Our energy experts and consultants offer their top tips on simple, household energy solutions that cost little but can save you a lot.
While energy’s becoming smarter and cleaner, quite rapidly, there’s still plenty of ways consumers can reduce the amount of energy they use at home. Adding up to lower energy bills and more eco-friendly habits.
Origin’s 2021 Future Energy Report reveals some uncomfortable truths around energy wastage, particularly amongst younger people.
When it comes to having showers longer than five minutes, for example, 53% of those 18 to 34 and 21% of those aged 55+ said they were guilty – and 38% of respondents said they left appliances switched on at the plug.
We also couldn’t help but admire the bond between humans and animals when 13% of those aged 18 to 34 said they leave the TV on as company for their pets. So, with all that in mind, what are the big-ticket behavioural changes people can make to use less energy? Here’s what the experts had to say.
1. Turn down the heat
“When you look at the things that contribute significantly to an energy bill, it’s mainly related to heating and cooling,” says Jan Prichard, General Manager Customer Care at Origin. “Adjust the heater temperature down and opt for a jumper and some socks.” Independent energy consultant working with St Vincent de Paul Society, Anne Armansin, agrees. “Cheap heaters can use up to five times more energy as a reverse cycle air conditioner” she says.
“Instead, go for an electric throw rug that uses a maximum of 150 watts, compared to an electric heater that will start at 500 watts and go up to 2.4 kilowatts,” Armansin recommends.
Set your reverse cycle AC (heating) temp between 18°C and 20°C in winter to save up to 10% on usage.
2. Avoid dual fuel when you can
If your household has a gas supply only for the cooktop, consider switching to electric-only when you next upgrade the cooker. “With electricity and gas you’re facing two separate supply charges, no matter how much or how little you use,” Armansin says. “If you just use gas for a cook-top, the supply charge can make up around 80% of your bill.”
3. Research new purchases
When you’re buying a new product for your home, look at the label to understand its power consumption and take into consideration its energy star rating. “Know the ongoing impact a product will have on your wallet,” Prichard says. “Don’t just look at the purchase price.”
4. Unplug devices when they’re not in use
A long time ago, when you switched off a device you really did switch off a device. These days, you’re simply switching it into sleep mode. In that mode it’s still keeping the time, staying connected to WiFi, powering the red ‘off’ light, downloading updates, etc. These are all the same things that cause your smartphone’s battery to run down overnight. “Instead of allowing this constant drain on your system, switch devices off at the wall when you’re not using them” Prichard says.
5. Get familiar with your energy usage
Explore apps offered by your provider, and other opportunities such as Origin Spike to become more familiar with your energy usage behaviours. And get everybody in the house involved. “Most find that by making small behavioural changes, they can significantly reduce their bills” Prichard says. But without knowing your patterns in the first place, it’s difficult to figure out what you’re doing right and wrong.