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5 ways to save on power costs and use renewable energy at home

17 February 2020

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With extreme temperatures in the summer and winter months and soaring power prices, there’s never been a better time to review how you’re using energy in your home. Saving energy and using more renewable sources is a win-win situation for every household. You can dramatically cut your power bill, reduce emissions, and lower your overall environmental impact. While making changes might require an initial outlay and a little effort, the results could be well worth your investment and time. When it comes to getting smart about energy, you have a lot of tips and strategies available, so where do you start? Consider these five practical measures you can put into effect today.

1. Install LED lighting

LED lighting is one of the most energy-efficient options for light bulbs. Not only do they use less energy, they last much longer than incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs could boost the energy efficiency of your lighting system as much as 60% to 75%, making these bulbs a worthwhile investment. 

So how do you pick the right LED light bulb? The terms luminous efficacy or useful lumens refers to the amount of light emitted per unit of power. As such, these give you an indication of how energy efficient a light bulb is. Choose dimmer bulbs for areas like closets and bedrooms to save even more on energy. 

2. Maximise natural light

Maximise natural light so you don’t need to switch on the light during the day. If possible, install skylights in rooms without windows, especially in areas like bathrooms and kitchens that are heavily used. Choose window treatments that let you open up fully and allow more light to get in, and trim light-blocking shrubs where necessary. Natural light won’t just save you on electricity; it can boost the ambiance in your interior spaces. You can also enhance natural light by using more large mirrors, painting walls in lighter shades and cooler tones, and opting for light-coloured furniture. 

3. Bring the outdoors inside

If you usually keep the air conditioner running 14/7 during summer, you can start saving on your power bills by bringing the outdoors into your home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to introduce a few indoor plants to your living spaces. Pot plants can cool down your spaces because they lose water during the transpiration process, which refers to the the process by which the leaves evaporating water. 

Indoor plants also purify your air, releasing oxygen and removing toxins like formaldehyde, so you end up with health benefits as well as energy savings. Great indoor plants to bring into your home include aloe vera, bamboo palm, weeping fig, peace lily, and spider plant. 

4. Go solar

Generating your own electricity by harnessing the power the sun helps you cut your electricity bill. Moreover, you’re helping out the environment by reducing demand for coal and other non-renewables. You can power any appliance and device with your solar system, and you can even recharge your car if you have an electric vehicle. 

Solar systems are fast becoming more affordable, with improving technology, competitive pricing, and government incentives helping drive down prices. The payback period for your solar panel system could be shorter than you think. Additionally, with feed-in-tariffs allowing you to sell back your power to the grid and skyrocketing power prices, it’s a great time to consider switching to solar now, so you’re protected from electricity price hikes.

5. Invest in energy efficient appliances

Think you’re saving money by keeping your old appliances? Think again. Your old washing machine, TV, or heater might be costing you a fortune to run. While energy-efficient appliances might cost a little more, they quickly pay for themselves. Look for the Energy Rating label when you’re shopping for a new toaster, fridge, or other appliance. The more stars on the label, the more energy and money you’ll save and the lower the appliance’s emissions. 

Keep in mind around a third of the electricity you use in your home goes towards running your appliances. You can find out how much your appliances are costing you to run by using an inexpensive plug-in power metre. Other ways to save more include turning appliances off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby, and adjusting temperature and other settings to reduce power intensity. For example, you might not need to keep your fridge running at the lowest temperature setting. 

Final considerations

Switching to renewable power like solar, leveraging natural light, and choosing energy-efficient appliances are excellent ways to save money and reduce your environmental impact. These measures are great first steps towards making your home more sustainable and cheaper to run. For even more savings, have an expert carry out a full energy audit and work out ways to save on other utilities like water and gas. 

Heating and cooling, in particular, can account for a significant percentage of your home-running costs. While these strategies might require a little effort and an upfront cost, you’ll end up better off in the longer term. The more efficient you make your household now, the more you’ll protect your household budget from increasing energy and utilities prices.

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