March 24, 2014

5 ways to save bucks and the Planet

Earth Hour is on our doorstep at the end of this month. So, time to stock up on candles and gather your loved ones for a picnic and some dancing in the dark in the name of Mother Nature.

For those 'out-of-the-know', Earth Hour is not a deep forest rave party - its a worldwide community campaign held each year on the last Saturday night of March. For an hour, people and businesses across the world have been turning off their lights to raise awareness about climate change, its impacts and solutions. But these days, Earth Hour is about much more than turning your lights off for an hour.

Earth Hour now is about taking steps and actions that aim to make a few lasting changes to your environmental footprint and energy use at home?  You don’t have to resort to long term candlelit activities to make huge cost savings (although no one can deny the romantic appeal).

Here's 5 ways you could potentially save hundreds of dollars each year on your energy bills and lend the Planet a helping hand and reduce carbon pollution.

1. Light it up

Around 10% of your energy bills comes from the way you light your home. Switch off lightsin rooms when not being used, and you can save $120 a year - so easy! You can replace lights simply with energy efficient compact fluorescent light globes or LEDs. You know it's been on your to-do list for a while. These are available at hardware stores, supermarkets and specialty eco-product stores. Even keeping lights and fittings clean can save you pennies dusty or dirty globes and fittings can reduce light output by up to 50%.

2. Turn it down

The biggest energy guzzler (40% of the average electricity bill!) is heating and cooling your home. As the colder weather tickles your toes, try not to overheat your house. Every extra degree increase in temperature can add up to 15% on your energy bill (equivalent to around $150 for the average home). Set the thermostat to between 18-21°C.  

Air leaks can account for 15 to 25% of heat loss - so dust off your DIY skills and install draught excluders on your windows and doors. They are cheap and available from most hardware stores.

3. Switch it off

Do you know that you could be throwing away $100 a year without doing anything? Appliances still consume electricity if they are turned on at the power point, even while idle.  Switch your TV, computer, phone charger, hair dryer off at the wall when you are done using them. A simple fix that will leave more money in your pocket .

4. Cold water love

Water heating accounts for about a quarter of most household bills. Having shorter showers (dare I say it) helps keep dollars in your pocket. As does using cold water for washing - it's just as good as a warm wash and you can save about $35 each year off your power bill, even more if you are a compulsive clothes washer.

5. Say goodbye to second fridge 

It’s free and easy through the Fridge Buyback Program (www.fridgebuyback.com.au). Old fridges are one of the biggest energy users in the home, consuming up to three times the energy of new fridges. Even while it keeps the beers cold, it's got to be sobering to know that running a typical second fridge adds an average of $300 a year to your power bill and puts one tonne of carbon pollution into the environment. Yikes!

Earth Hour Starlight Picnic

Join other Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick residents for entertainment and activities on Saturday 29 March for a special Earth Hour picnic at Bondi Beach Park. www.reduceyourfootprint.com.au

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