Reducing your water and energy bills
Last published 01 Jun 2020
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.
This factsheet tells you:
- How to use less energy and water in your home, including in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry
- Tips for warming and cooling
- How to check for, and report leaks
Reducing your energy use in winter
Energy bills are generally higher in winter because people use heaters, often take longer showers and have the lights on longer due to less daylight. To avoid large energy bills during the colder months, here are some tips:
- Only use heaters when necessary, as they are one of the biggest energy users in your home
- Portable heaters and coolers can be cheap to buy but cost you more if they are expensive to run
- If you have a gas connection, gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters
- 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
- Keep doors closed to keep the warm or cool air where you need it most
- Use door snakes to stop cold air from creeping in under doors in winter
- Add an extra layer of clothing or 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 cut your energy bill by up to 10%.
Tips for warming and cooling
Did you know about 38% of your household’s energy 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.
Close windows, doors, blinds and curtains in the afternoon to keep in the warmth and keep out the cold.
Open windows and doors in the early morning and late afternoon to allow cool air into your home, but make sure you keep secure.
Opening windows on opposite sides of your home for a cross-breeze can make your home feel cooler
Close doors to rooms you aren't using, to only heat the space you need.
Keep windows, curtains and blinds closed in the hottest part of the day to keep cool air in and heat out.
A lower temperature setting on your heater will use less electricity. Decreasing the temperature by 1°C can reduce heating energy use by 10%. You should set heaters between 18°C to 20°C
If your home is too hot, go somewhere cool like a library, shopping centre or the movies.
A higher temperature setting on your air conditioner will use less energy. Increasing the temperature by 1°C can reduce cooling energy use by 10%. You should set air conditioners to 26°C.
In the kitchen
The kitchen can use a lot of energy. By cutting down energy use, choosing smart appliances and saving water, you can reduce your environmental impact. Some ways to do this in the kitchen are:
- Thaw frozen foods on the bottom shelf of the fridge so they 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 container 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 water running
- Leaking taps cost you money. Report them immediately.
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 fridges.
- Fridges work 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.
No Interest Loans Schemes (NILS) are available in some areas to help low-income households make important purchases like fridges. Information on no or low interest loans is available from MoneySmart at www.moneysmart.gov.au/borrowing-and-credit/other-types-of-credit/no-or-low-interest-loans
Laundry and bathroom
There are many easy steps you can take 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.
Follow the tips below to start saving water and money.
- Use the cold wash setting for your clothes and wait until you have a full load
- Consider buying a front-loading washing machine, which generally 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
- Consider using NILS for household purchases like washing machines.
- Hot water heating can be a third of your electricity bill so saving hot water will save you money
- Reduce 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
- Take shorter showers – you use about 2 buckets a minute. We have installed water efficient showerheads in most homes. Please do not remove them. They reduce the amount of water you use, helping you save money and electricity.
Checking for leaks
Leaking taps and toilets cost 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 four minute shower with a water efficient showerhead uses only around 36 litres of water.
Check your plumbing for any drips or leaks.
- Make sure you turn off all taps, 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 happens, check:
- water isn’t running in the toilet bowl
- the hot water service isn’t leaking onto the ground
- 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 us as soon as you notice a problem. If you live in community housing, contact your housing provider directly.
Housing Contact Centre 1800 422 322
Our commitment to the environment
We have updated our policies to ensure new homes are more energy and water efficient. We have installed a range of programs to upgrade existing homes.
Some of our achievements include installing:
- ceiling insulation in 13,590 homes in cold areas
- over 3,800 solar hot water systems
- over 100,000 water efficient showerheads