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Tips for choosing appliances and lighting for an energy efficient home.

Published on June 7, 2018

Are you considering buying new electrical appliances for your new home?  Do you want to reduce the cost of your electricity bills? We continue our series here, on choosing the right appliances and lighting for an energy efficient home.

Household appliances account for about 40% of energy consumption in most Australian homes.  In addition, lighting is responsible for around 6%.  Therefore, nearly half your electricity bill is for these two items alone. This is why if you want an energy efficient home, it is important that you do your research.

Electrical Appliances

Making a wise choice when purchasing electrical appliances will have a significant impact on your energy efficient home.  The appliances which are used most often and will have the most effect on your power bills include:

  • Washing Machines

The water and energy efficiency of a washing machine has a significant impact on its’ cost.  A more efficient machine will have a higher star rating.  Unfortunately the cost of a washing machine increases as the rating increases.  Whilst this affects the hip pocket at the initial purchase, the on-going impact on the family budget will be less.

The popularity of front loader machines over top loaders is more about aesthetics and they are often more expensive.   However whilst there is a variance on energy efficiency, it is widely considered that front loading machines are more water efficient than their top loading cousins.

  • Dishwashers

As with washing machines, making the right choice when purchasing a dishwasher can certainly impact the family budget. In Australia we have a system called Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS).  This is used to rate different electrical appliances which use water in their operation.  All appliances sold in Australia are required to advertise the star ratings from zero to six, of that machine, based on water consumption.   The higher the star rating, the more water efficient the appliance will be.

Similarly the yellow and red label shown on electrical appliances indicates the energy efficiency.  Again as with washing machines, dishwashers with higher energy and water ratings will consequently have a higher initial cost.

  • Refrigerators

Refrigerators are right up there with air-conditioners when it comes to Television – 10 Starusing power. For an energy efficient home it is important to consider the needs of your family and therefore the size of the fridge you require.  Having a larger fridge, whilst it looks great in your kitchen, can certainly impact your hip pocket.   A 200/300 litre fridge will cost about $135 a year to run, whilst a fridge with a capacity of around 600/700 will be around $450.

Again, the higher the star rating the higher the initial cost.  Usually the maximum star rating is six stars however we are now seeing super-efficient refrigerators coming on the market.  These appliances can have between 7 and 10 stars as shown here.

Lighting

Another way to achieve an energy efficient home is to consider your lighting requirements.  We have already discussed that larger windows and doors increase the amount of natural light coming into the energy efficient home.  Where these windows are located will also determine whether you will need additional lighting at different times of the day.

Most rooms require two different ways to light a room.  There is usually a ceiling light to provide overall brightness.  Often too, you would use smaller lamps or light fittings to illuminate specific areas. This is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms where correct lighting is paramount. In bedrooms the use of softer bedside lighting can provide a calming ambience.  It is important to give considerable attention to the design, location and function of the light fitting you use, to ensure an energy efficient home.

A great way to increase light into an otherwise dark room is by installing a skylight. A fixed skylight can provide additional brightness using the natural light.  However there are many skylights now available with an opening vent.  These models have the additional advantage of providing ventilation.  Consequently ambient heat in a room can be expelled through this vent providing a natural cooling effect.

Many factors can determine the cost to power lights and electrical appliances.  To ensure your energy efficient home maximises the benefits, you should check with your electricity supplier.  Flexible pricing and off peak tariffs can have a significant effect on your electricity bills.  As a consequence you could save heaps on your family’s budget and that could mean more family holidays!!

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