Eco-friendly tips for Winter energy saving
Hot showers, heaters on full, cooking stews and soups - Winter’s a time we often find our power bill soaring. But saving energy around the home isn’t just good for the wallet, it’s also good for the planet because it lets us conserve valuable natural resources.
There are lots of ways to keep your energy consumption down during these chilly months, and we take our hat off to Meridian Energy for helping with these great tips.
With shorter daylight hours, we have lights on more frequently in Winter, but switching off lights when we don’t need them is a great place to start saving energy. If you’re building a new home or renovating your current place, consider lighting that achieves the purpose of the room it’s in, rather than just flooding the whole space. For example, in an office you might want to direct light onto a desk – and in the kitchen it might be focused on a counter top. Known as task lighting, it makes your use of lights more efficient.
You might also consider LED lighting to make energy and cost savings, because they use far less energy than incandescent bulbs and last a lot longer. They’re also free from toxins like mercury that can be found in compact fluorescent bulbs.
For greatest efficiency, Meridian recommends using ceiling button LEDs or LED wall lights if you’re retrofitting.
And there are other tricks to make the most of home lighting besides the type of bulb. Using light paint colours and reflective surfaces, as well as moving furniture to free up space, help lighting make more impact.
The bathroom and laundry are the best places to start when you’re looking for energy savings by reducing hot water use. Low flow showerheads will help cut down your use, as will using the cold water setting on your washing machine. You can also try to take showers instead of baths, and make your showers on the shorter side.
Hot water cylinder wraps for your cylinder and pipes are a great way to insulate your hot water heater and cut standby heat loss. According to Smarter Homes, one of these wraps could save up to a kilowatt hour a day, so it could pay for itself within a year.
You might also want to lower your hot water cylinder temperature to 60 degrees – any lower could mean harmful bacteria starts to grow in it. By doing this you also help cut standby loss. And give the overflow pipe a look to make sure it’s not dripping. If it is leaking, it’s likely overheating or the pressure is too high.
Your home heating will only be effective if heat is trapped in the room. To do that you’ll need to insulate gaps and glass and draught proof your doors. Double glazing windows is one option, but can be costly. An alternative is a window film kit for cutting heat loss. And curtains that keep the room warm are a valuable investment.
To insulate doors, cover the gap at the bottom with a sweep, a door sausage or a spongy weather strip.
There are big savings to be made by using energy efficient appliances and being wise about how you use them. Fridges and freezers are the main contributors to the household power bill – in general fridges should be set to between 3-5 degrees and the freezer to between -15 and -18 degrees. Check these appliances regularly to see if their seals need replacing.
To calculate how much power an appliance is using, you can follow this formula once you check the appliance to see the marked watt value:
Watts of your appliance x hours used per day ÷ 1000 = daily kilowatt per hour usage. Then multiply the kilowatt per hour usage by your cost per kilowatt per hour of use.
Measure and monitor
The formula above is just one way to work out your home energy use. One of the simplest is analysing what is using most power and what you do around the house that uses the most power. Other ways of measuring include consumption monitors and services.
MyMeridian is an example of a web-based service that tracks energy consumption and even gives you alerts and budget limits. Meters are another way to control how much energy you use. Most hardware stores stock them and they measure specific appliances. Other monitors track energy consumption throughout the house around the clock.
Timers and sensors
It can be hard to remember to switch off lights and appliances when they don’t need to be on, and that’s where timers and sensors can help.
Even leaving appliances in standby power mode adds to your use. Meridian advises grouping appliances and using one timer for the whole group. A smart timer will sense when the appliance using the most power is switched off and then power down the others. It’s best to start using these where you know power use is highest.
Timers let you schedule when you want your appliances powered off, and can be used inside as well as outdoors.
Another useful tool is a motion sensor, which allows lights to come on only when movement is detected, or when it gets dark.
If you want to read Meridian’s entire set of home energy saving tips, click here.