Take Action

Knowing what to do and where to start can be confusing, so we’ve done the research to simplify the process and help you better understand what actions you can take around the home.

No matter where you live, or what your budget, there are always opportunities to save on electricity use. Taking action will improve the comfort of your home, help you save money on energy bills and reduce your impact on our environment.

Click on the icons below to find out more about reducing your electricity use and making your own.

Appliances and Cooking

Appliances and cooking equipment account for approximately 30% of the average home’s energy consumption. Making smart choices when you purchase, use and maintain your appliances will help you save energy and money.

5 Free and Easy Tips
  1. Use the sun and wind to dry clothes instead of an electric dryer.
  2. Clean or replace any damaged fridge, freezer and oven seals.
  3. Only fill your kettle and pots with as much water as you need, and keep the lids on.
  4. Need background noise when you’re cooking? Listen to a radio rather than the TV.
  5. Wait until you have a full load to run your dishwasher, washing machine or clothes dryer.
Clean Fridge Coils

Keep coils at the back of your fridge free of dust. The are designed to release heat, so any build up of dust on these coils will make your fridge work harder and longer to release this heat and stay cool.

The coils in newer fridges may be covered, so ensure there is adequate room around the fridge to assist with ventilation and the release of heat.

Avoid Standby Power

Standby power can account for around 10% of your energy bill.

Standby power is the energy drawn by your appliances when they’re not in use, so make sure you turn appliances off at the switch when not in use. If your power points are hard to reach then you can get a remote switch to ensure that they get turned off.

Switch Off Extra Fridge

If you have a second or third fridge that is only used occasionally, then it is better to turn it off for most of the year and only turn it back on as needed.

Leaving on an older inefficient fridge throughout the year could be costing you over $200 per annum.

Purchase Efficient Appliances

Energy Rating labels are mandatory for new appliances and are managed by an independent government body that exists to help you compare the energy efficiency and running costs of new appliances. The energy rating label will help you understand the running cost of an appliance, providing you with a more accurate idea of its whole of life cost, in two ways:

  1. The star rating lets you know how energy efficient an appliance is relative to other models of the same size.
  2. The annual energy consumption figure lets you know how much electricity a model uses.

The more stars an energy rating label has, the less energy it will use and the more money you will save. Every extra star will save you 30% on dishwashers, 25% on washing machines and dryers, and 20% on TVs and fridges when it comes to running costs. 

Using a 5-star, two door fridge would save you an estimated $474 over 10 years when compared with a 3-star model.

To compare the energy efficiency of more appliances, visit the Energy Rating Calculator. Incentives may be available for upgrading certain appliances through the Victorian Energy Saver program. Follow the link below to see what appliances are offered and if there is an accredited provided servicing your area.

 

Find Funding Options

For more information on getting the most out of your appliances, head to Sustainability Victoria’s website and check out their comparison of hot water systems.

Lighting

Lighting accounts for approximately 6% of the average home’s energy consumption, but this might be significantly more if your home has older lighting technology. The efficiency of lighting technology has come a long way, so check out the tips below and make sure you’re up to date.

3 Bright Ideas
  1. Utilise natural light whenever possible.
  2. Turn off lights when not in use.
  3. Light-coloured interior surfaces reflect more light and reduce the need for artificial light.
Skylights

Skylights can help bring natural light into your home, but it is essential they are designed correctly to avoid excessive heat loss or gain.

Your skylight should be appropriately sized, the window double glazed, and the frame well-insulated. Tubular skylights are often more effective for avoiding excessive heat loss or gain than traditional skylights.

 

Find Skylight Installers

LED Lighting

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent and halogen lamps. Although they are more expensive to purchase, they have a longer lifespan making them more cost-efficient. An LED light traditionally lasts for over 20,000 hours compared to 6–15,000 hours for a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and 2–4,000 hours for a halogen lamp.

Make sure you’re considering the lifetime costs of lighting. Replacing one 500 lumen halogen light with an LED light would cost you approximately $10 and save you $60 over 10 years.

When choosing a replacement light it’s important to consider their lumens rather than watts. Lumens are a measure of the light produced by a lamp. The below table compares the typical power (watts) required by different bulbs to achieve the same amount of light (lumens).

