Reduce your power bills with these easy home efficiency hacks

Living Well | Sarah Marinos | Posted on 16 July 2019

Simple but effective home efficiency hacks to help reduce your utility bills.

Australian homeowners are worried about rising energy prices, and households with children or those on lower incomes are particularly feeling the pressure and pain. 

Last year, RACV research found water prices had risen by about 115 per cent over the past decade while gas prices have soared by 100 per cent over the past two years. We’re also paying more for electricity, with RACV research finding an average increase of $329 per bill over the decade to 2017.

With no sign of the cost of these utilities falling, how can homeowners make some changes at home to cut water and energy use and reduce their bills? Sustainability Victoria’s energy efficiency specialist, Ian McNicol, shares some ideas:

Edison lightbulb switched on against blue background

Energy-saving hacks


Lighting

“Lighting is one of the main areas of electricity use in our home,” Ian says. “Changes can reduce your lighting energy use by around 80 per cent.” 

  • Replace incandescent and halogen light globes with energy efficient ones, such as LEDs. 
  • Replace halogen downlights with LED lamps. 
  • Replace compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) with high-efficiency LED lamps. 
  • Getting inefficient lighting replaced with high-efficiency LED lighting is free or low cost under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program. 

Bathroom

“The bathroom is the main area of hot water use in our homes, with showering accounting for almost two thirds or 63 per cent of household hot water use,” says Ian. 

  • Aim for three to four-minute showers. 
  • Use a low-flow shower head with a water efficiency (WELS) rating of three stars, or less than nine litres per minute. 
  • Upgrade to a more efficient water heating system – choose high-efficiency gas water heaters, solar water heaters and heat pump water heaters. 

Kitchen

“Not only does the kitchen include high energy use appliances like a fridge, dishwasher and oven, it’s also the area of the home where the lighting is used most often,” Ian says. 

  • Keep your fridge out of direct sunlight and away from hot appliances, like the oven. 
  • Allow for at least a 50-millimetre gap around the fridge for ventilation. 
  • Don’t leave the door open for too long and let hot food cool before putting it in the fridge. 
  • Only run the dishwasher when it’s full and use the economy setting.  
  • Don’t rinse dishes in hot water before putting them in the dishwasher – just scrape them off.  
  • Use a lower setting on a fan-forced oven. 
  • Use a microwave for re-heating food, not the oven. 

Heating

“Make sure your heaters are maintained for efficiency and safety,” says Ian. “If you have a ducted heating system or a reverse-cycle air conditioner, clean the filters regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.” 

  • Close off doors to unheated areas and stop draughts. 
  • Use zoning on your ducted heating system, so you only heat areas that are needed. 
  • Don’t set the thermostat too high – aim for 18C to 20C. 
  • Keep your home well insulated. 

Air-conditioning

“Make sure that your east, north and west-facing windows are well shaded to keep sun out,” suggests McNicol. “If the sun is shining through, every square metre of unshaded window can let in the same amount of heat as produced by a small bar radiator.” 

  • Only cool areas of the home that you are using.