tips
We don't need to tell you how important safety in the home is - your life, or the life of someone you love, could depend on it. Your home is also probably the most valuable financial asset you own, so it makes sense to take every precaution when it comes to electricity and gas supply.
After reading these tips you may find that your home requires repairs or alterations to be carried out. If this is the case, ensure that a licensed electrical contractor or registered gas fitter undertakes the work. It is illegal and dangerous for an unqualified person to perform electrical and gas work.
- Check your stored electric blankets before using. Unroll blanket; check plugs, cord and controls for damage including cracks.
- Look for dangerous exposed wiring, kinks in blanket wiring or scorch marks on the blanket. If no faults are noticed, lay the blanket flat on the bed, plug in and turn on and check for 'hot spots'. Do not use faulty electric blankets. If in doubt, take them to a qualified electrician for a safety check or repair.
- Never leave electric blankets turned on when not in use.
- Beware of creating a 'hot spot' by leaving objects on a made bed with the electric blanket turned on.
- Never fold or crease an electric blanket to fit a smaller bed.
- When storing away, roll the blanket to ensure creasing does not damage wiring.
- Have electric blankets tested in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions or at least every three years.
- Before you go on holidays, turn off and unplug your television set (and antenna connection), computer, stereo unit, video recorder, fax and other electronic equipment.
Switches and Power Points
- It is not recommended to overload a power point by 'piggy backing' plugs into one socket or by using double adaptors. Use a power board with an internal overload switch or better still, have an electrical contractor install additional power points.
- When young children are around fit safety plugs into power points that are not being used. These are available at hardware stores and other retail outlets.
- Don't attempt to repair a faulty electrical appliance. Only suitably qualified electricians are permitted to undertake repair work on appliances.
- If the appliance is covered by a warranty contact the manufacturer for details on how to have the appliance repaired.
- When cleaning an appliance, turn it off and unplug it before removing any jammed items such as food or dust. Wipe over with a damp cloth only and never immerse appliances in water unless stated in the manufacturer's instructions.
- To disconnect an appliance always turn the appliance off at its switch and then at the power point. Remove from the power point by the plug, not the cord.
- Before you buy a second-hand electrical appliance, check that it has a dated label stating that it has been tested as electrically safe.
- It's important to clean the lint filter in a clothes dryer after each use, as excess lint is a fire hazard.
- Avoid curtains or towels over cook tops, heaters or lamps since the heat build-up may cause a fire hazard.
- For more home safety tips and ideas to save energy, check out the Energy Institute website.