1. Heating and Cooling
Run the air-conditioning a little warmer in summer and a little cooler in winter. It will make a big difference. Air conditioners’ efficiency drops dramatically once the temperature difference between the inside of your home and the air outside is greater than eight degrees. An increase of the air conditioning temperature setpoint of just one or two degrees in summer, and a similar decrease in winter, will make a significant difference to the air conditioners’ energy consumption.
2. Swimming Pools
Pools use about 40% of the total household electricity in an average home. Most pools run high-power pumps from time clocks that do the same thing every day, irrespective of use or environment. Sensors and intelligent automation can make a huge difference and significantly improve the look, feel and healthiness of the water.
You can reduce the pool electricity use from 40% to about 10% (as well as reduce chemical use 3x -5x and eliminate the need for a pool technician). The necessary sensors and automation cost only $330 up-front as part of a package of services from Pooled Energy.
3. Small Blower Heaters (and radiators)
Throw them out! They may look small but they gobble up energy. If you run a 10 amp blower heater every night for 5 months, you will spend more than a $1,000 on electricity on Time-of-use electricity.
Get a reverse cycle air-conditioner. These typically have operating costs less than one-fifth the running cost of the blower heater. A good quality reverse cycle air conditioner running in average conditions is 4-6 times more efficient than a blower heater or radiator.
4. Heated Towel Rails
These can be a major energy consumer. They can be worse than blower heaters! Put them on timers and run them only when you need to…and try to avoid peak hours of 2pm- 8 p.m. Do not use them to dry clothes. A single towel rail, left on 24 hours a day, can consume over $1,200 a year in electricity.
5. Leaks and Draughts
Walk around the house in winter and feel the surfaces. If any are cold to the touch, they are leaking heat from your heated house. Feel the windows. Cold, right? Thick curtains will help reduce heat loss. You should also consider double glazing windows. Installing double glazing windows can make a significant impact on your comfort levels in summer and winter.
Any draughts? Big ones can add $500-$1,000 a year to heating and cooling. Some trim strips or draft excluders might be a great idea.
Insulation and double-glazed windows can make a significant impact on heat leaking out in winter and keeping heat out in summer. That means you can consume much less energy maintaining the home at a comfortable temperature.
Feel the fridge door. Cold? Maybe it’s time for a new fridge. There is not much you can do about poor insulation. Modern fridges are much better insulated and much more efficient, and with time, the efficiency of the refrigerator compressor can also decline. It can take just a few years with current energy costs for a new refrigerator to be a really worthwhile purchase.
Is there condensation around the door seal, or is the fridge running a lot? Check the seals and the door closing mechanism. A new seal or door closure can save you hundreds of dollars a year in wasted energy.
7. Second Refrigerators
Aussies love their second fridges, but do they really need to run at peak tariff times? Try a time clock that switches the fridge off in the peak hours of 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. if you have Time-of-use power. The fridge will stay cold unless you are opening the door all the time and so, on your birthday or celebratory days, just bypass the time clock.
Also, fill the fridge. It will operate much better and be more efficient if it has a lot of liquid in it, rather than air, as the fridge will be cycled less frequently. It’s a good idea to keep the ice-trays full for the same reason and maybe add a few extra trays or an ice-cream container that can freeze up a couple of litres of water.
Walk around the house every day for a week, look at the lights that are on most of the time, and then change them to LEDs. Often 80% of the light energy consumption comes from 20% of the lights. You can make a big energy consumption saving by changing just the biggest users. LED’s consume far less energy (around a tenth) and typically last 50 times longer than incandescent globes, 25 times longer than halogen globes, and 10 times longer than fluorescent globes.
9. Other Appliances
Computers, TVs and other appliances use stand-by power. It’s not much, but it can add up. Turn appliances off at the wall rather than with the remote to save on this.
10. Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating is cosy and wonderful but uses lots of electricity that can run into thousands of dollars a year in electricity costs. Underfloor heating is typically 6-8 times more expensive than reverse cycle air-conditioning to operate for space heating. Underfloor heaters convert electricity directly to heat, while air conditioners are ‘heat-pumps’ that shift heat from the inside to the outside in summer, and in winter, pump heat energy into your home. Air conditioners use significantly less electricity for the same amount of heating.
The best way to use underfloor heating is to complement it with an air-conditioner for the space, and restrict it to keeping the floor at a comfortable temperature. Use a time-clock to run it using off-peak electricity (10pm-7am) to heat up the concrete slab, and turn it off during the more expensive daytime and peak tariff periods.