Light Output (lumens) Incandescent Halogen CFL LED
500 40 watts 28 watts 7-9 watts 5-8 watts
1500 100 watts 70 watts 19-23 watts 15-23 watts

Table shared from Energy Rating Light Bulb Buyers Guide.

For help identifying your current lighting and calculating the savings from new energy efficient alternatives, download the Australian Government’s Light Bulb Saver app. Incentives may be available through the Victorian Energy Saver program. Follow the link below to see if there is an accredited provider servicing your area. 

 

Find LED Lighting Installers     Find Funding Options

Hot Water

Water heating is the second largest source of energy consumption in Australian households. It accounts for just over 20% of our overall usage. About half is used in the bathroom, a third in the laundry and the rest in the kitchen.

5 Water Wise Ways

The less hot water you use, the less you need to make. Changing our behaviour is a simple way to save on water, energy and money.

  1. Take shorter showers and use a timer to help you keep track.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water – this can reduce your machines energy usage by 80%.
  3. Fix leaking taps.
  4. Insulate your hot water pipes.
  5. Purchase water efficient appliances.
Water Efficient Showers and Taps

Water efficient shower heads and taps will save you money through reduced water and energy use. A reduction in hot water use means less energy is required for heating your water.

You can compare the efficiency of taps and shower heads using the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS). WELS products will have a water rating label with stars to signify the products water efficiency and a figure for their rate of water consumption in litres per minute. Every litre per minute difference for shower heads will save a typical family of four almost 12,000 litres of water per year. 

Unsure how efficient your current showers and taps are?

Place a bucket under your tap or shower and run it for a minute to determine the litres per minute.

 

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Solar Hot Water

If your hot water system is over 10 years old then it is time to consider a more efficient replacement. There are four main types of hot water systems in Australia:

  1. Electric systems (instantaneous or storage) are the most energy intensive and expensive to run.
  2. Gas systems (instantaneous or storage) are more efficient, however they still rely on fossil fuels as an energy source.
  3. Solar Hot Water systems rely mostly on renewable sources of energy.
  4. Heat Pump systems rely mostly on renewable sources of energy.

There are two main types of solar hot water systems and both include an electric or gas booster for periods of cold or cloudy weather.

  1.  Split Systems – water is pumped between a solar collector (panels or tubes) on the roof and a storage tank at ground level.
  2. Closed-Coupled Systems – the solar collector (panels or tubes) and storage tank a both located on the roof and the water circulates under mains pressure.

Solar hot water systems have a high upfront cost, but a natural gas boosted system is currently the cheapest and most environmentally friendly to run. They can provide up to 90% of your domestic hot water needs, and reduce your power bills by 50–85% depending on your existing system. Realising these benefits however, is dependent on appropriate sizing, installation and usage of the system. Systems can rely almost entirely on their booster and provide minimal energy consumption savings if not installed or managed appropriately. Speak to your local installer to find out if a solar hot water system is right for you.

The Victorian Energy Upgrades program, Small-Scale Technology Certificates and Solar Homes program are all providing financial incentives for solar hot water systems. Follow the funding options link below to find out more.

 

Find Solar Hot Water Installers     Find Funding Options

 

Hot Water Heat Pumps

If your hot water system is over 10 years old then it is time to consider a more efficient replacement. There are four main types of hot water systems in Australia:

  1. Electric systems (instantaneous or storage) are the most energy intensive and expensive to run.
  2. Gas systems (instantaneous or storage) are more efficient, however they still rely on fossil fuels as an energy source.
  3. Solar Hot Water systems rely mostly on renewable sources of energy.
  4. Heat Pump systems rely mostly on renewable sources of energy.

Heat pumps capture heat from the surrounding air to heat water in a storage tank. It’s the same principle as an air-conditioner, except it heats water instead of air. They are an extremely efficient system with low running costs, but they typically have a higher upfront cost. Heat pumps can reduce hot water running costs by up to 45-65% depending on your existing system. Hot water heat pumps have a few key benefits:

  • They free up space on your roof for solar panels.
  • They do not require direct sunlight.
  • They can be powered with renewable electricity.

