If you’re looking to save energy and reduce your energy bills there’s more to it than just switching appliances off. You also want them to run as efficiently as they can while they’re on. That’s why energy ratings are important.
An appliance with a good energy rating uses less energy than one with a less efficient rating, and can save you money in the long term on your energy usage.
What is an energy rating?
You’ve probably seen the energy rating stickers on the front of many common appliances.
The Energy Rating Label or ERL system is a joint initiative of the Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments, as well as the New Zealand government.
It allows you to quickly compare the energy efficiency of similar appliances.
The sticker shows from one to six or ten stars. A higher number of stars means the appliance is more energy efficient. It also shows an annual energy usage figure in kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.
Why should I pay attention to energy ratings?
The Energy Rating Label allows you to consider the energy usage of an appliance in addition to its price and other features.
Appliances can account for up to 30% of a home's energy usage. So, using an energy-efficient appliance can save you energy and money on your energy usage and helps you do your bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of the product.
Do appliances with good energy ratings cost more?
Not necessarily. Pricing depends on the appliance’s features and brand as well as the energy rating. Sometimes models with high star ratings can cost more. However, choosing a cheaper product with a lower star rating could end up costing you more in running costs (ie. energy usage costs) over the longer term.
You can use the energy label like a " second price tag" to help you decide which appliance to buy, and consider how much it might cost to run.
And, depending on where you live, there could be rebates available to assist you with purchasing more energy-efficient appliances.
Which appliances can I compare?
The energy rating label is mandatory for appliances including:
While energy ratings are important in making an informed decision about which appliance to buy, the way in which you use your appliances also makes a difference to energy usage.
Up to 38% of your home’s yearly energy usage can go on producing and storing the hot water it needs for things like cooking, bathing, and cleaning clothes and dishes^.
Having showers instead of baths and keeping your shower time under 4 minutes can go a long way in keeping your hot water usage down.
Insulating your water heater’s pipes can keep its water hotter for longer.
A low-flow showerhead can cut down your shower’s energy and hot water usage.
Save energy by washing as many loads as you can using cold water.
Avoid overfilling your laundry tub with more water than you actually need.
You can tell if your water heater has any leaks by looking for pools of water around its base. Also, listen for any water that’s running when your taps are turned off. This may suggest your home has a cracked or broken water pipe.
A dripping tap can leak hundreds of litres a year, costing you plenty. Make sure taps are turned off tightly and repair any that are leaking.
While there are energy efficient water heaters available, a solar hot water service can use the power of the sun instead of adding to the total of your gas or electricity bills.
^Source:Baseline Energy Estimates, 2008
How do LED lights work?
Did you know that replacing your old halogen downlights with low-energy LED lighting is one of the simplest and easiest things you can do to save energy in your home and reduce your power bill?
What is LED?
LED stands for light-emitting diode. To get technical, LED is a semiconductor that converts electricity into light. It’s one of the newer technologies available in energy-efficient lighting.
How long do LED lights last?
LEDs last a long time compared to traditional incandescent (think Thomas Edison) or halogen lights.
AGL uses high quality LED downlights that come with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and have an average life span of between 15,000 and 70,000 hours.
How can a light bulb be energy efficient?
It’s estimated LEDs use approximately 85 per cent less energy than halogen or incandescent lighting. So, installing LED lighting can really reduce your energy usage and ultimately lead to savings on your energy bill.
What is the difference between LED, halogen and incandescent lighting?
The main difference between LED and halogen and incandescent lighting is energy efficiency. LEDs are longer lasting and cost less to run.
Depending on the type used, LEDs can last 30–50 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. They’re also smaller, and can be faster-switching depending on the light fitting.
Also, compared to halogen lighting, LED downlights are safer, as they have a lower risk of fire because they run at lower temperatures.
Are there any other energy-efficient lighting alternatives?
You can get a variety of energy-efficient lighting, such as eco-halogens or compact fluorescent tubes. However, LEDs still beat the rest for energy efficiency and longevity.
Note that many kinds of incandescent bulbs are no longer available, having been phased out by the government from 2009.
To see how much you could save by switching from halogen to LED downlights visit our online calculator.
Microwaves are more efficiently to run than electric ovens They are rated from 700 – around 1200 Watts, so choose the right size and wattage for your needs. Ovens range from around 3 kiloWatts upwards, depending on size and efficiency.
Stir or turn food regularly to reduce cooking time.
Always look at the Energy Rating label when you purchase a new microwave. The more stars, the more you could save on your electricity usage.
If your clothes can be washed in cold water, always wash them in cold water. It’ll help save on your hot water costs.
Match the machine’s wash cycle and water level to the type and size of each load.
Choose the shortest possible one wherever it’s possible.
Save time and energy and use your machine less by doing full loads of washing.
Use the spin cycle and hang your washing outside to dry instead of using a clothes dryer.
In summer, use your washing machine in the early morning or late evening and stop from adding to the heat and humidity in your home.
Always look at the Energy Rating label when you purchase a new washing machine. The more stars, the less electricity it’ll use.
Use natural light wherever possible (e.g. open curtains in the morning instead of turning on the light).
Halogen downlights are energy inefficient to use. Limit their use or replace them with LED globes. If you can’t replace them with downlights, invest in a few table lamps fitted with LED A bulbs to light your space.\
Use efficient lights like LED A globes or Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL).
