From our lighting and appliances to our devices and even our cars, an increasing portion of our daily lives is powered by electricity. So, what measures can you take at home to help conserve electricity?
While having energy-efficient appliances in your home can make a significant impact on your energy consumption, you can also reduce usage by adopting some simple energy-saving habits. Developing new household habits can help you start saving energy right away, so we’ve listed some simple energy-saving techniques that can be implemented at home. Over time, even small changes can make a big difference.
Main Sources of Household Electricity Consumption
To understand how to save electricity at home, it’s important to know which areas in your home consume the most energy. In New Zealand in 2021, most household electricity was used for heating water, keeping homes warm, and powering electronic devices.
Average Household Electricity Usage in New Zealand (2021):
Water heating: 27%
Space heating/cooling: 23%
Household electronics: 21%
Clothes washing/drying: 2%
When considering ways to reduce electricity usage, it’s a good starting point to understand which areas in your home use the most electricity. If your property has a smart meter, many power companies offer near-real-time insights into your usage habits, including different categories of electricity consumption. Once you understand how electricity is used in your home, you can start taking action.
How to Save Electricity in Your New Zealand Home
Saving electricity doesn’t mean you have to make drastic changes to what you do at home. By making some adjustments to your everyday household activities, you can employ various methods to save energy in every room of your house.
Ways to Save Electricity Around the House:
Over time, small changes can add up to significant savings, and the easiest way to save electricity throughout the entire house is to simply flip a switch. A group of hidden energy wasters in homes is household appliances left in standby mode. This includes devices and chargers that remain plugged in even when they’re not in frequent use. Powering appliances in standby mode accounts for about 5% of the average New Zealander’s annual electricity bill, so it’s worth flipping the switch when batteries are charged or appliances aren’t in use.
Turn off lights in rooms you’re not using or won’t enter for a while.
Draw curtains before sunset to keep the warmth in.
Block any drafts inside the house to prevent heat loss.
Avoid running a second fridge unless absolutely necessary.
Unplug devices being charged once they are fully charged (e.g., phones, laptops).
Lower the temperature of your hot water cylinder – note: the Ministry of Health recommends 60 degrees Celsius or higher to prevent legionella bacteria growth.
Kitchen Electricity Saving Tips:
The kitchen houses a variety of appliances we use daily, from refrigerators running constantly to electric kettles that make tea and coffee all day. If you’re in the market for new appliances, be sure to research which options are more energy-efficient or if you just want some tips to reduce consumption:
Turn off wall appliances when not in use.
Use the economy wash setting on the dishwasher when it’s fully loaded.
Only fill the kettle with the water you need to boil.
Use the microwave to heat food as it’s more efficient than an oven.
Don’t spend too much time preheating the oven.
Cover pots and pans when heating food or liquids.
Regularly defrost your fridge and freezer to keep them running more efficiently.
Clean the coils behind your fridge and freezer regularly.
Laundry Room Energy-Saving Tips:
The laundry room is a good place to eliminate some excess energy consumption. There’s an ongoing debate about whether it’s best to use hot water for laundry, but generally, cold water can get the job done and save ten times the energy with each wash.
Only run the washing machine when it’s full.
Use cold water for washing when possible.
Air dry clothes whenever possible instead of using a dryer.
If you need to use a dryer, make sure to keep the lint filter clean, as a clogged filter reduces efficiency.
Bathroom Electricity-Saving Tips:
Since your home’s hot water may be a major contributor to your energy bill, you can save on electricity by making some simple changes in the bathroom. According to the EECA, reducing shower time alone can save a significant amount of money, with the cost of a 15-minute shower being approximately $1, while a 5-minute shower averages around 33 degrees Celsius.
Choose showers over baths, as they are typically more energy-efficient.
Reduce shower time – use a timer to avoid losing track of time.
Fix any leaks from faucets promptly.
Identify areas in your home where electricity consumption may exceed actual needs and develop some energy-saving habits to help you achieve energy efficiency.
These energy-saving habits can help you achieve energy efficiency and reduce electricity consumption in your home:
Switch to LED Lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs. LEDs consume significantly less electricity and last longer.
Install Programmable Thermostats: Use programmable thermostats to regulate your heating and cooling systems more efficiently. Set lower temperatures in the winter and higher temperatures in the summer when you’re not at home or when you’re sleeping.
Seal Leaks and Insulate: Insulate your home and seal any gaps or leaks around windows, doors, and vents. Proper insulation helps maintain a consistent temperature inside your home, reducing the need for heating or cooling.
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances: When purchasing new appliances, look for the Energy Star label, which indicates that the appliance meets energy efficiency standards.
Unplug Chargers and Unused Electronics: Unplug chargers, devices, and electronics that aren’t in use to prevent them from drawing standby power.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Windows: If your budget allows, consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows that offer better insulation and can help reduce heating and cooling costs.
Take Shorter Showers: As mentioned earlier, shorter showers can significantly reduce your hot water usage, which is a major source of energy consumption.
Consider Solar Panels: Investigate the feasibility of installing solar panels on your roof to generate renewable energy and reduce your reliance on grid electricity.
Regular Maintenance: Keep your appliances, heating systems, and air conditioning units well-maintained. Clean filters and perform routine maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently.
Use Natural Light: Make the most of natural light during the day to reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems: If your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are old and inefficient, consider upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient models.
Set Refrigerators and Freezers at Optimal Temperatures: Ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are set at the recommended temperatures to avoid excessive energy consumption.
Turn Off Computers and Monitors: When not in use, turn off your computer and monitor or set them to enter sleep mode. Use power strips to easily disconnect multiple devices.
Educate Your Family: Encourage your family members to be conscious of energy use and involve them in adopting energy-saving habits.
Reduce Water Heater Temperature: Lowering the temperature on your water heater can save energy without sacrificing comfort.
Consider Timers and Smart Plugs: Use timers and smart plugs to automate the operation of lights and electronics, ensuring they are not left on unnecessarily.
Plant Shade Trees: Planting trees strategically around your home can provide shade and reduce the need for air conditioning during hot months.
Opt for Energy-Efficient Showerheads: Install low-flow showerheads to reduce water usage, which in turn reduces the energy required to heat the water.
Use Cold Water for Laundry: Whenever possible, use cold water for washing clothes, as heating water accounts for a significant portion of energy consumption during laundry.
Educate Yourself: Stay informed about energy-saving practices and technologies. Government agencies and utility companies often provide resources and incentives for energy conservation.
By adopting these energy-saving habits and making small changes in your daily routines, you can contribute to reducing your electricity consumption and lowering your energy bills while also helping the environment by decreasing your carbon footprint.