A home’s water heater, refrigerator and other appliances use almost half of the energy consumed in the home, so make sure they are properly maintained and operated to maximise energy efficiency and prolong operating life.
A significant energy expense in the average home can be heating and cooling. Fit draft excluders to windows and doors, and shut doors so you only heat or cool the rooms you are using. In winter, turn down heating and put on a jumper instead.
Fit LED lights – they pay for themselves in a year, last up to 10 times longer than conventional bulbs and save more than 66 per cent in lighting costs during their lifetime.
Turn off appliances at the wall when you’re not using them – standby can use up to five per cent of household energy.
Buying new appliances can be expensive, so make sure you consider the projected energy costs over the life of an appliance before you buy.
Energy efficient buildings can substantially reduce energy costs. Design features such as orientation, verandas, window placement, as well as insulation, all help to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of buildings.
Install solar hot water – it will give you free, and carbon-free, hot water and pay for itself in a few years.
Take the train, catch a bus, walk, cycle or carpool with a colleague or neighbour, it can use a fraction of the energy.
Holiday closer to home – Australia has some of the world’s best restaurants, resorts, beaches and natural scenery.
Combine local errands in one trip. Car engines are least efficient while warming up and in urban traffic, so short trips are relatively more polluting.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, why not have a few more in the garden or the house.
Energy at work
Conduct an energy audit to understand what, and how, energy is being used in your business.
Fit LED lights: they pay for themselves in a year, last up to 10 times longer than conventional bulbs and save more than 66% in lighting costs over their lifetime.
Fit draft excluders (or a door-snake works just fine too!) to avoid the draft from windows and doors.
Turn all office appliances off at the wall when you’re not using them or overnight.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from freight transport by buying local food and products.
Replace travelling with tele-conferencing or video-conferencing whenever possible.
Review your supply chain with “green” in mind. When you need to purchase new goods and services seek value for money, which includes energy efficiency as a key factor.
65% of office energy use can be from air-conditioning. Setting a temperature 2° lower can save up to 13% of the power use.
Consider renovating rather than demolishing and rebuilding, as embodied energy incorporated into existing buildings can be significant.
Energy at school
The sun is our greatest natural source of energy, so maximise the natural daylight that shines in through your classroom windows each day by rearranging desks and furniture around windows and skylights.
Turn off lights, heating and cooling at recess and lunch when you are not using them.
Use energy efficient light sources such as LED lights that use up to 75% less electricity than normal incandescent globes – and they last up to ten times longer. While they do cost more initially, each globe saves around $80 in electricity bills over its lifetime, as well as reducing greenhouse gases by around 650 kilograms for each globe.
Keep heaters and air conditioners set at the right temperature to avoid over heating or cooling. Between 18-21°C is right in winter and 25°C in summer, and can save on energy bills.
Make sure that photocopiers, computers, printers and monitors are switched off at night and on weekends.
Minimise the amount of hot water you use by fixing any leaking hot water taps and installing aerators.
Kettles and instant water boilers are more efficient than large urns.
Heat just enough water for tea and coffee – it’s easy to heat more than you need unnecessarily.
Work as a class to conduct an energy audit of your school. Consider how energy and resources are used. Count all the light bulbs, power points and appliances. Also assess water usage. Then develop a checklist of how things can be improved.
Become an energy monitor and ensure lights, heating and equipment are turned off at the end of each day.
Walk, ride or catch public transport to get to school.
Grow a school veggie garden and use the produce at the canteen so food doesn’t have to travel so far.
Waste at home
Nearly half (49%) of all waste from households is organic waste. Join the 30% of Australians composting their garden waste, and the 23% composting their food scraps, to turn them into fertiliser for your garden instead of sending them to landfill.
Visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au – a great site that tells you how and where to recycle just about anything.
Contact your local council to find out what recycling services they offer for larger electronic and electrical products.
Opt for products with minimal packaging where possible.
