Swap, switch off and save

March 6, 2011


Zolton Cohen

Hot water/steam commercial/ industrial boilers & superheaters

A few simple adjustments around the house can help reduce your energy use, writes Bina Brown.

EVERYONE likes to save money and it doesn't get much simpler than turning off the lights or having a shorter shower.

Just these and a few other simple things, such as switching off appliances at the wall, installing energy-efficient light bulbs, washing clothes in cold water and installing or topping up insulation in the ceiling and walls, can save the average household several hundred dollars a year.

The actual energy-use of a house, and therefore the cost savings that may be possible, will depend on a number of factors including the type of appliance you are using as well as its model (going for appliances with the best energy rating will help cut costs), how long you use it for, the thermostat settings and the electricity and gas tariffs.

It's not always possible to know all of these but the AGL interactive energy advice calculator is one way of seeing how simple energy housekeeping techniques will reduce energy bills and environmental impacts.

For example, a television turned on for an hour a day might cost about $12 a year in power but one left on for six hours will see the price rise to $72 a year. Just turning it off at the wall instead of leaving it on standby will reduce the cost by about $12 a year.

According to AGL, the greatest cost savings in the average living room will come from turning televisions and DVD players off at the wall rather than having them in standby mode, as well as changing the lighting to fluorescent globes and then turning them off when no one's in the room. When it comes to heating or airconditioning a room, minimise the space to be heated or cooled by closing doors and then set the thermostat to between 18 degrees and 21 degrees, in the case of a heater.

Curtains on windows can also be used to effectively warm and cool a house, thus cutting down on energy usage.


Hot water

Hot water is estimated to account for somewhere between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the average household's energy use. The heating of water is also a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

Solar hot water sounds like a great alternative to the costs of running a standard electric or gas water heater but the cost of installation will mean there is a payback period.

If you have electric heating, the estimated savings of switching to solar are between $500 and $800 a year depending on your usage and rates.

The other good news is that someone using an electric hot-water system should qualify for the maximum government rebates. The federal government rebate for eligible households is $1000 for a solar hot-water system or $600 for a heat-pump

hot-water system.

Some state and territory governments also still have rebates of several hundred dollars.

Depending on the size and type of system you get, the payback period on the cost of replacing an electric hot-water system with solar, less the rebates, has been estimated at about four to five years.

The case for switching from gas hot water to solar is neither as convincing nor as necessary.

This is partly because the rebates don't apply to existing gas systems and gas is a pretty efficient way to heat hot water.

The estimated payback period on the cost of replacing gas systems with solar hot-water systems is more like 10 to 20 years, depending on the size of the system.

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