Reducing your water and energy bills
Last published 10 Nov 2017
Use energy and water more efficiently so you spend less on bills
Reducing your energy use
Making small changes at home can help you use less energy and save money on your bills.
Energy bills are generally higher in winter because people use heaters, often take longer showers and have the lights on longer due to shorter daylight hours. Being careful about how you use energy at home can help you avoid a large energy bill during the colder months.
- Heaters are one of the biggest energy users in your home, so only use them when necessary.
- Portable heaters and coolers can be cheap to buy but cost you more if they are expensive to run.
- Gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters to operate.
- Fans are the cheapest and most energy efficient form of cooling.
- If you can, set a timer on your heater when you go to bed so it isn't running all night long.
- Keep doors closed to keep the warm or cool air where you need it most.
- Stop cold air from creeping in under doors in winter by using door snakes.
- Try adding an extra layer of clothing or extra blankets to help keep you warm.
- Switch off lights when you leave a room to use less electricity.
- Turn off TVs, DVD players, computers, mobile phone chargers, etc at the power point. Turning off standby power can save you up to 10% off your energy bill.
Tips for warming and cooling
Did you know? About 38% of your household’s energy use is used for heating. This makes it the largest energy user in the average home.
Open windows, doors, blinds and curtains during the day to allow fresh air and natural light into your home.
Open windows and doors in the early morning and late afternoon to allow cool air into your home, but make sure you don't compromise your security. Opening windows on opposite sides of your home for cross ventilation can make your home feel cooler.
Close windows, doors, blinds and curtains in the afternoon to keep in the warmth and keep out the cold.
Keep windows, curtains and blinds closed in the hottest part of the day to keep cool air in and heat out.
Only heat the space you need by closing doors to rooms you aren't using at the time.
If your home is too hot, go somewhere cool like a library, shopping centre or the movies.
When using heaters, a lower temperature setting will use less electricity to warm your home. Decreasing the temperature by 1°C can reduce heating energy use by 10%. It is recommended to set heaters between 18°C and 20°C.
When using an air conditioner, a higher temperature setting will use less energy to cool your home. Increasing the temperature by 1°C can reduce cooling energy use by 10%. It is recommended to set air conditioners to 26°C.
In the kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most energy-intensive rooms in the home. By cutting down energy use, choosing smart appliances and saving water, you can reduce your environmental impact.
- Thaw frozen foods on the bottom shelf of the fridge before cooking, they will take less time to cook.
- Boil water in the kettle rather than the stove. Only boil the water you need, don't overfill your kettle.
- Use the smallest amount of water needed in pots and use the lid when boiling water on the stove.
- Cooking in a microwave is more energy efficient than using an oven.
- Rinse fruit and veggies in a plastic container in the sink instead of running the tap. You can use the water on your garden afterwards.
- Fill the sink to wash your dishes instead of leaving the hot tap running.
- Leaking taps are costing you money. Report leaking taps immediately to your housing provider.
When buying a new fridge or kitchen appliance, check the energy rating and buy the most energy efficient one you can afford. New fridges with a high star rating can cost as little as $50 per year to operate compared to $190 per year for older refrigerators.
No Interest Loans Schemes (NILS) are available in some areas to help low income households make important household purchases like fridges. Information on no or low interest loans is available from MoneySmart.
- Fridges operate best away from sunlight and ovens.
- Check the seals on your fridge to prevent cold air from leaking out.
- Regularly defrost your freezer to help it run more efficiently.
- Set the temperature on your fridge between 3° to 5°C and freezers -15° to -18°C.
- Leave a gap at the back of the fridge to allow air to circulate behind it.
- Don't use a second fridge. If you really need a second fridge, turn it off when you aren't using it.
Laundry and bathroom
There are a number of simple things you can do to reduce the amount of power and water you use in your home and save money.
Sydney Water tells us that about 27% of water is used outdoors, 24% on showers, 20% in the laundry, 16% on flushing the toilet and 13% in the kitchen and bathroom.
Just follow the tips below to start saving water and money.
- Use the cold wash setting for your clothes.
- Wait until you have a full load of washing – an average washing machine uses about 11 buckets a load.
- Consider buying water-efficient washing machines such as a front-loading machine that uses much less water that a top-loading machine.
- Hang your washing to dry rather than use an electric dryer. If you do use a dryer, regularly check the lint filter to prevent fires.
- If you are buying a new washing machine, buy the most water and energy efficient one you can afford. Front loaders are generally more efficient than top loaders.
No Interest Loans Schemes (NILS) are available in some areas to help low income households make important household purchases like washing machines. Information on no or low interest loans is available from MoneySmart.
- Hot water heating can be a third of your electricity bill so saving hot water will save you money.
- Take shorter showers. It will save water and energy. Reducing your shower by a couple of minutes can save you up to $100 off your energy bill each year.
- Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving – this uses about 2 buckets a minute.
- Shorten your shower time – you use about 2 buckets a minute. FACS Housing has installed water-efficient showerheads in most homes. These showerheads reduce the amount of water you use helping you save money and electricity. Please do not remove them.
Checking for leaks
Leaking taps and toilets are costing you money.
- A leaking toilet can waste 16,000 litres of water a year.
- A dripping tap can waste 24,000 litres of water a year.
A 4 minute shower with a water efficient showerhead uses only around 36 litres of water.
Check your plumbing for any drips or leaks.
- Make sure all taps are turned off, including the washing machine and dishwasher.
- Check your water meter – if the numbers are turning over it means that water is running somewhere in your home. If this is happening, check:
- that water isn’t running into the toilet bowl
- that the hot water service isn’t leaking onto the ground
- that taps aren’t leaking inside or outside your home.
Report dripping taps, running cisterns, leaking hot water service or pipes and faulty water connections to FACS as soon as you notice a problem. If you live in community housing, contact your housing provider directly.
FACS Housing's commitment to sustainability
With rising energy and water prices, there are many things we can all do to save money and also help the environment.
We have updated our policies to ensure that new homes are more energy and water efficient and we have implemented a range of programs to upgrade existing homes.
Some of our achievements include installing:
- ceiling insulation in 13,590 homes in cold climate areas
- over 3,800 solar hot water systems
- over 100,000 water efficient showerheads