Rohan’s Winter Energy Efficiency Tips
Father of two, solar whiz and Infinite Energy Installer Relations and Products Manager, Rohan, has given us his personal energy efficiency tips on how to stay on top of your electricity bills whilst we’re all staying home more now the weather is cooling down. Below are his top tips:
1. Control your heating
Heating (and cooling) appliances, like reverse-cycle air conditioners, are usually one of the most energy-consuming assets in your home, and if set at the wrong temperature, can equate to a costly expense.
Now that it’s cooling down, you should be setting your heating thermostat between 18-20°C. Every extra degree outside these recommendations can increase energy use by 10%, which can equate to a few hundred dollars a year added to your electricity bill.
You should also only have the AC on in rooms you’re using, and make sure internal doors are closed. To be extra efficient, you can use draught-proofing strips or door snakes to make sure no heat is escaping.
Remember to regularly clean both air conditioner filters and fans. Keeping these appliances dust free will allow your air conditioner to work more efficiently and thus use less energy.
2. Heat rises
Don’t let all the energy you use to heat your home be wasted through poor insulation.
Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter. It’s also worthwhile assessing whether your home has good insulation, which can minimise the need for heating, and can save up to 45% on your heating bills.
Many newer homes today are built with energy efficiency in mind, however, older homes most likely aren’t and therefore have less insulation. To find out whether you should add or replace your current insulation, you will need to have a qualified home energy auditor conduct a home isolation check, as part of a whole-house energy assessment.
Although not the same as ceiling insulation, rugs can be particularly effective for acting as a layer of insulation for your floor.
3. Shower power
Hot water accounts for about 25% of your electricity bill. When you have a family of 4 like Rohan, your hot water usage can rise significantly in winter. As tempting as it may be, try not to stay in the shower for long periods of time to warm up, as it’ll definitely cost you.
Instead, try using a heat-pack and rugging up with warm clothes and socks or ugg-boots to keep yourself warm. You can also try a heated throw blanket for extra warmth.
Switching to an energy-efficient shower head is also extremely effective at reducing both your water heating costs, and water bill.
4. Switch off to save
Probably one of the most basic and easy-to-do activities to reduce your electricity bill is to switch off appliances when they’re not in use. There’s a common myth that leaving lights, appliances and other devices switched on uses less energy than turning them on and off again. This is simply not true. Standby power can account for more than 10% of your household electricity use.
Any appliances or devices that emit a light or have a clock will be drawing power. Mobile phone chargers even use power when your phone isn’t plugged in, so take it off the wall socket when you aren’t using it.
If you’re working from home, there are a number of things you can do too. Rather than having your laptop charging all day whilst you’re working, only turn it on when you really need to. Your laptop will notify you when your battery is getting low and will often automatically switch to battery-saving mode, so you won’t get caught out.
You could also consider using an energy saving power board for all your work-related tech. These work by having all your devices connected to the one board, which contains a master socket (e.g used for a laptop) and a slave socket (for devices such as printers, monitors, chargers). When you switch off your laptop at the end of the workday, power to the other units automatically shuts down as well, ensuring no electricity is wasted on devices that have been left on.
If the kids have been spending their morning in front of the television now that it’s colder, switch it off at the wall when they’re done.
5. Out with the old, in with the new
When selecting an appliance, use the energy star-rating label to choose the most efficient appliance.
Old, inefficient appliances can end up costing you a few hundred dollars a year to run. Many of us may have acquired a second fridge/freezer over the last few months to support the extra groceries we’re purchasing in preparation for the Covd-19 isolation period. This is perfectly understandable, however if you find it is only being used to stock a few items, it may be worth switching off until you really need it.
Alternatively, if you can get your hands on new, high-star rated whitegoods and appliances, the energy cost savings will repay the investment and more.
It’s important to note that for some products, the star rating that measures an appliance’s energy efficiency has changed over time to accommodate newer, more high-performing models. Therefore, an older appliance with a 3-star rating may equate to only a 2-star rating with today’s standards.
Lastly, always choose the right size model for your needs and don’t go unnecessarily overboard.
6. Bright ideas
With the extra time at home, now’s the opportunity to get onto swapping out all those old lights with energy efficient lightbulbs. Quality LED light bulbs last 5 to 10 times longer than halogen light bulbs and consume a quarter of the energy to produce the same light output. Although they will be more expensive upfront than other light bulbs (around $10 each), LED outperforms when considering ongoing electricity and replacement costs.
LED lights also work more efficiently with your insulation than halogen lights. This is because when installing halogen lights, you must have a 50mm safety gap around the fitting. This makes the insulations thermal performance less effective, which results in higher heating and cooling costs. IC-F or IC rated LED downlights run much cooler so they don’t need to have the safety gap like halogen lights do.
Even better yet, take advantage of natural light and open up your blinds and curtains to let the sunlight in. Doing this can also help to warm up your house during the day in winter if it’s sunny outside. Just make sure you close your curtains again when the sun disappears as this can have the opposite effect and make your home colder.
7. Shine with solar
One of the most effective and worthwhile investments you’ll make to reduce your electricity bills is to install a solar PV system. Despite what some may believe, solar is still extremely beneficial and effective at reducing your electricity costs in winter. Solar works best when the temperature is cool (rather than in extremely hot conditions like it can be in summer), and the sun is shining. Australia in particular is an excellent contender for solar in winter as there are a high number of clear, sunny days. There are so many ways you can use your solar system to reduce your electricity bills.
Installing a battery can also deliver significant benefits. While we always encourage our customers to shift as much of their energy consumption to during the day when the sun is shinning, batteries can be an excellent addition to allow you the flexibility to use your solar energy at night when you are most likely going to need it most.
If you would like to have a chat with one of our energy consultants about installing solar for your home, please contact us today.