Australians spend an average of almost $1,700 on gas and electricity every year, per household. This figure is only an average, so households with more people tend to have an even higher expenditure each year. That said, the number of people living in the home is only one factor that increases cost. One of the biggest reasons for high gas and electricity bills is energy lost through inefficient appliances and power-sucking electronics. It is estimated that only 65% of the bill is for utilities that were actually used, while the rest is wasted power that didn’t benefit residents.
If you’re interested in cutting some of your power costs then one of the easiest ways to start is by learning about which gadgets in your home are using the most power. We’ve put together a list showing the biggest power perpetrators and steps you can take to reduce energy waste.
Fridges use more power than almost any appliance and while it isn’t really an option to forego refrigeration, it is possible to choose more efficient refrigerators over the energy hogs. If you’re fridge is very old or has a low energy rating, it has to use a lot more power to keep things cool, especially during warmer months. If you have the option to upgrade, try to find the most efficient model, and choose the smallest one that is still practical for your household. You can also try to position your fridge away from sunny windows or hot ovens that will force the fridge to work harder than usual to stay cool.
The same rules on upgrades and efficiency ratings apply for almost any appliance, such as microwaves, ovens, and kettles, but fridges are the only ones that tend to be on all the time, year round, so they should be a priority when replacing old appliances with new ones.
Light Bulbs on their own don’t use all that much power, but the tendency to forget that they’re on, or choose less efficient models, makes them big wasters over time. Some light fixtures have multiple bulbs installed, or are left on when residents leave their homes. Next time you’re buying new bulbs, check out the energy rating or choose more efficient CLF’s or LEDs to cut down costs. You might even write a reminder by the front door to make sure lights are turned off before leaving for the day.
While these are only used for five to ten minutes each day, the amount of power used by hairdryers is surprisingly high and tend to be one of the major electricity drainers in a household. If possible, by from an energy efficient brand and operate on a lower power settings or the “cool” mode to cut down on kilowatts used. When you can, towel or air dry!
Charging electronics and standby
Most people think that simply turning electronics off will prevent them from using power, but anything that is plugged in will continue to draw electricity. The power used from idle electronics is often termed “vampire power” as it silently sucks electricity, slowly, over time. Some of the biggest energy wasters are laptops, mobile phones, video game consoles and televisions. If any of these are not in use, they should be unplugged or switched off at the outlet. If laptops or phones have finished charging, unplug them until it’s actually necessary. Try not to leave anything on charge overnight, or anything plugged in that isn’t in immediate use. Things like microwaves that display the time or stereos constantly glowing blue or orange lights are all wasting energy and costing you money. To make things easier, plug multiple appliances into a power board so you can switch them all off in one go.
Australians own the most pools out of anyone in the world, and most pools come with a pump. While these are easily forgotten, out of sight, out of mind, pool pumps run for twenty four hours a day and are extremely inefficient. Some estimates say that annually, pool pumps cost roughly the same as a large vehicle. If possible, trade in for a smaller pump or opt for one that is solar-powered.
Dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes Dryers
Many Australians take advantage of sunny weather to hang dry clothing on the line, or use an indoor rack during winter, saving precious dollars on electricity. For Dishwashers and washing machines, water wastage is often thought of as the biggest issue however, these machines take a lot of power to run. When you add on heating for cleaning dishes and running warm loads, the prices keep increasing. Where possible, use the cold setting for laundry and make sure you don’t run any loads of clothes or dishes unless the machines have a full load. When buying anything new, do your best to find the highest energy rating available, and choose the smallest option that works for your home.
Heating and Cooling
While we don’t really think about our air conditioner as an appliance or electronic, they are the biggest energy users across the board in Western countries. Do your best to insulate your home and resort to artificial heating and cooling only when absolutely needed, and you’ll see big changes in your utilities costs. Cheap utilities are not only a result of a good energy provider, but also of conscious and sustainable living practices.
Hopefully you’ve been able to identify some areas of your household that are unnecessarily increasing your energy costs, and you’re now even more empowered to stop wastage in your home. Finding the major culprits not only helps you save money on electricity and gas, but it reduces your impact on the Earth’s rising greenhouse gas problems. With some new information and power-saving tools in your hands, you can start looking forward to your next utilities bill so you can start counting your savings to come.