Most electronic devices draw a "phantom load" of up to one-third of their operating power. This means that even when your DVD player is in off mode, it can be drawing electricity. This electricity is usually there to allow remote controls to work.
It may not sound like much, but if every electronic device is drawing a little power 24 hours a day this can add up. The best way to get rid of this waste is to get a power board for each area of the house that has a number of different appliances (eg lounge room, kitchen, study and bedrooms). At the end of each evening and when you leave for work in the morning, make a habit of going around and switching off the all the power boards.
Most electronic devices draw a "phantom load" of up to one-third of their operating power. This means that even when your DVD player is in "off" mode, it can be drawing electricity. This electricity is usually there to allow remote controls to work.
It may not sound like much but if every electronic device is drawing a little power 24 hours a day, this can add up. The best way to get rid of this waste is to get a power board for each area of the house that has a number of different appliances (eg lounge room, kitchen, study and bedrooms). At the end of each evening and when you leave for work in the morning, make a habit of going around and switching off the all the power boards.
Whilst drying clothes outside on the line or on a clothes horse would be preferable, wet winter days may mean a clothes dryer is often the only choice in your household.
Lint build-up greatly reduces efficiency and can be a fire danger so ensure that the lint is removed before every use.
Overloading the dryer lengthens drying time. Clothes should dry in 40 minutes to one hour.
Choose a 'perma press' (cool-down) cycle. No heat is supplied in the last few minutes but drying continues as cool air is blown through the tumbling clothes.
Keep the dryer exhaust vent on the outside of the house clean. It should be clear of cobwebs and lint. The moveable shutters should move easily - they're designed to prevent cold air, heat and insects from entering the vent when the dryer is not operating.
Dry multiple loads back to back. Because the dryer takes time and energy to warm up to drying temperature, stop-and-start drying uses more energy.
If you're considering purchasing a new dryer, look for a model that comes with a sensor that automatically stops the dryer when the clothes are dry.
Laptops use about half of the electricity consumed by typical desktop computers. When buying a laptop, look for systems comprised completely of 3.3-volt components (processor, memory and LCD). These systems use 40-50% less energy than 5.0-volt systems and are generally equipped with a lighter battery. Alternatively, look for a model with an Energy Star rating.
Over half of the energy used by a computer goes to the monitor so turning it off when not in use, will save significantly. Ideally, all equipment should be switched off when not in use, even machines on standby use up to 30 watts of electricity.
Inkjet printers have low energy consumption, are inexpensive and permit the re-use of paper, saving costs and reducing environmental impact. If you're buying a laser printer, look for one with an energy-saver feature which reduces energy use when idle by over 65%. Even when idle, laser printers consume between 30% and 35% of their peak power requirements.
Printing can be the most energy-intensive step so only print pages you need. Edit documents on-screen to save unnecessary printing. If you have a choice of printers, avoid using a laser printer for draft-quality printouts.
Re-use paper. Inkjet printers can easily accept used paper so you can print on the unused side. Alternatively, keep discarded pages for scrap paper.
Most dishwashers have several different wash cycle selections. The more options you have, the better you can tailor the energy and water needed for a particular load. Look at the manufacturer’s literature for total water use with different cycles.
There are also some dishwashers on the market which use “soil sensor” technology to automatically adjust water use depending on how dirty the dishes are in each load.
An electric heating element is generally used to dry dishes at the end of the final rinse cycle, consuming about 7% of dishwasher energy use. Most new dishwashers offer an energy-saving no-heat drying feature. At the end of the rinse cycle, if the feature is selected, room air is circulated through the dishwasher by fans rather than using an electric heating element to bake the dishes dry.
Most people pre-rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher even though dishwashers purchased within the last 5–10 years are now specifically designed to clean heavily soiled dishes. If you can't get out of the habit of rinsing dishes first, try to use cold water.
Completely fill the racks to optimise water and energy use but allow proper water circulation for adequate cleaning.
The dishwasher uses the same amount of water whether it’s half-full or completely full so nothing will save more energy than waiting to run your dishwasher. If you find that it takes a day or two to get a full load, use the rinse and hold feature common on newer models. This will prevent build up of dried-on food while saving time and water compared to pre-rinsing each item.
Pay attention to the cycle options on your dishwasher and select the cycle that requires the least amount of energy for the job. Use the no-heat air-dry feature on your dishwasher if it has one.
Heating is expensive, usually accounting for about 30% of a household's annual energy consumption.
In New Zealand we have a choice of using electricity, gas, wood or solar energy to heat our homes. Having a well insulated home is the first step to reducing energy consumption. There are a range of different heaters available, depending on the size of the area and your specific needs.
