At a glance
You can do many things to reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your home comfortable all year round.
If you're renovating or planning to build a new home, make your home energy efficient from the start. With good design, you can reduce your energy bills without compromising your comfort. You'll also recover the upfront costs with savings over the longer term. A well-planned, energy-efficient home may even increase the value of your home. See our information on passive design and building and renovating for energy efficiency.
For your existing home, there are also many ways to reduce energy bills, improve comfort and help reduce your impact on the environment. See our understand heating and cooling information.
Save on heating costs
Try these ideas to reduce the need for mechanical heating:
- Insulate your ceiling, roof, walls and floors if possible.
- Seal draughts around doors and windows with weather strips—these only cost a few dollars per roll and stop air coming in or leaking out which can make a big difference to your comfort levels. Close doors to rooms that you are not using, such as the laundry and bathroom.
- If you have windows or vents that are permanently open, keep the doors to these rooms closed.
- Open curtains during the day to let in the winter sun. Close curtains at night to stop heat loss.
- Use rugs or carpets on timber or slab floors.
- Consider double-glazing to insulate windows.
- Cover the tops of curtains with pelmet boxes to reduce heat loss through glass windows.
- Fit downlight covers and vent covers to prevent heat rising from your rooms into your ceiling.
- Dress appropriately to stay warm and reduce the effects of draughts. Put on a jumper before turning on the heater.
Choose an efficient heating option
If you're buying a new heater, consider what type of heater will suit your circumstances.
Understand heating and cooling and Your Home provide further information about heating and cooling. You can also speak to experts and retailers about various options and their benefits and disadvantages.
Before buying a new heater, think about:
- Does the room need mechanical heating or will it be enough to eliminate draughts, improve insulation and dress warmly?
- How many rooms need to be heated and how big are they?
- How much will the new heater cost to run?
- How often and for how long will you need heating?
- What options do you have for powering the heater?
- Does the heater come with a timer so that you are only heating the room when required?
Save on cooling costs
Try these ideas to reduce the need for mechanical cooling:
- Insulate your ceiling, roof, walls and floors if possible.
- Shade windows from the summer sun. External shading devices such as awnings, roller blinds and one metre deep eaves on north-facing walls provide the most effective barrier against heat gain.
- Depending on your home and climate, window films can be a cost effective way of reducing solar heat gain, and can be applied to existing glass windows at low cost.
- Deciduous trees can be an attractive way to shade windows, walls and your roof.
- Close curtains to keep heat out when the sun is on the windows and keep windows shut in the hottest parts of the day.
- Open up your home to breezes in the evenings and when it's cool outside.
- Make the most of natural airflow by opening low-positioned windows to bring the breeze in and high windows to let the hot air out.
- Where appropriate consider using roof ventilators, vented ridges and ventilated eaves to allow heat to escape from your roof space.
- Remove obstacles that can stop the flow of cool air through your house.
Choose an efficient cooling option
If you're looking to buy a cooling system, consider what type will suit your circumstances.
There are three types of mechanical cooling systems: fan, evaporative coolers and air conditioners.
- Fans are the cheapest to run and use the least amount of energy. If a fan is used wisely it can be enough to cool your home, saving you a lot of money and energy.
- Evaporative coolers work well in areas with low humidity as the air can absorb water vapour. New evaporative coolers are usually the cheapest type of cooling to buy and are not very expensive to run.
- Air conditioners use more energy and create more greenhouse gas emissions than fans or evaporative coolers. They work most efficiently in well-insulated homes. All air conditioning systems must be installed, maintained and removed by a technician holding a Refrigerant Handling Licence.
Before buying a new cooler, think about:
- Does the room need additional cooling or is it enough to improve shading and ventilation?
- How big an area do you need to cool?
- What type of cooling do you need—an air conditioner to cool the air itself or a fan that will increase air flow and help to create a cool breeze.
- How much will the new cooler cost to run? You can compare the energy use and running costs of different air conditioners on the Energy Rating website.
- How often and for how long will you need cooling?
- Does the cooler come with a timer so that you are only cooling the room when required?
- Do you want one cool room or a system for more than one room?
- What options do you have for powering the cooler—for example gas or electricity?
Operate heaters and air conditioners efficiently
Once you install a heater or air conditioner there are some simple things you can do to reduce your electricity bill and save energy:
- Follow the relevant recommendations for saving on heating and cooling costs above.
- Install the air conditioner (or outdoor unit of a split system) on the shady side of the building (or shade the air conditioner itself) and make sure the air flow around it isn't obstructed.
- Set the room temperature between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius in winter and between 25 to 27 degrees Celsius in summer. Check the temperature after the unit has been operating for 30 minutes.
- When a hot day is expected, turn on the air conditioner early rather than wait until the building becomes hot. It operates more efficiently when the outside air temperature is cooler.
- If you have ceiling fans and air conditioning installed, switch off your air conditioner once you have cooled the room to the desired temperature and then use your fan to circulate the conditioned air.
- Keep windows and doors closed when using reverse cycle air conditioners. Evaporative air conditioners require some air flow so you need to keep some windows open.
- If your air conditioner has adjustable louvres, adjust them towards the ceiling when cooling, and towards the floor when heating (as cool air falls and hot air rises).
- Cover vents from heating and cooling systems when not in use to prevent unwanted heat gain or loss.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for filter cleaning to improve airflow and efficiency and keep your heating and cooling appliances well maintained.
- Ensure you read the maintenance instructions or contact the manufacturer to get advice on any health and safety features and how to use your system safely.