The low-down on lowering energy use

Holly CoomeyThe West Australian
Opt for drying your clothes on the clothesline rather than the dryer when possible.
Camera IconOpt for drying your clothes on the clothesline rather than the dryer when possible. Credit: Supplied.

One of the major expenses for many households, particularly those with big families, is the dreaded power bill.

As much as we try and stay conscious about our energy consumption, it can often slip our minds, particularly in the warmer months when staying cool is king.

Synergy General Manager Customer Experience Colin Smith said there was a number of simple ways to reduce your energy use and, by extension, help your hip pocket.

“One of the easiest things we can do is switch off electrical devices when they are not in use,” he said.

“Almost all homes will have a range of electrical appliances and items charging or using power throughout the day, even when no-one is home. Turning these off is a quick way to improve energy use.”

Of course we cannot switch off our fridge and freezer, but ensuring your fridge temperature is kept between 4C and 5C and your freezer temperature between -15C and -18C, limiting door openings and keeping evaporators ice-free are all helpful ways to run the appliances efficiently.

The location of these appliances can also be helpful to consider.

“Areas with poor ventilation where heat can get trapped, such as garages, means large appliances have to work harder,” Mr Smith said.

In winter, the thermostat of a heater should be at 18C to 20C; anything higher and it will begin to chew through your power. In summer, keep the air-conditioner at around 24C.

“Setting your air-conditioner at around 24C in summer will ensure it runs at its most efficient,” Mr Smith said.

“For every degree below 24C, electricity cost goes up by 10 per cent.”

To trap the temperature-perfect air inside, ensure your house is well insulated, close doors to unused rooms and seal up gaps around doors and windows to prevent the air from leaking out.

We are very lucky in Perth with our warm days, so opt for drying your clothes on the clothesline rather than the dryer when possible.

Although a blanket or an oodie costs money initially, they do not use power and therefore should be utilised if you are cold, be it in bed – use multiple blankets if required – or for those lazy days and evenings on the couch. If in doubt, layer up.

Where lighting is concerned, there are many choices. Mr Smith recommended installing LED lights around the home for energy efficiency and using solar lights outside around the garden.

“Energy-efficient lights like LEDs last up to 25 times longer than halogen downlights and can have a significant, positive impact on energy use,” he said.

When shopping for new electrical appliances, Mr Smith said to take note of the star rating. The higher the star rating, the more economical the appliance will be.

“Looking at the star-ratings of appliances can also be a useful way to manage energy use over the longer-term,” he said.

“The cheapest appliance will provide savings now, however, they aren’t always the most energy-efficient to run over time.

“Using the Energy Rating Label as a guide, appliances with a higher star-rating are likely to use less electricity and may be worth considering when weighing up options.”

When building a new house, Mr Smith recommended thinking about energy efficiency early in the process and speaking to your builder about solar-passive design.

“Solar-passive design refers to making the most of the sun’s energy for heating and cooling purposes – allowing as much warmth in as possible during winter and blocking heat out in the summer,” he said.

“At a foundational level it can impact the layout of a home to ensure it maximises variations in the sun’s angle across the seasons; and it can also feed into the types of building materials used for major elements of construction such as windows and walls.”

As we all know, solar power can make a big difference to our power bills and, although a big investment to begin with, it comes with great benefits further down the line.

“Living in Western Australia puts us in one of the sunniest spots in the world and solar technology offers a great opportunity to put the sun to work,” Mr Smith said.

“Solar systems can be a great way to provide cost savings and help to lower energy bills.

“Scheduling high energy-use appliances like pool pumps or dishwashers to run in the middle of the day when the sun is shining brightest means homes can be powered from the sun rather than drawing from the electricity grid.”

CONTACT Synergy, 131 353,

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