Heat pumps are one of the most energy efficient forms of heating your home. They work by taking heat from the air outside your home and using it to warm the air inside. Heat pumps are controlled using a thermostat so you can set them to keep your home at the desired level.
They come in various sizes, from single room heaters to ducted whole-house systems. It is important to get a pump that is the right size for the area to be heated.
Although they run on electricity, they collect up to three times more energy than they use. For example, an electric heater will use 1kW of electricity to produce 1kW of heat. A 6-star heat pump will use 1kW of electricity to produce about 5kW of heat.
The initial cost to buy and install a heat pump system can be expensive. However, the long-term savings benefits can be reducing your costs and electricity usage.
When buying any portable heater, look for the following:
- The type of heater appropriate to your circumstances (radiant, convective or a combination). Ask yourself how long you will be operating it for. For immediate heat, you may choose an electric bar radiator but for long term use, a thermostatically controlled heater would usually be cheaper to run.
- A range of heat settings (eg high, medium or low) or preferably a thermostatic control. This allows you to control the output of the heater to an appropriate setting (the lowest comfortable temperature is recommended to minimise running costs). Thermostats can cut running costs by up to 50%. For every 1°C increase in temperature over 20°C, your running costs will increase by 10% to 15%.
- Timers, allowing you to set the heater to come on and off as required. Some heaters have these already installed or they can be bought separately and plugged in at the wall socket.
- Ensure the heater is sized correctly for the area you want to heat and the room’s ability to retain this heat. You should allow approximately 100 watts or 0.5MJ of heat per square metre of floor space (assuming the room has an insulated ceiling and a ceiling height less than 2.7m). The maximum output of portable electric heaters is 2400 watts (2.4kW) therefore, they can usually heat areas up to 24m2.
Remember, if you're using portable heaters for a long period of time, running costs become a concern which is often more important than the initial cost of the unit.
A fully insulated home (ceiling, walls and floors insulated) will almost halve the heating requirements compared to an uninsulated home.
Cold air can infiltrate your home in many ways. It's important to ensure that areas where hot air can escape or cold air can enter are insulated.
Unused fireplaces are often a key area to focus on. Stuff unused chimneys with plastic bags filled with newspaper to avoid unwanted draughts and hot air escaping.
Windows can be a major factor in significant heat loss. Choose curtains which are made from heavy fabric and are lined or thermal backed. Ensure they cover all the windows and avoid gaps between the curtains and the walls. Close curtains before it gets dark to trap warm air that has built up during the day.
Your local hardware store will have a range of draught excluders to stop draughts from under the door making their way into the room.
In uninsulated houses, up to 30% of heat is lost through the ceiling.
A well insulated floor will cut costs by 14% and will prevent moisture from penetrating into the house through gaps in the floor boards.
Gaps as small as 2mm can reduce insulation efforts by up to 50%.
Use cold water when you're filling the kettle and fill the kettle with only as much water as you need. It takes far less energy to heat up a small amount of water than to use water from your hot water system.
Energy efficient light bulbs use 20% of the energy of normal light bulbs, give out the same light and they last much longer.
As your light bulbs blow, replace them with energy efficient bulbs. It's also smart to choose the right sized bulb for a specific use, for example, a 100 watt bulb might be perfect for the kitchen but would be too bright for a bedside lamp.
Paint the walls in your home light colours - dark walls need more power for the same amount of light.
For more information on lighting click here
The refrigerator is the single biggest energy consuming appliance in the home. Fridges older than 10 years use much more power than modern fridges. If you're replacing your fridge, replace it with the most energy efficient one. Look for the Energy Star mark. The more stars in the red band, the less power it will use. If you have a second fridge such as an old beer fridge that you're not using, get rid of it. It's more efficient to run one large fridge than two smaller fridges. You should position the fridge away from the stove or direct sunlight. Set the fridge temperature between 2°C and 5°C and the freezer to -18°C.
The larger the screen, the more energy use you'll be up for. For example, a large (60-inch) flat-screen television can use three times as much power as a standard family-sized (300L) fridge-freezer.
Front load washers are the most energy efficient - they require much less water, hold larger loads and save energy in reduced water heating. The easiest way to save water and energy with washers is to use them less. Look to ways you can reuse clothing, towels and linens between washes.
Match water level and temperature settings on your washer to the size of your load. Don't fill the whole tub for a few items. Newer machines have automatic water level settings which adjust to load size.
As much as 90% of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat the water. For most washing applications, warm wash and cold rinse are just as effective as hot wash and warm rinse. The rinse temperature doesn't effect the quality of the cleaning.
Avoid using too much detergent. Follow instructions on the box. Over-sudsing makes your machine work harder and uses more energy.