Wondering how to save energy?

Have you ever wondered where all that electricity that you’re paying for is used in your home? And how you can use less with very little effort?

We have put together a summary of the average Australian household’s energy use and some great ideas on how to use less.

Where do you use your energy?

The diagram below shows a breakdown of the average energy usage in Australian homes. Your home may differ from this - for example, if you have a heated pool this would use more amount of energy.

Where do you use your energy?
Where do you use your energy?

Heating and cooling are typically the biggest energy users in Australian homes. To minimise the amount of energy used in heating and cooling, it's important to minimise the heat lost from your home in winter and the heat gained in summer.

This diagram shows some of the ways that an un-insulated home can gain and lose heat.

This diagram shows some of the ways that an un-insulated home can gain and lose heat.
Ways that an un-insulated home can gain and lose heat.

Some ideas to help you save energy and costs.

Make ceiling insulation your priority! This is the most effective and best value action.  Build up ceiling insulation until it is 25-30 cm thick. Recommended insulation value for Gloucester is between R 4 (for light coloured roof) and R 5 (for dark roof) for mild temperate climates. 

Switch to a more efficient hot water system especially if it is >15 years old. Your choice of a new system needs to be tailored to your situation – solar system or using your own PV electricity. 

  • Check windows for drafts and apply sealing tape.
  • Make draft “snakes” (or a rolled-up towel) to cover the join in double sash windows.
  • Install “double” glazing (e.g. a lift out panel of glass in a timber frame, Perspex panel or window film).
  • Install pelmets above curtains.  Cheap temporary ones can be made from cardboard.
  • Add an extra insulating layer to existing curtains. This can be cheaply done with materials like old doonas from op–shops.
  • Add curtains or blinds to windows. Cheap options include bubble wrap and window blankets, which can be make decorative with creative colour treatments.
  • Conserve the heat in your main living area by closing off rooms not being used.
  • In winter concentrate activities like office work or sewing in the warm living areas.
  • Dress for the climate - use jumpers, warm socks and slippers before turning on the heating, especially in Autumn and Spring.
  • Adjust thermostat to lower setting - every 1C adds 10% to running costs.
  • Install door curtains for doors with glass or uninsulated timber panels.
  • Check that ceiling fans blades are operating in the right mode for summer and winter.
  • Use a fan before using air conditioner in the summer.
  • Open-up the house early in the morning to purge out the heat then close up curtains and blinds before the day warms up.
  • Make the most of cool nights by opening windows for cross ventilation.
  • Close blinds and curtains when air conditioning.
  • Wait until you have a full load before starting the washing machine.
  • Use cold water for clothes washing to reduce the energy used to heat water.
  • Use the economy/delicate cycle on your washing machine for lightly soiled clothes.
  • Run the dishwasher when it is full as full loads reduce the amount of energy and water used.
  • Use the economy cycle or lowest temperature setting on your dishwasher to get the job done.
  • Use your clothes drier sparingly - they are major power users!
  • Always put a full load in before drying. 
  • Borrow a power meter from the Council to work out how much power your home appliances are using.
  • Turn off appliances at the power point when not in use.
  • Next time you make a new purchase, factor in the energy rating when making your decision.
  • Maximise natural light by opening curtains/using skylights or moving your work to where there is good natural light.
  • Replace light globes with energy efficient LED - they now pay for themselves within a year and last longer!
  • Install motion sensors where you need to have outside lights for safety.
  • Use lamps where possible to reduce the need to use the full room lights.
  • Select a light with the lowest wattage for your needs.
  • Get into the habit of turning off lights when you leave the room.
  • Fridges/freezers are big power users.  Review how you use additional fridges and freezers so that they are only turned on when really necessary.
  • Consider if your fridge is old and inefficient.  You may save money by upgrading.  A new fridge can use less than half the electricity compared to one that is more than 10 years old.
  • Ensure air can circulate around all sides for your fridge/freezer.
  • If possible, move fridges/freezers that are in a hot area.  The hotter they get the more it costs!
  • Replace fridge/freezer door seals if ineffective, i.e. can the seal hold a $5 note?  If not, replace it.
  • Keep your freezer free of ice build-up as ice causes the motor to use more power.
  • Check oven door seals and replace if ineffective.
  • Match your cooking method to the task, including quantity of water boiled. Use a microwave for small amounts, mini-oven, slow cookers and pressure cookers.
  • Use fan forced function in your oven if available - cooks faster.
  • Use an electric toaster instead of the oven griller. 
  • Cover firewood with black plastic to keep it dry.
  • If wood is hard to light, leave it to season for next winter.  Order well in advance in case wood needs more seasoning.


www.gov.au for Household Guides; or 

www.energymadeeasy.gov.au for Tips for Saving Energy.