Damien Moyse, policy and research manager at the Alternative Technology Association, says a huge range of variables affect heating costs and the thermal quality of your home is a huge factor. The quality and extent of the insulation, and whether there are gaps around windows and doors, are big contributors. The thermal properties of single-glazed windows can be improved by installing curtains and a pelmet. (More: Reduce your energy bills with these home efficiency hacks)
The comfortable temperature range for humans is between 18 and 24 degrees, so lowering the thermostat to between 18 and 20 degrees and wearing a jumper will reduce costs significantly. Zoning – whereby heating is not turned on in unused rooms – is another efficiency.
Avoid setting the air-conditioner temperature too low. Between 22 and 24 degrees is a good guide. Block out sunlight by drawing blinds and curtains during the heat of the day and consider exterior awnings. Open windows at night when it’s cooler. If you are expecting a very hot day, turn the air-conditioner on early; don’t wait until the room is a furnace.
Hot-water systems need to hold the water temperature at 60 degrees or above to prevent legionella. Savings relate to usage. Don’t pre-rinse with hot water before loading the dishwasher, keep showers short and consider the many options when it’s time to replace the unit.
Cool air can leak out if door seals are dirty or damaged. Make sure there is a gap of seven to 10 centimetres between the fridge and the wall to prevent heat build-up which will require the fridge to work harder. Set the temperature at the optimum level recommended for your model. This will ensure it works at its most efficient. Chest freezers are more efficient than upright models.
Washing in warm or hot water uses 50 to 85 per cent more energy than cold water, depending on whether you have a front loader, which is a more efficient model, or a top loader.
Moyse says appliances are becoming more efficient as technology improves, but the most efficient may be more expensive initially. Another benefit of improved technology is that ‘vampire’ power, the power consumed by appliances that are turned off but still switched on at the wall, has been greatly reduced, but it is still a good idea to switch off unused items at the wall.
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