Other appliances

Everyday appliances such as fridges, TV’s, stereos, kettles, dishwashers, and just about everything else you plug into the wall at home contribute to around 15% of the electricity consumption of the average home.  It is important that choose and use these appliances wisely.  There are schemes around to assist you in doing just that.

Buying new appliances

Most major appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, some air conditioners are sold with energy labels attached. This is part of the Australian Governments Energy Rating system, which requires manufactures to have their products tested for energy consumption. The Star Rating sticker on the appliance shows its comparative energy consumption – the more energy stars, the more efficient the appliance.

So, when you are next shopping for one of these appliances, look for the Star Rating sticker and aim for the highest star rating. Not only will you be saving energy, but over the life of the appliances, you could save hundreds of dollars. The Star Rating label also displays the estimated electricity consumption of the appliance, over a year. To find out the cost of running that appliance – simply multiply this figure by the cost of electricity (you’ll find this on your electricity bill).

When you buy new appliances it is important to be aware of recent changes in the energy rating system. New standards for energy efficiency were introduced in 2010 and all fridge/freezer models were given new star ratings to reflect these more stringent standards. However, some display models may still carry the old star rating label.

Old labels carry a green bar at the base while new labels carry a white bar which inlcudes the enrgy rating website address.

Remember, the star ratings are meant to assist householders to compare similar sized appliances, in each category. For more information on the Star Rating system, or to search for the most efficient appliances, click here

Using appliances wisely

Buying the most efficient appliances is the first step to reducing energy use – its also important to use them wisely to maximise the savings. Follow these simple tips and you could save hundreds of dollars off your electricity bill each year:

Standby Power
  • Cut out the stand by power - many appliances like TV’s, stereo’s, playstations, use a small amount of energy whilst on ‘standby-by’. Turning these appliances off at the wall could save you $100 a year.
  • Sometimes it’s not convenient to turn appliances off at the wall, particularly if the switch is behind a cabinet or obstructed by the appliance itself. In this case, there are a number of low cost gadgets available to make it easier for you. Check out more about these gadgets here.
Laundry & Dishwashing
  •  Always use the sun to dry your clothes – the Alice Springs climate is ideal for fast clothes drying, even inside (ie away from the dust!). Using a clothes dryer just once / week can cost around $100/year.
  • Only use dishwashers and washing machines when they are full.
  • Use Economy cycles whenever possible.
  • Use cold wash settings on your washing machine if you have an electric or gas water heater, or if the hot water is not connected to the machine. Most of the electricity use associated with washing is due to water heating, either with an electric element in the machine itself or from the electric water heater.
  • When cooking a meal, make a few extra portions so you can store them and reheat in the microwave – it’s quicker and more energy efficient than cooking from scratch every night.
  • Slow cookers are also an efficient way to cook casseroles and other dishes that may otherwise require long cooking times in the oven. An hour in an electric oven can use more electricity than 8 hours of slow cooking.
Computers, Laptops & Other Devices
  • Computers and Laptops are not high energy users, but are often left on when not in use for the sake of convenience. Look for the energy saver settings in the Power Options on the Control Panel, and set them to power down when not in use. 
  • Many new computers have an Eco- setting, which minimises electricity usage by adjusting screen settings and minimising the activity of the hard drive. Check if your computer has this function.
  • It is often the peripheral devices such as printers that use the most electricity in computing. Turn these off until you need them.
  • Most devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and other small rechargeable devices don’t use a lot of electricity. However, they will keep drawing power once they are fully charged if they are left plugged in. Unplug these devices once they are fully recharged.

Energy efficient gadgets

 Whether you’re a tech-savvy teen or a technophobic traditionalist, there is a range of simple gadgets available which make it easier for everyone to get smart when it comes to consuming electricity. A number of these items are on display in the Smart Living Centre – why not come in for a demonstration? To purchase any of these items, check out your local electrical retailer or see what’s available online.

Here are a few of the gadgets available:

Wireless Energy Monitors

If you want to know how much electricity you are using on a day to day basis, getting a bill every 3 months isn’t particularly helpful, especially if you are looking for ways to save. A wireless energy monitor uses a transmitter to measure the current running through the main cable of your switchboard, and sends this information to a display inside your home. The display shows you your current electricity usage and costs, and gives you daily, weekly or monthly totals, giving you real-time access to your electricity consumption patterns and enabling you to alter your behaviour accordingly.

There is a range of energy monitoring devices available. Check out the Cent@meter, Current Cost EnviR, ClimateSmart, Efergy e2, or Watts Clever.

Energy-saving Powerboards

Powerboards are a common feature in most homes and are often in service where multiple appliances are in use simultaneously, such as entertainment systems. An energy-saving powerboard has one ‘main’ socket and a number of sockets for other appliances. Once the appliance in the main socket, for example the TV, is turned off via remote control, the powerboard senses the drop in current and powers down the peripheral devices too.

Remote Control Mains Outlets

Do you leave appliances on stand-by because it’s just so inconvenient to reach down behind a cabinet to turn them off at the wall? Well this needn’t be the case anymore – simply insert the plug units into the wall and plug your appliance or powerboard into it. Now you can turn the appliance off at the flick of a switch on the remote control! These typically come with 3 plug units and 1 remote and cost less than $50.

Convenience Switches

Convenience switches are another way to make it more convenient to access those hard to reach wall sockets. An extended cable has an on/off switch controlling power to the appliance or powerboard, meaning you can position the switch in a handy location and turn appliances off at the wall without having to reach the wall.

Plug Timers

Timers are a good way to control appliances that can be costly if accidentally left running for too long. Put your electric heaters on a timer so they don’t get left on all night, and use one for your pool pump to ensure a consistent pool pumping regime.

Power Meters

Do you want to know how much electricity an appliance uses, how much it costs to run, or how much CO2 results from using it? A power monitoring device helps you do that. Simply plug one into the wall, plug in your appliance, turn it on and the device will give you an instant reading of electricity use. Leave it in for a while and it can tell you how much it will cost to run over an extended period of time. This is a great tool for educating your household about the relative cost of appliances (especially if you want to deduct the cost from the kids’ pocket money).