Whether you want to save money on your power bills or reduce your carbon footprint, making your home more energy efficient is always a good idea. And the best way to determine how energy efficient your home is is to carry out a home energy audit.
While a commercial electrician will be able to identify any flaws in your electrical system that are increasing your power usage, there’s plenty you can do around the home to minimise power usage.
Find out your energy usage
The first step in assessing your home’s energy efficiency is to determine how much power you are using and compare that to similar sized properties in your area.
Have a look at your past 12 months’ worth of electricity bills and find the average daily usage in kilowatts per hour (KWh). Once you know your seasonal averages for daily power usage, you can visit the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy to compare your averages to the average usage in your area. Any usage that is 10 KWh above the average for your area means that your home will likely benefit from an energy audit.
Identify the heavy usage appliances
Energy inefficient appliances can be major contributors to hefty power bills. Some common heavy usage appliances include old fridges and freezers, washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, portable oil and fan heaters and pool filters. Smart meters can help you to identify which of your appliances are using the most electricity.
If you don’t have a smart meter, you can get a general idea how much energy an appliance is using by turning off everything except that appliance and seeing how quickly the power meter rotates. The faster the meter turns, the more power is being used.
Replace high-usage appliances
Once you know which appliances are using the most electricity, you could consider replacing them with newer, more energy-efficient models.
Alternatively, you could consider reducing or phasing out your reliance on that appliance. For example, using a clothesline to dry your clothes instead of a dryer, or washing your dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.
Optimise your lighting
There is plenty you can do to make sure your lighting isn’t using more power than necessary. To start with, you should replace all inefficient halogen lights with energy efficient LED lighting.
If you have outdoor lighting for aesthetic or security purposes, make sure these lights are on timers or motion sensors so they aren’t running more than they need to.
Optimise your heating/cooling
HVAC systems are notorious for using huge amounts of power. But a properly optimised and maintained system will run more efficiently and use less power. Make sure you get your heating and cooling system serviced regularly to ensure it’s running at peak efficiency.
You should consider upgrading any system older that’s more than ten years old. You should also ensure you have a system with a programmable thermostat so you are better able to control the temperature.
Energy saving best practice tips
There’s a heap of other little things you can do around the house to minimise your power usage. While some of these tips may seem minor, it’s worth remembering that any little changes will start to add up over the course of a year.
- Use cut-off or standby switches: Attach cut-off or standby switches to any appliance that continues using power when not in use.
- Ensure fridges/freezers are well situated: These appliances will use less power when situated in cool, well shaded and well ventilated areas.
- Weather-proof windows and doors: This means blocking out the sun in summer and stopping draughts (in summer and winter). Double glazing is great for reducing thermal transfer through windows. Otherwise, strategic use of curtains and blinds will also help to reduce thermal transfer through windows.
- Only heat/cool the necessary areas: Heating or cooling rooms that you’re not using is a huge waste of power and money.
- Dress for the season: You can reduce your reliance on your HVAC system by dressing warmly in the house during winter and going for shorts and a t-shirt in summer.
Whether you’re serious about reducing your environmental impact or reducing your power bills, a home energy audit can help you identify ways to reduce your power usage. Ideally, you should carry out an energy audit every 12 months to ensure that you are optimising your power usage.