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Australia’s renewable energy significantly affects the environment. As a result, products with a higher energy efficiency rating that use less energy to perform the same amount of work are essential for reducing the country’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
In Australia, electricity, wood, and natural gas make up the majority of the energy we utilise. In Australian residences, 50% of the energy is provided by electricity. Energy efficiency in the house makes financial sense because the more energy-efficient your appliances are, the more money you will save on energy costs.
In order to assist homeowners in lowering their energy use and, as a result, greenhouse gas emissions, various Australian state governments launched energy efficiency programmes. These initiatives were implemented through electricity retailers.
Appliances in your home have energy ratings. You can discover how homes have energy ratings on our home energy rating page. And you can also read our guide to smart homes to find out how home automation can increase your house’s energy efficiency.
Energy consumption in Australia
Most electricity comes from the national grid and is generally produced by coal-powered plants – which produce the largest amount of greenhouse gases. These plants contribute significantly to global warming.
Australia’s energy sector was the largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Even with all the solar and other renewable energy we use, Australians are one of the highest per-capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world, and it is energy used in Australian households that is responsible for the biggest amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
Approximately one fifth of Australia’s total emissions come from homes, the equivalent of 15 tonnes per household per year. This includes everyday transportation and household waste which goes to landfill. (Source of statistics: Australian Greenhouse Office)
Australians can reduce their electricity related emissions by implementing smart home solutions, energy efficiency strategies and using renewable energy sources – and they are all closely related.
Smart homes and home automation
Read our guide to smart homes and learn how home automation can boost the energy efficiency of your house!
Home energy ratings
Appliances have energy ratings (see below for more about that). You may also want to discover how homes have energy ratings, too. See our home energy ratings page.
Save on solar power systems with energy efficiency
Even if you’re only partially powering your home with solar panels, greater energy efficiency means that solar power will contribute a greater amount of your electricity needs, reducing your power bills even further and maximising returns from feed-in tariffs.
One of the easiest methods to significantly lower the cost of a solar power system, or to raise the total proportion of electricity that solar power supplies in your home, is to reduce energy consumption. Here’s an example:
60 watt incandescent light globe x 8 hours a day = 480 watt hours
15 watt CFL bulb x 8 hours a day = 120 watt hours
700 lumen LED bulb x 8 hours a day = 64 – 96 watt hours
You can reduce the amount of electricity your solar power system needs to produce by 360 watt hours per day, the equivalent of an 80 watt solar panel, just by replacing one incandescent light globe with a similar intensity energy-efficient CFL. This can be done without sacrificing comfort or convenience. If you pick LED, the energy savings are considerably greater. The ban of new incandescent light bulbs in Australia from 2009 was projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 800,000 tonnes, or 0.14% annually. The shift to CFL and LED lights has been a fantastic step in the right direction.
Swapping out high-energy using appliances for energy efficient alternatives is a great way to reduce your daily energy consumption.
The greatest strategy to cut your energy costs while minimising your environmental impact is to practice energy efficiency.
Certain electrical equipment, including fridges, dryers, and washing machines, must now have energy ratings in Australia. The star system is used and is an easy visual way to quickly compare appliances. The more stars, the more energy/gas/water efficient the appliance is. If you are comparing two appliances with the same stars, look at the numbers on the energy rating label. The lower the numbers, the more energy and/or money you save.
Electrical appliances are thought to account for approximately 40% of a household’s energy use. Remember to turn off appliances at the power outlet to reduce parasitic draw (the small amount of electricity used when your appliance is on standby) and save up to 10% on energy costs. The average Australian home uses 12 tonnes of energy per year. Read more energy-saving advice.
Additional details on particular appliance types
An energy star label is now attached to all white goods. The worldwide benchmark for items that save energy is the energy star rating system. Australia has its own energy star rating system which is governed by The Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program. This program is a joint initiative by the Australian and New Zealand governments.
Purchasing energy-efficient white goods often don’t cost you anything extra but, in other circumstances, higher energy-efficient appliances might be a more expensive option and should be considered a long-term investment. An energy-efficient refrigerator, for instance, may cost more, but the money you will save on energy costs will quickly offset that cost.
A dishwasher that uses less energy has an energy rating of 3.5 stars or higher. Each star helps you conserve water and cut your operating costs by about 30% annually. It is advised to seek appliances with energy efficiency features like half-load options and an economy mode when buying a new dishwasher. Buy a dishwasher only for your particular demands if you want to maximise efficiency.
Washers and dryers
A washing machine that is effective has ratings of at least 3.5 stars for energy and 4 stars for water. You can save 21,000 litres of water a year and a lot of money on your water bills with a five star water rating. A dryer needs at least two stars. You may save your operating costs for washing machines by 25% during their lifespan and for dryers by 15%.
