Saving energy this winter | Otago Daily Times News Online

With rising food and fuel prices hitting Kiwis in the back pocket, many are looking for ways to save money in their weekly budget.

Energy costs are one area that can be reduced, but with winter approaching, compromising on health and comfort is not an option.

Gareth Gretton, Senior Advisor to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), says there are many things we can do to reduce energy consumption and save on our electricity bills.

“About a third of the energy used by an average household comes from hot water. So one of the easiest ways to cut your energy bill is to reduce the hot water you don’t need. needed, freeing up more money for keeping warm and for other things.”

Here are EECA’s top money-saving tips.

1. Machine wash cold

Unless you have a particularly dirty load, use a cold water wash cycle when washing clothes. Modern washing machines and detergents clean well using cold water and this change could save you around $85 a year.

2. Shorten your showers

A 15-minute shower costs about $1, which means a five-minute shower only costs about 33 cents. Reducing shower time could save a family of four up to $900 a year.

3. Check the flow of your shower

“If your shower fills a 10-litre bucket in less than a minute, that’s a waste of water,” says Mr Gretton. “Replacing your shower head with one with a more efficient flow of nine liters per minute or less could significantly reduce your hot water consumption. Even a reduction in flow of 1 liter per minute could save a household of about four $80 a year.”

4. Fix dripping faucets

Dripping hot water faucets can cost you hundreds of dollars a year, while a new washing machine will only cost a few dollars.

5. Fill the dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, wait until it’s fully loaded to run it and put it on the “eco” wash setting if available. If you rinse your dishes before loading the dishwater, use cold water.

6. Insulate and protect from drafts

Both help to minimize heating bills. Check to see if you qualify for insulation grants through EECA’s Warmer Kiwi Homes program. Inspect your doors and windows for drafts on a cold, windy day, then visit your hardware store to get the right products to seal the gaps.

7. Choose efficient heating

“When it comes time to replace your heating, consider installing a heat pump if you don’t already have one,” says Gretton. “They are an excellent choice for large rooms, while electric resistance heaters are suitable for smaller rooms.”

The EECA recommends heating only the parts you need. For a healthy living environment, set your radiator thermostat between 18 degC and 20 degC. If you have elderly people at home, it may need to be a bit higher.

8. Turn off the heat pump when you don’t need it

Many of us have heard that leaving a heat pump on is more efficient, but that’s not the case unless your home is super insulated, says Gretton. “Leaving your heat pump running 24/7 will use more energy than heating only when you need it.”

9. Trap the heat in your home

When it starts to get cooler in the evening, close your doors and draw your curtains.

10. Replace old downlights with modern ones

Old fashioned downlights consume electricity. In fact, the EECA calculates that 20 old-fashioned 100W downlights can cost more than running a radiator or heat pump.

11. Switch to LEDs

Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs use 85% less energy and last longer. Each incandescent bulb you replace with an LED can save you between $100 and $300 over its lifetime (depending on the wattage of the bulb you are replacing). Also, most LED bulbs only cost $3 to $10.

12. Work smarter

If you work from home, use a smaller room as a home office if possible, as this will be more efficient for heating.

Mr Gretton says that with more people staying and working from home, it is important to know how to save energy at home.

“Over the past two years, for example, sales of computer monitors have exploded: 396,779 were sold last year, compared to 112,608 in 2015.

The good news is that thanks to the EECA’s product regulation program ensuring that new devices in New Zealand meet minimum energy performance standards, the average annual energy consumption of computer monitors has actually decreased over the during the same period.

Similarly, the average annual energy consumption of refrigerators/freezers has been halved.

On the other hand, TVs are getting bigger and bigger. Average screen size has increased from 37.9 inches to 48.5 inches since 2013, and average power consumption has risen accordingly, from 260 kWh per year to 318 kWh.

“So ask yourself if you really need that big screen TV and how often you turn it on.”

Further advice for efficient use of electricity can be found at genless.govt.nz.

“It’s not just about saving money – saving energy also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from our households, which is important for tackling climate change.”

“Electricity generation accounts for just over 5% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s roughly the equivalent of 1.4 million cars petrol.”

“Reducing the load on the network avoids more emissions and every little bit counts.”

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