Reducing your power usage has the double-pronged benefit of saving you money and lowering your carbon footprint. There’s plenty you can do to cut back on your power consumption, from making the switch to solar power to upgrading to LED lights.
One of the best things you can do to cut back on power usage is to identify what home appliances are the most power hungry. Once you know which appliances are using the most power, you can look to upgrade them to more energy-efficient models, or look for alternatives.
So, let’s have a look at some of the household appliances that are the most expensive to run, and what you can do to minimise their running costs.
Dishwashers are expensive to run. However, modern dishwashers are more energy-efficient and use less water than washing by hand. However, there are still some tricks you use to make them more efficient.
Always make sure that your dishwasher is full before turning it on. This will reduce how often you need to run it. Additionally, your dishwasher may have an eco-mode that uses less power and water. Try using this setting regularly, if not every time. If your dishwasher has a temperature setting, try using the lowest setting to reduce the amount of work your water heater has to do. And try to avoid rinsing your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. This just wastes power and water on something that modern dishwashers will take care of anyway.
It’s important to bear in mind that the dishwasher model you choose will affect its efficiency and running costs. There can be as much as $100 difference in the annual running costs between different makes and models. If you’re intending to get a new dishwasher, make sure you do your research to find a dishwasher that suits your needs and is as energy efficient as possible. It’s also important to regularly clean your dishwasher to ensure optimal performance.
Fridge and Freezer
Even though your fridge and freezer need to stay switched on, you can minimise the energy they use. For instance, the temperature your appliances run at can be optimised. Try changing your fridge’s internal temperature to 3-4℃ and your freezer to 18℃. Your food will still be safe to eat but your appliances will use less power.
How you use your fridge can also have a marked impact on your power bill. Avoid opening your fridge as much as possible – only open it when you intend to get something out. This stops your fridge’s compressor from having to work harder to maintain a stable temperature.
Keeping your fridge well-stocked also means the compressor doesn’t have to work as hard. The more items in your fridge, the higher the thermal mass meaning it’s more likely to stay at a steady temperature.
As with dishwashers, the model of fridge you choose will affect the running costs. If you’re looking for a new fridge or freezer, consider a more energy-efficient option. Additionally, don’t forget to factor in your needs. A larger fridge may be more energy-efficient in theory, but if you do not keep it well stocked it will not be as effective.
Similarly, while it can be handy to have a chest freezer if you like to buy in bulk or cook large batches of meals for later, running additional fridges and freezers can quickly become expensive. Consider if you really need the drinks fridge or meat freezer in your garage. If they are necessary, make sure they are in a cool place out of direct sunlight and well ventilated. The hotter the environment, the more work the fridge will have to do to stay cold.
Like dishwashers, washing machines are more energy-efficient when doing full loads rather than half loads. Try to minimise how often you need to use your washing machine by washing clothes in bulk.
Using the cold wash setting will also save you significant energy as you won’t need to run the hot water system every time you wash your clothes.
When purchasing a new washing machine, opt for a front-loading machine. Not only do they use less water and detergent than top-loaders, but they require less power to run. Don’t forget to look at the energy ratings of the different models to find one that not only suits your needs but is a good choice for the environment and your wallet.
Clothes dryers can be incredibly expensive to run, especially when there is a 100% free alternative. Whenever possible, try to air dry your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack.
If you have to use your dryer, try to use an eco or energy saving setting. As with the washing machine, try to only dry full loads to make the most of the energy the machine uses.
If you’re intending to purchase a dryer, pay attention to the energy ratings of various makes and models. If you choose wisely, you can save hundreds of dollars in annual running costs.
There are a number of hot water services available, including electric, gas and solar. Whichever service you use, there will be ways to save money and water.
Start by using hot water only when it’s essential. For instance, you can cut down on your hot water bills by slightly reducing the temperature of your showers. By installing a digital water thermostat, you can set your shower at the optimal temperature for comfort and energy efficiency.
Water-saving devices are another great way to reduce hot water usage. A water saving shower head, for example, will use less water, meaning less water needs to be heated for every shower.
Swimming pools can be an absolute sinkhole when it comes to energy usage. The most obvious tip is to change from electric or gas heating to solar pool heating. This can reduce your pool heating costs from upwards of $1,500 per year to less than $200 per year.
Using a swimming pool cover will also help to maintain pool temperature, meaning your heating system has less work to do, which saves energy and money.
Heating and Cooling
For most Australian households, heating and cooling costs will represent the bulk of their power bill. While heating and cooling systems will inevitably be expensive to run, there is plenty you can do to minimise these costs.
Ideally, your home should be as thermally efficient as possible. You want your home to maintain a fairly stable temperature year-round. To do this, make sure you have quality ceiling and wall insulation and there are no gaps around windows and doors that may let cold air in.
Don’t forget about passive heating and cooling either. You might find all you need to do is open or close a window to return your house to a comfortable temperature. On hot or cold days, keep curtains and blinds closed so that the house is more thoroughly insulated.
If you do need to use a heater or air conditioner, there are ways you can make these appliances more energy efficient and therefore cheaper to run. To start, only heat and cool the rooms you are actually using. For example, if you’re working from home on a hot day, turn the air conditioner on in your home office only, rather than everywhere in the house.
With air conditioners, try to minimise the work they need to do. On hot summer days, don’t turn your home into the arctic. Set the air conditioner to 24℃ rather than 18℃. In winter, set your heater to around 20℃.
For heating, if you can, get a reverse-cycle air conditioner. These are more energy efficient than space heaters. However, space heaters can be a good choice for heating a small space or if you need a portable heating solution.
Reducing your carbon footprint is not only good for the environment, but you’ll save money in the process. Where possible, minimise how often you use appliances, like washing machines, air conditioners and clothes dryers. If you can, upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances, like a solar water heater or reverse-cycle air conditioner.