Energy saving tips for your home

| September 27, 2019

The energy market has been harsh to customers over the last decade. The price of electricity has risen, to the point that it became the primary cost of living concern for many homeowners.

While energy retailers invest heavily in marketing and promotional offers, they are often too complicated to decipher for an average user. Rather than wait for the energy market to sort itself out, you can cut your bills yourself – and do your bit to help the planet – through adopting some of these energy saving tips.  Whatever you do though, make sure your electrical appliances are safe and get them checked by a qualified electrician.

Get smarter

Since heating and cooling your home can be the two most energy intensive activities, invest in a smart thermostat which can regulate the temperature automatically.  These smart gadgets can learn your heating preferences, so instead of maintaining a pre-set temperature at pre-set times, they learn your habits and preferences, and self-adjust accordingly.

They can even be adjusted through a smartphone app while you’re not at home, allowing heating or air conditioning to be turned off when they’re not needed.

Choose the right appliances

While you should always check the Energy Star rating of a new appliance, more stars don’t always mean lower energy consumption. Larger appliances tend to be more efficient than smaller ones, but since they operate with bigger loads, their overall consumption can be higher.

Despite their higher price, front-loading washing machines are considered more environmentally-friendly than top-loaders, as they use less power, water and detergent.  Scale the size of new appliances to your needs, rather than your decor, and you could well save money in the long run.

Your fridge and freezer work 24/7 and the energy they consume can mount quickly.  Look for models that use butane or pentane as their refrigerant and don’t fall for the CFC-free label, as all new fridges on the market are now required to be CFC-free.  If you have an old fridge or freezer to dispose of, you must do so responsibly, due to the ozone destroying gas which obsolete models may contain.

Use more efficient bulbs

Apart from encouraging obvious habits like turning off the lights in rooms that aren’t occupied, there are many things we can do to lower the environmental impact of our lighting. Environmentally-aware countries are increasingly banning traditional incandescent bulbs, replacing them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs which offer an 80% energy saving, with a tenfold lifespan.

While anyone can change a light bulb, don’t risk injury or worse by rewiring your home if you aren’t properly qualified.  Use an experienced electrician for the installation of additional LED lighting fixtures, both indoors and outdoors.

Dimmer switches are also great power-saving devices, as they lower the amperage used by reducing light intensity when full brightness isn’t necessary. When running on reduced intensity, bulbs last longer, so having some of them dimmed makes sense from the economic aspect, as well.  Most of the wear on a traditional light bulb happens in the rapid heating and cooling of the element when it’s turned on or off entirely.

Turn off vs. standby

Some appliances such as televisions can use up to 30% of the energy they use while on just sitting on standby. Anything with that inconspicuous little red LED will be sucking power all day and night without you even realizing. If you have a lot of gadgets and appliances plugged in, this vampiric power toll adds up quickly.

Every TV once had a simple on and off switch, which fully disconnected from the grid. Now, instead of a mains switch, many devices use an electronic push-button that only controls whether the device is powered up or in standby. Unplugging the device at the wall outlet or power strip is the only way to ensure that no energy is wasted in standby mode.

Improve heating and cooling

Insulating your roof or ceiling will help you maintain a pleasant temperature in summer and winter with minimal HVAC workloads, and home insulation quickly pays for itself through reduced energy bills. You should also reduce drafts by sealing windows and doors. You can find draught excluders or windows seals cheaply in any hardware store.

If you have a decorative fireplace that isn’t in use, consider sealing the chimney with a damper to prevent heat from escaping in the winter or fruitlessly air conditioning your whole city in summer.  Turning on your air conditioner early can help combat hot days in summer, but passive cooling solutions and better house design can reduce heat stress without the expense – and noise – of air conditioning.

Monitor your energy use

Energy monitors which keep track of the running costs for any appliance have become widely available, and you can pick them up in any electrical or DIY store.  Plugging the monitor into the wall outlet and attaching the appliance allows you to read the power drawn by the appliance, the time it has run, and its energy use in kW/h. These monitors can tell you which appliances are your biggest energy hogs, so you can plan your reduction strategy accordingly.

With the rising cost of energy, reducing unnecessary wastage at home is simply common sense, but if multiplied across every household, can also significantly reduce domestic energy consumption.  All the more reason to pack a double punch and reduce waste where you can around your home.