Energy efficiency in your home: 12 helpful tips

It's much easier to use less energy around the home is than you might think. Tapping into the sun's warmth and light, making simple design changes, choosing and using your appliances wisely and changing some old habits can make all the difference to your energy bills, your comfort and the environment.

Energy efficiency in your home: 12 helpful tips

Top 12 energy savers

  1. Install large windows on the northern side of your house to make the most of the sun's warmth. To stay cool in summer, install awnings, eaves or blinds that block the high summer sun.
  2. Make sure that your home is well insulated. A properly insulated home can be up to 10°C (50°F) warmer in winter and as much as 7°C (45°F) cooler in summer.
  3. Whenever the weather permits, use a clothesline instead of a dryer to dry your laundry. Doing so will save you money and help cut greenhouse gases by about 3 kilograms (6.5 pounds) for every load of washing. However, some neighbourhoods and apartment complexes have have certain restrictions on clotheslines, so be sure to check with your local authority.
  4. One of the simplest ways to save energy is to completely switch off or unplug appliances when you won't be using them for a few hours. Keeping appliances on stand-by can account for 10 per cent of a household electricity bill.
  5. If you have central heating and an adjustable thermostat, try turning your heating down a fraction. You may not notice a big difference heat-wise, but you could make big savings: a reduction of 1°C (34°F) can cut bills by 10 per cent.
  6. Plug gaps around windows and doors and any other external openings using draft stoppers and weather strips. Draft-proofing can cut household heat loss by up to 25 per cent in winter.
  7. Cover windows with heavy, lined, close-fitting curtains to reduce heat loss by up to one-third in the winter
  8. Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Though a little more expensive than conventional bulbs, CFLs are much more efficient, creating an equivalent light at a significantly lower wattage — a 25-watt CFL is as bright as a 100-watt regular bulb. As a result, CFLs can last 10 times as long and use 80 per cent less energy.
  9. Select appliances that are both energy-efficient and the right size for your needs. For example, a 284 litre (10.03 cubic feet) fridge will use 20 per cent more energy than a 210 litre (7.4 cubic feet) fridge, even if they both have the same energy rating.
  10. If you have a choice between natural gas and conventional electricity, go with gas. Not only is natural gas normally cheaper, it produces one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity from coal-fired power stations.
  11. Make sure that your hot-water tank and pipes are properly insulated. In an average home, heating water accounts for more than one-quarter of the household energy bill — and as much as half of total water-heating costs can be due to heat loss.
  12. The next time you change your hot-water system, consider buying an energy-efficient gas, solar or electric-heat-pump unit. These systems cost more to purchase, but are much cheaper to run. They will save you money in the long term, and help reduce greenhouse gases.

Check your billings

Working out how energy-efficient your home is can simply be a matter of taking a close look at your habits, bills, appliances and fittings. Many energy authorities and suppliers provide information and tools that will assist with your attempts to make a more efficient home, and some even offer onsite assessments.

Alternatively, seek advice from building designers who specialize in sustainability.

Keep these 12 helpful tips (and more) in mind to help boost the energy efficiency of your home.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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