Choose concentrated products or refillable containers.
When you’re buying fruit and vegetables, pop them straight into your trolley rather than into plastic bags.
Give unwanted clothes, household items, furniture and appliances to family and friends, or donate them to charities.
Use washed takeaway containers to store frozen food.
Waste at work
Introduce a multiple bin system to encourage recycling – one bin for paper/cardboard, another for plastics/cans and one more for general waste. Check with your local council what recycling occurs in your area and what is the best system for your office.
Set photocopiers to double-sided printing as a default. If you can’t do this, place a box next to the photocopier for waste copies and have staff use them as paper for taking notes (saving the cost of notebooks!).
Set up a central memo noticeboard or a dry erase board to eliminate large amounts of office paper notifications.
Use office products made from recycled or sustainably produced materials.
Avoid using disposable products wherever possible. Consider investing in ceramic plates and mugs instead of paper or plastic for the office kitchen, or bring your own reusable ones.
Order supplies in bulk to reduce packaging waste
Reuse old binders, folders and general office equipment to reduce waste and save on money.
Instead of throwing away unwanted paper, shred and reuse them as packing material.
Reduce margins to cut down on printing.
When organising office clean ups look to see what can be recycled or donated.
When disposing of old office equipment or furniture consider gifting it instead of sending it to landfill.
Waste at school
Drink tap water – large amounts of energy goes into making, packaging and transporting bottled water and soft drinks. Buy a reusable water bottle or flask, and home water filters are available.
Use a reusable lunchbox or container for your food to reduce the need for plastic wrappings.
Never throw away paper that has only been used on one side, and ask your teacher to print double sided.
Ask your teacher to go paperless, and see if you can hand in assignments on a USB or via email.
Hold a school garage sale, or set up a stall at your school fete, to swap and sell used items like clothes, toys and books.
Start a worm farm or a compost heap. These are great ways to get even the youngest children involved in the environment, while minimising waste at the same time.
Encourage recycling in the classroom and in the playground to reduce rubbish.
Recycle old crayons and pencils instead of buying new every year.
Recycle green waste by setting up a compost bin for canteen and lunchtime leftovers, and then use it to help grow a kitchen garden.
Water at home
Look for the Water Efficiency Label (WELS) on showers; washing machines; dishwashers; toilet equipment; urinal equipment; and kitchen, bathroom and laundry taps. It’s your guide to how water efficient different appliances and fittings can be.
Fit water saving tap filters and put in the plug when you rinse dishes.
Make your garden water-wise by mulching (which reduces evaporation) and planting native plants and drought-resistant lawns.
Wait until your dishwasher and washing machines are full before running them.
Use a pool cover.
Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation.
Don’t leave the tap running while you brush your teeth.
Collect grey water from your washing machine, dishwasher, sinks, showers and bathtubs and use it on the garden. This ‘grey water’ is now the second most common source of water used in Australian homes.
Water at work
Conduct a water audit to identify options, costs, savings and financial returns.
Rectify leaks quickly. A leaking tap can waste up to 200 litres of water a day – check your washers!
Install low flow regulators to taps and showers.
Think about changing toilets to dual flush systems.
Consider choosing water efficient equipment and appliances across all areas of your business.
Assess how your building uses water and keep track of how much is being used to easily identify problem areas.
Don’t run a dishwasher until it is full and use signage to encourage others to save water.
When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.
Water at school
Don’t leave the tap running when washing your hands and always turn taps off tightly when you finish using them.
Wash paint brushes in a bucket or ice cream container.
Nominate water monitors to check for leaking and running taps.
Use brooms rather than hoses to clean up.
Install water tanks for use in gardens.
Mulch gardens to retain moisture in the soil and reduce evaporation, and add water crystals to enhance water absorption in the soil and water plants at their base.
Invite the children to make an environmental map of the community to identify resources and sites in need of protection and improvement.