Tips for saving on energy costs

From our lighting and appliances to our devices and even our cars, an increasing portion of our day-to-day life is driven by electricity. So, what actions can you take in your house to help save power?

While having energy-efficient appliances in your home can have a big effect on your energy consumption, you can also reduce your usage by applying some simple energy conservation habits. Building a few new household habits can help you start energy saving straight away, so we’ve put together a list of some simple power saving tips that you can implement in your household. Even small changes can make a big difference over time.

Top sources of power consumption in the home

To understand how to save electricity at home, it’s important to know which areas of your household are consuming the most energy. According to the EECA’s Energy End Use Database, in 2021 the majority of electricity in New Zealand homes was consumed by heating water, keeping the house warm, and powering electronics.

Average household electricity usage in New Zealand (2021)

  • Water heating: 27%
  • Space heating/cooling: 23%
  • Home electronics: 21%
  • Refrigeration: 12%
  • Cooking: 9%
  • Lighting 5%
  • Clothes washing/drying: 2%
  • Dishwashing: 1%

Understanding which areas of your home are using the most electricity is a great place to start when thinking about ways to reduce your usage.

How to save power in your New Zealand home

Saving power doesn’t mean you have to make big changes to the things you do while you’re at home. By making a few changes to your everyday household activities there are many ways to save energy in every room of the house.

Ways to save power around the house

Small changes can make a big difference over time, and the easiest ways to save power throughout your house can simply be by the flick of a switch. One group of hidden energy wasters at home are household appliances in standby mode. This includes devices and chargers that are still plugged in, even when they are not being actively used. Powering appliances on standby can account for around 5% of a kiwi’s average yearly electricity bill, so it’s worth turning that switch off once the battery is full, or when you’re not using the appliance.

  • Switch off lights in rooms you aren’t using or won’t be in for a while
  • Shut the curtains before the sun sets to keep the warmth in
  • Block any drafts in the house so the heat doesn’t escape
  • Avoid running a second fridge all the time unless you really need to
  • Unplug devices that are charging (phones, laptops etc.) once the battery is full
  • Turn your hot water cylinder down – Note: The Ministry of Health recommend 60 degrees Celsius or higher to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria

Power saving tips in the kitchen

The kitchen is home to a large number of appliances we use on a daily basis, from the fridge that is always running to the electric jug that keeps us fuelled with tea and coffee throughout the day. If you're in the market for new appliances, make sure to look into which options are more energy efficient or if you just want some small tips to reduce consumption:

  • Turn appliances off at the wall if you’re not using them
  • Run your dishwasher when it’s completely full using the economy wash setting
  • Only fill your kettle up with the water you need to boil
  • Use a microwave to heat food as it can be more efficient than an oven
  • Don’t spend more time pre-heating your oven than you need to
  • Cover your pots and pans with lids when heating food or liquids
  • Regularly defrost your fridges and freezers so they run more efficiently
  • Regularly clean the grille behind your fridges and freezers

Energy saving tips in the laundry

The laundry is a great place to wash away some of your excess energy consumption. There has been debate over whether it is best to wash your clothes in hot water, however it is widely agreed that cold water will do the trick, using up to 10 times less energy with each load.

  • Only run your washing machine when you have a full load
  • Use a cold-water wash whenever you can
  • Air dry laundry when you can instead of using a dryer
  • If you need to use the dryer, be sure to keep the filters clean as a clogged filter can reduce efficiency

Ways to save power in the bathroom

With your home’s hot water likely being the main contributor to your energy bill, there are ways to save electricity at home by making a few simple changes in the bathroom. According to the EECA, simply reducing your shower time can result in significant savings, with a 15 minute shower costing around $1 compared to a 5 minute shower at about 33c.  

  • Choose showers over baths as they’re usually more energy efficient
  • Cut down your shower time - use a timer so you don’t lose track of time
  • Fix any leaking taps as soon as they start leaking

Being aware of the areas of your home that could be using more power than they need to and implementing a few energy saving habits can help you on your way to energy savings.