Ways to save energy
Reducing the amount of energy you use can have a positive impact on your life and Aotearoa. By doing a few simple things and making small changes to your home and your household appliances, you can save power and reduce your power bills.
Why do we need to save electricity?
- You save money – the less electricity you use, the less you pay.
- You help the environment – using less electricity means less electricity generation and infrastructure is required. New Zealand typically generates 5-15% of electricity per day from non-renewable sources (like coal and gas). The less power we use, especially during peak periods, the more we can rely on cleaner renewable power sources. Everyone needs to do their bit to help New Zealand achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
How to save power
Here's our top tips on how to save power, save money and help the environment:
Change your lightbulbs to LEDs
A small change that can have a big impact is to replace incandescent or fluorescent bulbs to Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs. Lighting makes up a large amount of your bill as it is often on for long periods of time.
Ever felt how much heat is coming from an incandescent bulb? These bulbs waste most of the power they consume as heat, with only around 30% of the power it being turned into useful light. An LED bulb doesn’t produce much heat and therefore turns most of the power it uses into useful light. An LED that outputs similar light levels to a 100 watt incandescent bulb will only use around 8-12 watts.
LED bulbs cost more upfront, but this is paid off quickly via how much electricity they save over time. It is not cheaper to wait until your incandescent bulbs have blown to switch them to LEDs. The faster you switch them out, the faster you save money.
Invest in a heat pump
Heating our homes with electricity using resistive heaters (fan heaters, bar heaters, oil heaters) is very energy intensive and expensive. Using a a heat pump instead is a highly efficient way to heat your home. It outputs more heat energy than it consumes in electricity:
A typical 1,000 watt resistive electrical heater (such as a bar heater, oil column heater or fan heater) outputs 1,000 watts of heat energy. It is 100% efficient, in the sense that all the electrical energy consumed is converted to heat energy which enters the room being heated.
In comparison, a typical heat pump consumes 1,700 watts of electrical energy but outputs over 6,000 watts of heat energy. This means that heat pumps are, in effect, more than 100% efficient and are far more effective at converting electrical energy into heat energy than resistive electrical heaters, and cost much less to run. As an added bonus, they provide air conditioning when it is hot.
Insulate your home
Your home could lose a lot of heat if it is not able to hold heat in due to lack of insulation. You can reduce your power bills by boosting the heat-holding capabilities of your home:
- Ensure curtains reach the floor. Gaps between the floor and curtain create a chimney effect which sucks heat away from the room, so make sure your curtains reach the floor.
- Invest in wall insulation. Would you buy a fridge or oven with holes in the sides? It pays to think about insulating your walls. Most Kiwi homes were built before wall insulation was a building code requirement, so heat is lost through the walls. There are many cost effective ways to install wall insulation without needing to remove sections of cladding or plasterboard.
- Install thermally broken, non-conductive double glazing. Double glazing is effective at keeping the heat in your home. Make sure you choose non-conductive thermally broken double glazing instead of aluminium double glazing. It’s more effective at keeping the heat in and moisture out. What do these terms mean?
- Thermally broken means window frames are not conductive between the outside and interior of the house. This is a crucial feature as it ensures that the cold from outside does not conduct into your home. Thermally broken windows also ensure that no condensation forms on your internal window frames.
- Non-conductive is similar to thermally broken, but refers to the window frame material. Choosing uPVC over aluminium can help ensure that no heat is lost through the frame, helping you to keep more heat in your home.
Avoid drying your clothes inside
The more moisture in your home, the more energy is required to heat your home. Drying clothes inside adds up to five litres of moisture to the air, meaning you will spend more money on power to heat the moisture-laden space compared to a dry space. It may be more cost effective to run the dryer for a short time to get your clothes dry.
Ensure your appliances are energy efficient
Switch out old energy-draining appliances for newer, more efficient models. Look for appliances with high energy star ratings with superior energy efficiency to help you lower your energy costs over time. This can be cheaper in the long run compared to keeping older, less efficient appliances going.
Get a home energy assessment
Eco Design Advisors work at local councils and can provide free home assessments. They can check your home's insulation and provide you with free advice on how to make your home warmer, healthier and more energy-efficient.