How much energy do your appliances use?
It’s official. Australia now has the highest electricity prices in the world. That’s according to Bruce Mountain, director of energy consultancy Carbon and Energy Markets, who last week announced South Australian households in particular are now paying three times more for their electricity than in the US and 50 per cent more than in the UK.
New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are not far behind – with WA households already hit with a 10.9 per cent government increase from 1 July.
Faced with soaring electricity bills and no real end in sight, do you know how much energy your household appliances use? And what you can do to reduce your usage?
Typical quarterly running costs
According to Your Home, the Australian government’s guide to sustainable homes, your household energy use can be broken down as follows: heating and cooling 40 per cent; appliances and equipment including refrigeration and cooking 33 per cent; water heating 21 per cent; and lighting 6 per cent.
Electric water heaters are the biggest energy guzzlers in the average home, followed closely by ducted and split system air conditioners. But what about your other day-to-day appliances?
Ausgrid recently calculated the typical quarterly running costs for your appliances. And here’s what they found. Not surprisingly split system air conditioners are top of the list, followed by oil heaters and old fridges.
In fact, according to Ausgrid, a 20-year-old fridge costs over twice as much to run as a new fridge. If you’re one of the many Australian families with a second fridge, consider getting rid of the old one to save up to $150 a year.
Ausgrid appliance usage guide
|Household appliances||Typical quarterly running costs|
|1||Air conditioner – split system||$176.80|
|2||Heater – large oil column heater||$72.70|
|3||Fridge – 20 years old 400l||$65.50|
|4||Fridge – new 400l||$30.10|
|5||Freezer – 200l||$24.80|
|6||Oven and large cooktop||$24.20|
|8||Washing machine (warm cycle)||$18.20|
|9||TV – large 120cm 3 star||$14.80|
|12||Iron – small||$3.80|
|14||Computer and monitor||$2.50|
|15||Mobile phone charger||$2.20|
Source: Ausgrid. This is the average energy charge that a typical residential customer pays on a market offer with a pay on time discount from major energy retailers in the Ausgrid electricity network area from 1 July 2015 (inc GST). Click here for the full breakdown.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Robert Simpson says making small changes to the way you use your appliances could help save hundreds of dollars on your annual power bill.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. It costs less than half a cent to charge up your mobile phone,” says Dr Simpson.
“Focus on appliances that cool and heat. These include hot water systems, heaters and air conditioners, fridges and freezers and other appliances such as clothes dryers if used often.
“Electric hot water is the biggest energy user in the average home. If you shave two minutes off every shower you could save up to $100 a year. Use cold water to wash your clothes and you could save about $80 a year,” adds Dr Simpson.
Here at HomeHub we’ve put together the following tips to help reduce your appliance usage around the home.
- Replace old fridges and freezers – an old fridge can cost over twice as much to run as new energy efficient models
- Replace your old electric storage water heater with a more energy efficient alternative such as solar, heat pump or gas
- Reduce the length of your showers to save up to $100 a year
- Wash your clothes in cold water to save up to $80 a year
- Keep your air conditioning thermostat between 18 to 21 degrees in winter and 23 to 26 degrees in summer – you can save up to 10 per cent on heating and cooling costs for each extra degree on the thermostat
- Replace your halogen globes and down lights with CFL or LEDs to save up to 80 per cent on your lighting costs
Standby your hidden enemy
One very quick and easy way to save on your power bill is to look at just how much energy your appliances use when you’re not even using them. According to CHOICE, standby energy usage could cost you almost $200 a quarter!
When CHOICE compared appliances, there were big variations between different brands. The largest cost difference was with multi-function printers where the lowest standby cost was $0.00 and the highest was a huge $118.24.
Here are CHOICE’s standby energy quarterly results:
CHOICE’s top tips for reducing standby costs
- Remember to turn off your appliances at the wall where possible
- When shopping for your next appliance, look for the one with the lowest standby energy score in CHOICE’s test results. Alternatively, standby power consumption is sometimes included in product specs. Look for those with very low amounts, ideally one watt or less
- If you can feel heat coming from your laptop power pack, even when the appliance isn’t attached, it’s drawing enough energy to cost you money
- If your home entertainment power plugs are impossible to get to because of messy wires, there are devices such as EcoSwitch that can help
- When choosing an appliance that shouldn’t be turned off, such as a fridge, look for one that combines the lowest running cost and best performance to improve your savings even further
- Don’t forget that the appliance’s overall energy efficiency is still the most important factor. Low standby power use is irrelevant if the appliance is an energy hog when in use!
Calculate your energy usage
If you want to check the energy consumption of your appliances, there are some great energy rating calculators online, including: