Here are some tips to make your home warmer, save you money and reduce your environmental impact.
1) Warm your home efficiently
Around half the energy we use in our homes in Tasmania is for heating. There are simple things that you can do to reduce this and still stay warm. These range from fixing draughty windows and insulating your ceiling through to putting on warm socks. Typically, the biggest loss of heat from a building occurs through the ceiling (up to 35%), walls (up to 30%) and floors (up to 15%), so insulation is well worth considering. Sealing draughts is also a good way to reduce heat loss. Come in and grab a Home Energy Audit Toolkit and on a cool night, walk around the outside of your home and use the infrared radiometer to identify where heat is escaping. You can also use an incense stick on a windy day to locate draughts inside the home, typically around windows, doors, pipes and vents. Once you know where heat is escaping you can get to work sealing gaps and insulating surfaces better.
2) Install water efficient showerheads and taps
More than 25% of the electricity used in the average Tasmanian home is for heating water for the bathroom, laundry and kitchen. One of the best ways to reduce electricity bills is to reduce hot water use by installing water efficient taps and showerheads (that use only 5 litres per minute). Why not grab a bucket and stopwatch and test yours? You can also have shorter showers, use cold water to wash clothes and use mixer taps in the cold water position when hot water is not needed.
3) Attend to your hot water cylinder
All hot water tanks are insulated, but in most cases the insulation can be improved. You can use the infrared radiometer in the Home Energy Audit Toolkit to measure the surface temperature of your hot water tank to see where the tank is losing heat because of poor insulation. Adding extra insulation to your hot water cylinder can save you up to $200 per year in electricity use. You can also cut energy use by adjusting the thermostat on your tank to 60oC (any lower than 50 oC and bacteria can grow in the tank).
4) Think about your fridges and freezers
Many fridges use twice as much energy as needed. Come and grab a Home Energy Audit Toolkit from the City of Hobart and measure the temperature in your fridge and freezers (which should range between 3 to 5 and -15 to -18 oC respectively). Use the infrared thermometer to check for temperature differences around the door seals, these can easily be repaired if faulty. Fridges and freezers should be located in cool parts of the house and have a 3 to 5cm gap at the rear and 2 to 3cm at the sides. If the outside coils are clogged with dirt and dust, more energy is used, so unplug the fridge and give them a clean. Also consider turning off extra fridges and freezers when not in regular use.
5) Sort out your lighting
LED lights use a tenth of the energy of the older technology halogen or incandescent bulbs, so will pay for themselves in just a few months. The City of Hobart has replaced 2300 light bulbs over the last few years, saving the equivalent of about 90 households worth of electricity consumption. You should also eliminate ceiling mounted down lights wherever possible with the aim to have as few holes cut in your ceiling as possible.
6) Cover your windows from the inside
Curtains and blinds are a great way to keep in heat at night and save on electricity. Plastic film can also be applied to windows, or plastic panels can be attached to windows as a second layer using magnetic strip. These do-it-yourself options are cheaper than new double glazed windows and have a faster payback period.
7) Eliminate your standby power use
Many appliances around your home will continue to use electricity, even when not in use. This is called standby energy consumption. Often equipment on standby will be warm to the touch, have an indicator light (such as a camera charger) or a clock (such as a microwave or television). Use the Power-Mate in the Home Energy Audit Toolkit to understand how much energy is used by electrical items that use standby mode. If several devices are used together, they can be plugged into an accessible power-board that can be easily switched off when not in use.
8) Monitor your electricity use with a smart meter
Smart meters record your electricity use in real time, and while they won’t do anything to minimise your electricity bills themselves, they can be useful in changing your electricity usage habits. Smart meters can be displayed in a prominent place and highlight just how much electricity you are using at any one time (or hourly, weekly, etc.). They gather electricity usage data from your meter and can help you identify the effectiveness of electricity saving measures, or the impact of particular appliances on your bills.
9) Investing in energy efficiency adds up
On a larger scale, the City of Hobart too has been making a concerted effort to improve the energy efficiency of its operations and buildings. Each year, money is set aside to invest in projects where energy savings can be made and since 2009 hundreds of actions have been initiated specifically to improve energy efficiency in City operations. The payback period of most projects has been five years or less, which means that the City has been able to quickly pay off the cost of the projects and is thereafter actually saving money. All in all, the City now saves over $1 million a year in electricity costs alone, and this is set to grow as the City finds and invests in more efficiency upgrades. City upgrades include installing LED lights, heat pump hot water systems, better insulation, solar panels and energy efficient glazing. View more about the various ways the City has reduced its energy use.
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