10 ways to save energy in the home

Since cutting down on the amount of energy used to power your home can save you money and help the environment, it's no wonder that many Australian households are keen to see a drop on their electricity prices.

Australian homes churned their way through 1,014PJ of energy in 2009-10, which is 46GJ per person, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Here are ten changes you can easily make at home to knock back your energy expenditure and your power bills.

Switch off, shut down

Avoid standby power wherever possible, as appliances that are still plugged into the wall suck up power.

Switch them off at the wall and power down everything you're not using at nighttime to see savings on your bill.

Replace your globes

Even something simple such as changing out old inefficient light bulbs for newer, more energy efficient options may help you to reduce your expenditure.

These days you will not need to compromise on the level of light, as the technology has improved in leaps and bounds. If you can get led lights, they are the way to go as they can save you up to 70 per cent of your lighting costs.

Check your thermostat

Adjusting your home's thermostat to account for seasonal changes could save you more than you think.

For every degree you increase this by in winter and cooler in summer, you are adding an additional 10 per cent to the running costs of this appliance.

The most cost effective temperature to have this item running is 18 - 21 degrees Celsius in winter and 24 - 27 degrees in the summer.

Cool it in the kitchen

Adjusting the ways in which you use your kitchen appliances could make a difference when your bills come in.

Make sure your fridge isn't heating up too much - place it away from direct sunlight with good ventilation and avoid putting cooked food straight into it, unless it has been given the chance to cool down.

Set your fridge to run between 3 - 4 degrees Celsius and your freezer to minus 15 - 18 degrees. Every degree lower you run these appliances by will cost you five per cent more to run.

Regularly defrosting your freezer is another way to ensure this appliance is working at optimal efficiency.

Run it on full

Avoid running your dishwasher and washing machine unless they are full as this makes them more efficient to use.

See if you can put them on a lower cycle and temperature, as this will use less power.

When you fill up your dishwasher, try to avoid rinsing plates, and scrape them instead. Most modern machines can handle the extra work.

As far as clothes are concerned, they can usually handle being washed at a cold temperature, which has the added bonus of saving you around 80 - 90 per cent greenhouse gas emissions.

Avoid the clothes dryer

Use sunshine to dry your clothes - it is better for them and will save electricity.

According to the Department of Industry, putting one load in a clothes dryer produces around three kilograms of greenhouse gases.

If you have to use this appliance, make sure you have spun everything properly in the washing machine and only use the dryer for as long as you need to - longer cycles use more power.

Get out the pink batts

Heating and cooling form a large chunk of most household bills. However, installing insulation can see you reduce the amount you're spending in these areas by around 40 per cent, according to the Department of Industry.

Insulation is not just for winter, either. It can help prevent cool air from escaping in the warmer months, which may mean you don't need to rely so much on your air conditioning unit to help keep you cool in summer.

Go solar

Installing a renewable energy source is one way you can reduce your electricity prices. While these units do come with an initial upfront cost, they can save you money on your bills.

Solar power generators are also known as photovoltaic (PV) technology and work by turning the sun's heat into electrical current.

The average Aussie household uses roughly 18 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day so a 1-2kW system could help you save around 25 - 40 per cent of your electricity bill.

Another bonus of this form of electricity is that it will not generate any greenhouse gases.

Be picky about new appliances

Selecting the right appliances for your household can help you reduce your monthly charges, as these power hungry items account for 30 per cent of the average bill.

Energy saving appliances are a more environmentally friendly option, and are fast becoming a popular choice - nearly half of those who purchased new appliances in 2011 said energy star ratings had influenced their purchasing decisions.

Compare electricity suppliers

Doing a simple electricity comparison is a good idea to see if switching to other electricity suppliers could be a cheaper option for your household - you might be surprised by how much you could save!

Posted by Liam Tunney.