Since moving to Australia, I’ve become really interested in sustainable living. Australia is a stunning country and I want to do my part to protect and conserve the environment and the incredible wildlife we have here.
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How green living looks for my family
We do lots of different things to live a more sustainable life, to find ways to save energy and to be more eco conscious…
- We recycle as much as possible (we have a stack of recycling tubs to help us organise bottles, cans and glass; bread bags; bread tags; bottle lids; and soft drink cups). (Shop for recycle bins here.)
- We make better choices using eco-friendly products whenever we can, choosing things with eco-friendly packaging and using reuseable cups for coffee. (Shop for travel mugs here).
- We try to be as efficient as we can in what we use. We’re always looking for ways to save energy.
A big move we made towards sustainable living was getting solar panels installed a few years ago. The aim of this was to produce as much of our own energy as possible from the sun, which is a more sustainable source of power PLUS it comes with the added benefit of helping us to reduce our energy bills too. It’s a win-win for families looking to run an energy-efficient home.
How to reduce electricity bill and ways to use less electricity
Getting solar installed cut our family’s energy bill significantly and was our first major steps towards living sustainably and to allow us to save on energy. I’m not going to talk today about the different options for solar but it’s important to do your research to make sure you’re getting the best system for your needs. Not all solar systems are equal, and there are many things that can impact the amount of energy you receive from your system, so do your research.
Since getting solar installed, there are other things that we’ve done as a family to use less electricity, cut our energy bills even further and make our home energy efficient.
Read on to find out how to save electricity and reduce your energy bills and live a more eco-conscious life.
How to save on energy: Find the most affordable energy
Getting solar installed was the best way to save on electric bills for our family. It’s a big investment but has been well worth it as it has been the best way to save on our electricity bill.
If you’re getting solar panels installed, finding the cheapest energy provider for solar will save you money. When you have solar energy, you need to think about feed-in tariffs as well as energy costs. What was the cheapest energy provider before might not be the best energy provider for you with solar. (Even if you don’t have solar installed, shop around as switching energy provider is one of the best ways to save money).
In the months after having solar installed, our bills dropped to roughly half what they were before (with our existing energy provider). But when we switched again after doing thorough research, our bill dropped by more than two-thirds of the old bill. Finding the right supplier for our circumstances gave us a big cost saving. (Since we bought our solar system a few years ago regulations have changed. If installing today you can get an even bigger system and save even more money. Bad timing for us!).
Having access to an app (which we got through our solar installation) helps us to track our energy usage in real-time. You can actually see what impact that kettle or oven is having and this can help you make better energy decisions which, in turn, is one of the ways to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.
In conjunction with getting solar and choosing a cheaper energy supplier, we made other very simple changes to our lifestyle to reduce our energy bills and reduce energy consumption…
More ideas about how to reduce your electricity bill and ways to save energy
Using the dishwasher during the day
We were in the habit of putting the dishwasher on at night after dinner. With solar, to get the maximum benefit it’s important to use the bulk of your energy when the sun is strongest and you’re producing as much energy as possible (as it’s better value to use the energy that we’re producing rather than sell the excess energy back to the grid).
Now, I put the dishwasher on after the school run when the sun is high.
I also use the washing machine during the day, too. And I try to make sure I’m not using it at the same time as running the dishwasher (otherwise between them the power would be so high that we’d be drawing energy from the grid rather than running it from our own energy).
Changing to energy efficient light bulbs
Last year, we went through the huge process of changing the lights throughout our house and we’ve moved to energy-efficient lighting. While we’ve also added more lights (as our house was quite dark), the fact the bulbs are now all energy-efficient means we’ll still be able to save on energy and reduce our electricity bill.
It goes without saying that turning lights off when you aren’t using them is another way of reducing your energy usage.
Having an energy-efficient pool system
A swimming pool can be a big drain on your energy consumption. We saw a big jump in energy costs when we moved from our rental (with no pool) to live in our own home with a pool.
We knew the pool system wasn’t in great condition when we bought the house, so the first thing we had to do when we moved in was to get a new energy-efficient pool system installed. We immediately saw a drop in our energy bill when we switched on the new system. It was another (expensive) way of reducing electric bills, but the cost savings have made it worth it (and as we had to replace the pool system anyway as it wasn’t working properly, moving to an energy-efficient option was an easy choice because of the knock-on effect that it was another way to save energy).