Look for a washing machine with energy-efficient settings when you buy a new one. Try utilising the cold water cycle; it can cut your operating costs in half, and with improvements to laundry detergents, it can work just as well as hot water. Top-loading machines consume half as much energy as front-loading ones. Instead of using the dryer, hang your clothing, towels, and sheets outside to dry. By making these small changes, you can lower your energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Hot water systems
When buying a gas booster or a gas hot-water system, aim for one with a 5-star rating – it can save you 15% on running costs. Big households should aim for standard storage systems, whereas smaller households should aim for continuous-flow heated water systems.
Alternatively, consider the most energy efficient options – install a solar hot water system or a heat pump. Solar hot water and heat pumps are now even more economical thanks to incentives such as the Federal government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (STC Program). To read more about solar hot water, visit our solar hot water-how it works page. To find out what incentives are available in your state, read our Rebates and Incentives page.
Tip: For maximum energy efficiency and water conservation, showers should be kept under 4 minutes.
Fridges and freezers
Energy efficient fridges have 4-star ratings. A small chest freezer should have at least 3.5 stars. A regular upright freezer should have 4.5 stars. When you buy a new fridge, we recommend that you research what size is right for you. Choose energy efficiency options like thermostat control and door alarms.
Regular coil cleaning is a good idea, and you should make sure there is enough space between the wall and the coils so that air may circulate freely. Old fridges are incredibly inefficient and significantly raise your energy costs. Your savings from purchasing a new, energy-efficient fridge will more than equal the cost of maintaining an older, inefficient refrigerator.
Lighting can account for approximately 10% of a household’s greenhouse gas emissions. Halogen lights and incandescent use up an enormous amount of energy Fluorescent light bulbs are much more energy efficient. They use 20% of the power that halogen globes do, while lasting eight times longer. LED lights are the smartest switch you can make today, with many states offering FREE upgrades!
Swapping your old globes for LED lights can save you 80% on lighting bills.
A confusing aspect of switching to LED can be in relation to what type to buy as instead of watts, they are usually rated in “lumens”. The following chart shows watts vs. lumens.
Tips: Use dimmer switches where possible. Timers and sensors are recommended for outdoor lights. Switching off the lights when you are not home will also reduce your electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
Gas heaters and air conditioning systems also come with energy ratings. An increase of just one star on a gas energy rating will save you 10% on running costs. Also, keeping doors shut, blinds drawn and locating the heating system away from windows will help conserve the heat in a house. Setting the thermostat between 18 and 20 degrees will also save energy as simply reducing the temperature by 1 degree can save up to 10% of running costs.
Heating your home at night is extremely inefficient. Insulating your home and wearing warmer clothing the house will automatically reduce energy bills and help the environment. Heat is wasted when a house is not properly insulated. For example, 80% to 90% of heat is lost through your ceiling. Make sure your windows have close-fitting curtains to help contain the heat inside a home and prevent heat loss by 40%. Draughts are also responsible for heat loss, so it is recommended that draught seals be put at the bottom of doors, windows be properly sealed and any gaps fixed.
It is recommended that you buy air conditioners with at least 4.5 stars and that you opt for fans and evaporative coolers which use 1/10th of the power. Cranking up the air conditioning on a hot day puts an enormous huge strain on the power grid, not to mention the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. When everyone uses their air conditioner at the same time, it can cause widespread power failure. This is what happened in New York in 2003; it was the largest blackout in North American history and cost the country billions of dollars. Similar blackouts are now also starting to occur in Australia, with the most recent widespread blackout seen in Adelaide in 2016.
There are other ways to keep your home cool: as summer heat comes through unprotected windows, external shades can help reduce heat through windows by 70%. Insulation and fans can keep the heat out and cut down on air-conditioning.
Energy efficiency can be applied right throughout your home: your lights, air conditioner, stove and appliances can all be made to optimise your efficiency and lower your carbon footprint.
Engage a specialist to improve energy efficiency
There are many easy actions you can take to reduce energy use, whether you are a business, a person working from home, or a householder interested in maximising energy efficiency in your environment. No matter how little or much you now use, think about cutting back on your energy, water use, and rubbish production from daily activities.
Whether you’re looking to replace your hot water system, replace your lighting, or install a solar PV system, we can connect you with trusted local solar installers in Melbourne who will provide you with up to 3 FREE quotes! Click this link and follow the prompts to receive your free quotes. The Solar Quotes quiz also covers other renewables, so get clicking today!
Updated: September 2022