The Victorian Energy Upgrades program, Small-Scale Technology Certificates and Solar Homes package are all providing financial incentives for hot water heat pumps. Follow the funding options link below to find out more. 

 

Find Heat Pump Installers     Find Funding Options

 

For more information on the different types of hot water systems and their running costs, head to Sustainability Victoria’s website and check out their comparison of hot water systems.

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling can make up around 40% of your home’s total energy costs. That’s almost half! So it’s important to ensure you’re doing this efficiently. A well designed home shouldn’t need much heating and cooling. Check out the actions below for tips on how to ensure your home is heating and cooling itself as efficiently as possible.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are very cost effective. They circulate cool air, creating a breeze that helps cool people down. When a cool change comes in, fans are great for flushing out any heat that has built up in the house. They can cost as little as $0.02 per hour to run, compared to up to $0.50 per hour for some reverse cycle air conditioners.

You should always prioritise using the fan before turning on your air-conditioner – even if it’s a pedestal fan.

 

Find Ceiling Fan Installers

Curtains, Blinds and External Shading

Windows play an important role in the loss and gain of heat in your home, so it’s important they are managed appropriately to reduce heat gain in summer and avoid heat loss in winter. Curtains, blinds and external shading structures are an easy retrofit to enhance the efficiency of windows.

Summer Cooling

Preventing the sun from hitting your windows directly during summer is the most effective way to avoid unwanted heat gain. The Australian Government’s ‘Your Home’ website notes that exposed glass is often the largest source of heat gain in the home, but effective shading can reduce this by 90%. Blinds and curtains are less effective than shading, but can still reduce heat gain if they are reflective or have a white surface that is effective in reflecting solar heat.

Your north, east and west windows should be shaded from direct sun during the day, while your southern windows should be used for letting in cool summer breezes at evening time. Fixed shading devices can be designed to avoid direct sunlight in summer (when the sun is high) and allow direct sunlight in during winter (when the sun is low). Alternatively, adjustable shading can be installed or deciduous plantings used to let the light in during winter and provide shade in summer.

Winter Heating

It is important to let the low winter sun in to heat your home during the day, however windows are also a significant source of heat loss. Close fitting curtains are an effective method for reducing heat loss through windows during cold winter days and nights. They should be fitted closely to the top and sides of windows to avoid warm air being cooled against the window.

 

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Draught Proofing

If you add all the gaps in the average home it can equate to a hole the size of a basketball! That’s a lot of air moving from outside in and from inside out!

According to Sustainability Victoria 9 out of 10 homes in Victoria have unwanted draughts. Have you checked your home to ensure that you have blocked draughts?

Here is a basic guide to places you can look for blockable gaps. Many draughts can be blocked as a DIY job, or you can get professionals in to help. Head to Sustainability Victoria’s website for further details on draught-proofing your home.

 

Find Draught Proofing Providers

 

Double Glazed Windows

Windows play an important role in the loss and gain of heat in your home. The Australian Window Association (AWA) estimates up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost through windows and up to 87% of its heat gained through windows. Installing or improving the efficiency of your windows will have a positive impact on your bills and the environment.

The two key components that will impact the energy efficiency of your window:

  1. The number of panes a window has. Single pane or single glazed windows are extremely inefficient, so any new windows should be double or triple glazed.
  2. The type of window frame. Window frames can be a significant source of heat loss and gain, so make you choose a frame with good insulative properties (e.g. timber, uPVC).

If you’re looking to replace existing windows or install new ones, look out for the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS). Similar to Energy Rating labels, WERS gives a star rating for a window’s energy performance. This makes it easier to compare different windows and decide which is best for your needs. WERS rates windows on a scale on 0 to 10 stars – the more stars, the better.

Windows can also be retrofitted with secondary glazing or a clear film, to improve their efficiency. 

 

 Find Double Glazed Window Installers

Insulation

Insulation is the most effective way to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. A poorly insulated home in winter can lose up to 35% of its heat through the ceilings, 25% through walls and 20% through suspended floors. This is also experienced with heat gain in summer.