We’ve made our pool even more energy efficient by setting up the pool systems to come on when the sun is high so it’s running on the solar energy we’re producing.
We have a pool cover on the pool too – this reduces evaporation (and topping up the pool regularly costs water usage fees). Our pool isn’t heated, but if it was, a pool cover would also keep the heat in the pool, so a pool cover can also be a way of saving money.
Using a slow cooker and freezing big batches of food for the week
I was amazed when we starting using our energy tracking app at how much energy the oven used in the evening. Luckily, I love cooking big batches of slow cooker dinners (chilli, spaghetti bolognese, stews, curries etc.) so I do a lot more of that sort of cooking now. I’m now on a mission to find an even bigger slow cooker to make batch cooking and freezing meals even easier.
Not only does using a slow cooker save energy when compared with an oven, but it saves my sanity during busy weeknights, and it saves us reaching for the pizza menu because we’re too tired and hungry to cook (so it saves us money AND it keeps us healthier in other ways too)!
Setting the air con a bit higher
It’s good practice to set your air conditioner at a slightly higher temperature.
When we first arrived here, I used to have ours set to 19 degrees in summer and turn it on in short bursts. Then half an hour later, I’d turn it back on again. I assumed having it on less often would be helpful to reduce our energy bill! But then I read that it’s better to set it higher and leave it on.
When you have it set low and put it on in short bursts, the air conditioner has to work extra hard to reduce the temperature. It means it is constantly over working, which means you’re stressing your system out and also as it’s working harder it is costing you more to run.
Now, I have it set for 25 – 27 degrees and leave it on so it can maintain a consistent temperature. Because it stays on, the rooms stay cool enough (rather than getting sweltering and then freezing). And the winning side effect is it’s another way to save energy and cut our electricity bill plus it means our house is comfortable all the time (rather than just for short burts!).
Changing our hot water tank for a more efficient one and changing the element
Earlier this year, our hot water tank was failing and we had to get a new system. My husband did lots of research and chose a new hot water system and he asked if they could install a smaller element than we previously had. We just got our first bill since (and the new water system was in place for two of the three months) and our bill was over $100 lower than at the same period last year. I can’t say the reduction of our electricity bill is only down to the smaller element (as we’ve been implementing a range of the energy-saving methods mentioned in this post in the last 12 months so it’s like a combination of savings) but I think it has definitely had a positive impact on cutting our energy bill.
Eco-conscious work in progress
Living sustainably and being eco-conscious is an ongoing journey and there are plenty of things that are still work in progress for us….
Adding loft insulation
This is a big project that we’ve started. Our home has no loft insulation. This means our house is baking hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. We have a large, low-set house, so it’s a very big job. We’re buying bundles of insulation every so often to spread the cost of installing it as we’re doing a few big DIY projects simultaneously. I think it’s going to make a big difference when it’s finally all done!
We have blinds throughout our house, but I know that adding curtains will be another thing that makes a difference to how hot or cold our house feels. We’re going through every room of our home redecorating them at the moment (it’s a slooooow task!), so adding curtains to each room as we go is part of that process.
For now, on the side of the house that gets the strong afternoon sun, I close the blinds and close the doors to the rooms to keep the rest of the house cooler. Getting some windows tinted is also on our list of jobs to tackle!
Growing our own veggies
As well as renovating our home we’re also planning on landscaping our gardens too, and we’re planning on planting our own fruit and veggies! It won’t save us energy directly but it will mean we’ll be buying fewer things with packaging so it’s another step towards more sustainable living! My kids love the idea of growing our own veg.
Green living and being eco-conscious has benefits
There are lots of ways to live sustainably in Australia.
Energy saving is definitely an area where we can all do more, whether that is conserving energy or being more energy-efficient. The best part is that eco-living and being conscious about how much you use not only helps the environment but it can save you money too! As many of these cost-saving ideas come with a price tag, my top tip is to make changes over time. You don’t need to do everything in one go – just keep taking steps forward.
If you’ve been wondering how to save on your electric bill and reduce your energy consumption I hope you’ve found these tips useful.