Turn off lights when you’re not in the room (fluorescents and low energy lights).
Ensure that outdoor lights are switched off during the day.
Remember light-colored surfaces reflect light and will help illuminate the room.
Use appropriate light levels – don’t over light a room.
Use the economy cycle on your dishwasher with the lowest temperature and the shortest time when you can.
Avoid running your dishwasher during the hottest parts of the day so your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to reduce the added heat and humidity.
Always look at the Energy Rating label when you purchase a new dishwasher. The more stars, the less electricity and water it’ll use.
Where possible, run appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer not at off peak energy tariff times.
Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation and to keep in the heat.
Running your pool’s filter for 8 to 12 hours in summer and 6 to 8 hours in winter is normally more than enough.
Clean the pool’s skimmer box and filters often to ease pressure on your pool pump.
Drain and refill your pool only when you have to.
Use storm and rainwater to top up your pool.
Test your pool’s chemical balance regularly. Getting it right should help you keep the water clean without using the filter too much.
It is now estimated that home electronics and computers now account for around 15% of household energy use.
Create a 'charging station' powerboard for devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets and digital cameras, so you can turn off individual chargers (if your powerboard has individual switches) or the whole strip when nothing is being charged.
Turn off standby on your devices, as these use around 10% of electricity in the average home. And up to 75% of standby power is used when devices are not even in use!
Use thermostats and timers where possible.
Set your heating to 19 – 22.C. Every degree higher could add up to 10% on your heating bill.
Shut heating vents in the rooms you're not using.
It's also worth putting deflectors on vents near windows, so the heat goes into the centre of the room and not out the window.
If possible, use only to heat small areas for short periods.
Bar heaters and radiators are not good for heating space. Use these when sitting at a desk studying or on the couch reading.
Close doors so you're only heating or cooling the spaces you're in, instead of the whole house.
Layer up. Putting on a jumper is cheaper than turning on the heater!
Don't leave your heater/cooler running overnight or while you're out. If you're really worried about those cold mornings, buy an efficient portable heater with a timer.
Hang heavy lined curtains to keep heat in during the winter and out on hot summer days.
To reduce your use of heating and cooling devices, close your windows and curtains before the house heats up on summer days, and at night in winter.
Use overhead or portable fans instead of air conditioners where possible. They are effective and use less energy.
Drape a wet sheet over an open doorway. It's nature's air conditioner.
Set the thermostat on your cooling between 23 – 260 C. Every degree lower could add 10% to the cooling energy usage charges on your bill.
Cool your home naturally. Once the temperature has cooled outside, open windows, and curtains and blinds, to let the cool air in.
Change the pads on your evaporative cooler before each summer.
Put your computer to sleep when you won’t be using it for short periods of time. You can change its settings so this happens automatically.
Screensavers don’t save energy. Turn off your screen if you won't be using it for a longer period, and turn it off at the wall
Choose a high efficiency LCD or LED monitor, as they use less than half the electricity is conventional monitors Remember, the more energy stars, the more efficient the monitor.
When you won’t be using your computer for longer periods, shut it down and turn it off at the wall.
Limit your use of the dryer. Use a clothesline or clothes horse whenever you can.
Venting your dryer to an outside point where it can release the moist air should help improve its efficiency. Or if that’s not possible, open up windows or doors so there’s better ventilation when your dryer is on.
Set your dryer to 'warm' instead of 'hot'. It may take longer for your clothes to dry but you should use less energy. Clean the lint filter before every use.
Don’t put dripping-wet clothes in your dryer. Wring them out or give them a good spin in the washing machine beforehand.
If you must use the dryer, doing consecutive loads will help you maximise the built-up heat.
Put together clothes that require roughly the same amount of drying time so you don't waste energy over-drying them.
In summer, use your washing machine in the early morning or late evening and stop from adding to the heat and humidity in your home.
Always look at the Energy Rating label when you purchase a new clothes dryer. The more stars, the less electricity it’ll use.
Replace your showerhead with a low flow unit.
If your landlord won’t give permission and won’t allow you to exchange the existing showerhead, go for a flow restrictor instead. You can install them yourself, and they do the same thing as a water saving showerhead.
Reduce the time you spend in the shower.
When buying a new washing machine, dish washer or hot water service, make sure you size your purchase to meet your needs (i.e. bigger isn’t necessarily better if you have a small household) and compare the energy rating of the various units so that you choose a product which doesn’t cause large ongoing energy bills.
Limit how many times you open your oven door to stop heat from escaping.
Like with fridge seals, if you can remove a sheet of paper easily when your oven door is closed, you may need to replace the seals.
Let frozen food defrost in the fridge overnight to avoid using the microwave.
Make sure frozen food is completely thawed out to save cooking time and energy.
Use a lid when you’re boiling water in a pot to save energy and cook food faster.
Don't preheat the oven for longer than you need.
Slow-cooked dishes don’t need a preheated oven, plus you can turn the oven off 15 minutes before you take them out.
To get the most out of your oven or cook top, use it to capacity by cooking everything at the same time if you can.
Use flat bottom pans with tight-fitting lids that match the size of your electric cook top to cut down on heat loss, and use rounded pans for cooking with gas.
Try to cook on your BBQ or in your microwave during summer to keep your kitchen cool.
Kettles vary in wattage from around 2200 W upwards. Don’t waste energy by filling it full of cold water when you only want one cup!