How to save money on energy costs

You could save up to $760* per year by making changes to your energy consumption and how you set up your home. As the years tick by, this adds up to a substantial amount of money that is much better spent paying off your mortgage more quickly.

Here’s how:

1. Invest in energy-efficient appliances

  • Australian-bought appliances use the Energy Rating star system – the more stars, the better the energy efficiency. While appliances with higher ratings may cost more to buy initially, you will save on energy costs in the long run.
  • Keep your appliances regularly maintained so that they last longer and maintain their optimal energy consumption.

2. Monitor electricity usage

  • There are numerous apps and devices available that help you easily track your energy consumption, so you can get to know which appliances and activities cost the most. Being aware of each cost means you can strategically choose what you use, when and how often.
  • Make sure you know the time of day when energy costs the most (e.g., peak times) and manage your usage around this as much as you can. For example, try running the washing machine or dishwasher at night.

3. Don’t overdo your air con or heating

  • There’s usually no need to crank the dial to the maximum – each degree up (for heating) and down (for cooling) can add around 10 percent to your energy use. A comfortable room temperature is about 22 degrees – you can use the thermostat or a thermometer to keep track of this.

4. Keep hot water usage to a minimum

  • Hot showers in particular tend to account for a large part of your energy bill. A 20-minute shower uses 20 times more energy than standing under two heat lamps!
  • Get a water-efficient showerhead – these tend to pay for themselves very quickly.
  • Wash clothes with cold water whenever possible.

5. Be efficient

  • Insulation greatly reduces the need for air conditioning or heating. New homes should have at least the minimum requirements for insulation in your state. However, you can always go beyond these requirements to further improve your energy savings, and you can add insulation to an older house.
  • Don’t waste that cool/warm air! You should always close off the space you are cooling or heating, so the air doesn’t escape. Close doors, windows, curtains and blinds – more than one-third of the heat can escape through windows alone. You can also purchase door seals, draught-proofing strips and door snakes, which can reduce your costs by up to a quarter.
  • If you are installing air conditioning or heating, think about where it will be of the most use. You may not need it in more than a couple of rooms.
  • Turn off appliances when not in use, such as TVs, computers, printers and gaming consoles.
  • Don’t use the tumble dryer unless you absolutely need to. Find the best drying spot in your home and make it easy to use so that hanging up the washing is less of a chore.
  • Only run the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer when they are full.

6. Be practical

  • Compare energy retailers and make sure you are getting the best deal that suits your household needs.
  • Switching on the air con or heater shouldn’t be a daily habit. To save both energy and dollars, only turn on the air con or heater when you really need it.
  • There are many far less costly ways to maintain a comfortable temperature, for example:
    – In summer: dress appropriately; open windows and doors to create through-draughts; avoid house chores on very hot days; use blinds to keep the hot sunlight out during the day; have a cold shower or a swim; and regularly drink cool water from the fridge.
    – In winter: dress appropriately (use layers, socks and beanies); use curtains or blinds to keep the warmth in at night; exercise more; have more warm drinks; invest in good quality blankets and doonas so you don’t need heating at night; use hot water bottles and/or blankets while watching TV or relaxing.

If you are buying a new home or renovating an existing home, consult an expert to ensure you are maximising energy efficiency through design, structure and placement of appliances. And of course, our Mortgage Choice brokers are always on hand to assist you with your finance options.

*Figure is  based on a family of four, according to the Department of Environment and Energy: