In NSW, most electricity comes from burning fossil fuels (such as coal), which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
Households generate almost one-fifth of Australia's greenhouse gases through everyday activities, energy use, transport and the decay of household waste in landfills. The main greenhouse gases generated by human activity are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and on average more than 15 tonnes of these gases are produced per household each year.
Every household can save energy by taking simple action around the home. By using less energy you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also save money on energy bills!
The Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that an average family can save three or more tonnes of greenhouse gases and hundreds of dollars a year through adopting measures such as: converting existing household fixtures to more efficient ones, adding new fixtures, using energy efficient appliances, and simply changing everyday habits.
The Australian Greenhouse Office website has detailed information on how to reduce your energy consumption in the following areas:
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in rooms where the light is on for long periods.
- Make good use of natural light, particularly from north facing windows.
- Do not leave outdoor lights on all night or during the day - consider using timers or sensors.
- Keep lights and fittings clean, dusty or dirty globes and fittings can reduce light output by up to 50 per cent.
- Turn off unnecessary lights.
Refrigerators and Freezers
- When purchasing a new fridge or freezer, look for energy rating labels which contain an energy star rating; the more stars on the label, the more efficient the appliance and less energy it uses.
- Choose an appliance that meets your needs; there is no point having an energy efficient fridge that is double the size you require, as this wastes energy.
- Check fridge seals and replace if necessary; this reduces the amount of energy your fridge needs to expend trying to keep cool.
- Cool hot food before placing it in the fridge; this reduces the amount of energy produced by the fridge in working to cool hot items. Also, put cold items back in the fridge as soon as possible as recooling something from room temperature uses a lot of energy.
- Locate fridges and freezers in cool spots out of the sun and away from ovens.
- Only use a second fridge when you expect a lot of guests, rather than leaving it on continuously.
Clothes Washing and Drying
- Ensure the machine is full before washing a load or adjust the load dial to the appropriate level; this will reduce energy consumption.
- Wash with cold water.
- Don't waste detergent, as greenhouse gases are used to manufacture detergent.
- Dry your clothes on a line as much as possible; this uses no energy at all.
- Clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer after drying each load.
- When purchasing a new fridge or freezer, look for energy rating labels which contain an energy star rating. The more stars on the label, the more efficient the appliance and less energy it uses. These star ratings can be found on refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air-conditioners, gas heaters, clothes dryers and washing machines.
- Turn your TV off at the powerpoint if you will be away for a long time. Leaving TVs on standby mode costs about $70 per year.
- Fit a timer switch to your pool filter.
- Use a computer which has an energy saving mode, or a laptop, both of which save 80-90 per cent on electricity.
Home Heating and Cooling
- When purchasing a cooling appliance, look for energy rating labels which contain an energy star rating. The more stars on the label, the more efficient the appliance and less energy is uses.
- External shading is the best way to prevent summer heat gain through windows. Shade 'hot' windows in summer with eaves, awnings, shutters or trees, to reduce heat absorption by up to 80 per cent.
- Don't overheat. Every one-degree increase in temperature is a 10 per cent increase in heating bills and emissions.
- Minimise heat loss through poor insulation by repairing faulty door seals, hanging curtains that sit close to the window frames and laying rugs on bare floors. Install draught seals and weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Use ceiling fans or portable fans instead of air-conditioning.
- Dress appropriately for the weather; put on a jumper before you turn on the heater.
- Don't over-heat or over-cool, as this will use more energy.
- Switch off heating or cooling, rather than leaving it on low when you go out.
- Choose an energy efficient heater such as solar, heat pump or natural gas that matches your hot water needs.
- Showers are the biggest user of hot water in your home. Install a AAA rated showerhead, or fit a flow restricting valve to existing shower heads, to reduce water consumption. These devices can save up to $20 per person per year.
- Fix dripping taps. A tap dripping 45 times per minute wastes around 1000 litres of hot water a month, which costs over $25 per year.
- Insulate your hot water tank to prevent heat loss.
- Ensure exposed hot water pipes are well insulated, with insulation at least 1mm thick.
- Make sure you use the lid on the saucepan when boiling to reduce the amount of heat lost and therefore the amount of energy required to reach boiling point.
- Fill the kettle with cold water. There is no reason to use energy by filling it with hot water and then using more energy to boil it.
- Use energy efficient cooking methods - minimise grilling, simmer instead of boiling and use the microwave wherever possible.
- For maximum efficiency, use pots with flat bases that match the size of the element.
Food, Garden and Paper
- Ensure that your compost heap has plenty of fresh air: if it smells, it does not have enough fresh air and will be producing greenhouse gases.
- Plant deciduous trees along the west or east side of your house. They will create shade to cool your home in summer, yet will allow sunlight to penetrate and warm the house during winter.
- Reduce mower fuel consumption by using a hand mower, mowing less often or choosing a more fuel-efficient machine.
- Greenhouse gases are used to produce packaging so refuse excess packaging and paper, reduce the amount of waste you produce by composting or starting a worm farm, reuse containers and clothing and recycle as much as you can.
Renewable or 'green' electricity such as power from wind and solar generation, can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas produced. Ask your electricity provider about your options for purchasing green electricity, or go to www.greenelectricitywatch.org.au .
- Walk to the shops instead of using the car.
- Catch public transport instead of taking the car.
- Car pool to work.
- Remove unnecessary weight from your car, as excess weight creates more greenhouse gas.
- Ensure your tyres have maximum recommended air pressure so they roll more easily: this will reduce greenhouse gases each year and extend tyre life.
- Choose a less polluting car: for more information go to www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au
Building and Renovating
For further information on building and renovating, go to the energy efficiency fact sheet on the website or visit www.yourhome.gov.au
For Further Information
For more information on building an Energy Smart Home and choosing Energy Smart Products, visit the Energy Smart Information Centre website or contact the Centre on 1300 138 638.