Energy Saving Hints – Water

Here are some hints for improving your homes energy efficiency and saving you money.

Whatever hot water system you have, here are some simple ways to reduce your energy use. It is not just about energy savings. When your water use is metered, every litre you save – be it hot or cold – saves you money.

Water flow rate

  • Ease your shower flow. If your shower fills a ten litre bucket in under a minute, you’re wasting water. Replace your shower head for one with a more efficient flow rate of nine litres a minute or less and you will cut your hot water use significantly. Or install an cheaper shower flow restrictor to your existing shower (nine litres a minute or less). Reducing your water flow rate by one litre per minute will save you around $80 per year.
  • Ease your tap flow. Flow control aerators for taps cost between $10 and $30 and can halve the volume of water used while still getting good pressure. A good solution for taps over sinks or tubs that aren’t regularly filled so the water flow volume is less important.
  • Fix dripping hot taps. These can waste around seven litres of water every day, and potentially around $40 of energy each year. Replace the washer or fitting for a few dollars.
  • Choose efficient water using products. Water efficiency labels appear on showers and taps, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines. These tell you how much water the product uses. Like energy rating labels, water efficiency labels use a star rating to show how water-efficient a product is.  The more stars, the more efficiently it uses water.

Keep in the heat

  • Wrap your hot water cylinder and pipes. Electric hot water cylinders made before 2002 are not insulated all that well, so should be wrapped in appropriate insulation. Insulating the hot water pipes will also help preserve energy. Wraps cost around $60 and pipe insulation is about $5 a metre. For older cylinder and pipes manufactured before 1987 insulation could save you up to $85 a year.
  • Check your hot water temperature. To prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria the cylinder should be set to 60°C and no more than 55°C at the tap to avoid scalding. Depending on your cylinder, you may need an electrician or plumber to adjust your thermostat. Even an extra 10°C on the thermostat of your hot water system could be costing you $30 a year.
  • Maintain your hot water system regularly. If you have one, gently move the easing lever of the temperature/pressure relief valve every six months to stop it sticking.

Easy hot water habits

With some easy, everyday hot water habits you can cut your energy use – and your environmental impacts – even more.

  • Wash your clothes in cold water. If you do four loads a week, you could save  around $55 – $80 a year.
  • Fill the basin rather than leaving the hot water running when doing things like shaving.
  • Shower rather than bath – it generally uses only half as much water and energy.
  • Avoid the hour long shower. In a household of three, each minute you add to your shower time is about $90 a year.
  • Rinse dishes with cold rather than hot water.
  • Run the dishwasher when it is fully loaded, and on an ‘eco’, ‘half load’ or ‘fast’ wash setting if you have it..
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