Insulations works by either trapping air using bulk insulation, or by reflecting heat using foil insulation. The effectiveness of each product is measured with an R value. R values measure the insulations resistance to heat flow. The higher the R value, the better the product will insulate your home. A well-insulated home can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 50%!

If you have insulation, but it’s getting old, it might be time top it up. A good way to find out is to check the height of your existing ceiling insulation. If it’s less than 50mm thick it should be topped up.

Installing insulation can be dangerous, so get some advice from a professional or if you intend to install it yourself, head to Sustainability Victoria’s website for preparation and safety tips.

 

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Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner

Heating and cooling options vary significantly for households depending on your need to heat and cool a whole house (central heating) or individual rooms (space heating). Being able to limit your heating and cooling to individual rooms or spaces is more efficient than heating your entire home, therefore this website focuses on split system reverse cycle air conditioners. Reverse cycle air conditioners are able to both heat and cool a space, they can be energy efficient (look for a high Energy Star Rating), and they can be powered by renewable sources.

If you have solar power on your roof and run heating and cooling during the day then using your reverse cycle air conditioner could mean that you heat and cool your home at a low to zero cost. If your home is well insulated and draught proofed you could run the system on a timer to ensure that it operates during daylight hours. Then your insulation and draught proofing will keep that lovely warm or cold air inside where you need it!

Five tips to get the most out of your system

  • Cool to 24-27 degrees in summer
  • Heat to 18-20 degrees in winter
  • Only heat and cool the areas you need
  • Dress appropriately for the weather – put a jumper on before turning the heating up
  • Clean the air filters regularly

Every degree higher in summer and lower in winter will increase running costs by approximately 10%!

Incentives may be available through the Victorian Energy Saver program. Follow the link below to see if there is an accredited provider servicing your area.

 

 Find Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner Installers    Find Funding Options

Powering Your Home

Once you’re using electricity as efficiently as possible, it’s time to consider how you power your home.

Solar Panels

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems capture energy from the sun and convert it for use in your home.  By generating your own electricity, you purchase less from your retailer – meaning money in your pocket rather than theirs!

In Victoria a typical house consumes an average of 12 kilowatt (kW) hours of electricity per day. A 1.5 – 3 kW solar PV system can generate around 45–90% of the average household’s demand, though the amount generated by the system varies throughout the year as the amount of daily sunshine changes.

The amount of the solar generated electricity used in your home will depend on the size of your solar system, how much electricity you use and when you use it. The higher your daytime consumption, the higher amount of solar generated electricity you will use. Typically around 30 to 50% of the electricity generated through a solar system is consumed in the home and 70 to 50% is exported to the grid (Sustainability Victoria, December 2018).

Is now the right time to go solar?

There are currently 3 separate financial incentives for residents looking to install solar PV. Head to our Funding Options page for further details.

  1. The Victorian Government is providing eligible households with a 50% rebate on the cost of an average 4kW solar PV system, up to $2,225.
  2. The Federal Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme provides a financial incentive for solar PV systems based on the amount of electricity they are expected to generate between now and 2030.
  3. A solar feed-in tariff (FiT) is paid to you by your retailer for excess electricity generated and fed back into the grid.

Find Solar Panel Installers    Find Funding Options

 

Energy Storage

If you already have solar panels then you might be considering adding battery storage. Battery storage allows you to capture any excess energy your solar panels are producing during the day, rather than sending it back into the grid. This energy is then stored and can be utilised when your solar panels aren’t operating or you’re consuming more than they can generate. Depending on the type of system, you may also be able to access this stored energy during a power outage.

Historically battery storage systems have not made financial sense for most people due to their relatively high cost and long payback period. The Victorian Government recently announced that eligible homeowners will be able to save up to $4,838 on the installation of a battery storage unit as part of their Solar Homes program. This will help with battery storage making more financial sense. Further details are yet to be announced, so watch our Funding Options page for announcements.

 

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Purchase Green Power

We understand that you may not be in a position to generate your own renewable energy locally. You might be renting your property, have structural issues with your roof or simply too much shade. You can still support our community’s transition to a renewable energy future through the purchase of certified GreenPower.

GreenPower is a government managed program enabling residents and businesses to replace their electricity usage with certified renewable energy. Speak to your retailer to find out how you can purchase GreenPower.