These days lots of thought goes into things like insulation, ventilation, shading and lighting. Those things can make a difference to your electricity bills, but you're likely to save far more simply by changing your habits. Below is a list of 10 tips that will help you make a significant dent in your electricity bills.
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1) Turn off computers, TVs, DVD players etc. at the wall when they're not being used. Standby power (also known as vampire power) accounts for something like 5% to 10% of an average home's energy usage. Some state governments are even subsidising special devices nowadays to help prevent this kind of power wastage.
2) Turn off lights in rooms as you leave them. A home automation system with occupancy sensors can also help with this.
3) If you haven't already, replace your old incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) or LED globes - they're normally more efficient by many orders of magnitude. They cost more, but that's more than compensated for by their far longer lifespans. You may also consider replacing 50W halogen downlights with lower powered versions, or CFL or LED alternatives as they fail.
4) Use effective lighting! A single lamp that's designed for workspace illumination (your desk, for example) is a far more appropriate choice than turning on a strip of halogen downlights - and it'll probably provide the equivalent illumination level where it's needed. Carefully planned task lighting can make a significant difference.
5) Do you really need all those dimmers? A dimmer often wastes part of the energy - roughly something in the order of 10%.
6) Don’t leave extraction fans or heat lamps running unnecessarily.
7) If you have an electric hot water system be sensible and avoid the temptation of switching on the booster power if it isn’t absolutely necessary. Instead, make sure you stick to the economical night tariff and plan your water usage properly. Electric hot water tanks are being phased out, so if you're replacing one, shop around for an efficient alternative.
8) Don’t be a thermostat junkie - wear suitably warm clothing in winter. In the summer, don't try to recreate the arctic in your living room. If it’s 40 degrees outside, be happy with 30 inside. A fan may also provide just as much comfort for a fraction of the price. Limit the parts of the house you're heating or cooling by closing doors and using draught stoppers.
9) Switch off electric radiators if you can - they're very inefficient compared to a reverse cycle air conditioner working as a heat pump. Likewise, fans are always cheaper than airconditioners.
10) Run the pool pump continuously only when the weather is hot. Depending on where you live you may have an economy tariff available, allowing your pump to be run on a timed circuit similar to a hot water unit.