A healthier home for less: Appliances

Information sourced from Genless.govt.nz, an EECA initiative.

Your household appliances could be quietly consuming a whole lot of energy and inflating your power bills. However, you might be able to fix that with some simple tweaks, the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) says. Use their helpful tool to filter and compare energy efficient products and find the right one for your home. Here are a few common appliances you use every day.

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1. Heating

It’s important to consider how much heat you need to heat different-sized rooms, and the running costs of the heater. Running costs can be minimised by using the heater correctly and maintaining it well.

What you can do:

  • Turn your heaters and heat pumps off when you don’t need them.
  • Set your heater thermostat to keep the temperature consistent at between 18 and 20˚C. 
  • Many heaters are only big enough to heat one room, so close doors and in the evening, pull curtains. Keep the door shut, unless you have central heating.

2. Washing machines

Washing on a warm cycle can use up to 10 times as much energy as a cold wash. Saving energy begins with choosing the right washing machine, but if you’re not planning to change, there are other small steps you can take.

What you can do: 

  • Switch to cold washes. Unfortunately, most machines are set to a warm wash by default, but changing it can mean heaps of savings.
  • Do full loads of laundry rather than several small wash loads.
  • Group clothes by fabric type, dirtiness level and colour. Wash mildly soiled clothes in cold water and only really dirty ones in warm water.

3. Clothes dryers

Clothes dryers use a lot of electricity - an average load costs around a dollar to dry. By using your dryer sensibly, and choosing to dry clothes outside on the clothesline, you could save $100 or more a year

What you can do: 

  • Don’t use your dryer when the weather is good. Dry your clothes outside on a clothesline if possible. It costs nothing and is great for the planet
  • Avoid overloading the dryer.
  • Clean the lint filter regularly.
  • Group clothes by weight and dry separately. Heavy items like denims take longer to dry than lightweight clothes.
  • If you have a vented dryer, make sure the vents face outside.
  • Avoid line drying inside as the moisture can make your house damp.
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4. Dishwashers

Choosing an efficient dishwasher can save you up to $600 in energy costs over 10 years, compared to using an inefficient model.

What you can do:

  • Load fully (but don’t overload) before running a cycle. 
  • Use the eco option if your machine has one, and set this as the default. Only run a regular or hot cycle to remove any grease build-up.
  • Rinse in cold water before loading your dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Use soapy water and a brush to clean the filter and check the spray arms regularly.

5. Fridges & Freezers

A good energy efficient refrigerator can bring down your electricity bill considerably. Even if you pay a bit more upfront, you will save much more in the long run.

What you can do:

  • Don’t put hot food in. Allow food to cool down before storing it.
  • Avoid opening the door too often, and don’t leave it open for long either.
  • Position in a cool area. Don’t keep next to the oven or in direct sunlight.
  • Replace fridges that are more than 20 years old. Older models are less energy efficient and may contain chemicals that are harmful for the environment.
  • Clean the coils at the back and keep dust away.
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6. Televisions

Your TV might be one of the biggest electricity users in the home - at worst, using more power than your fridge.

What you can do:

When purchasing, consider that the bigger your screen is, the more power it will need to run. [MH1]

  • Switch off when not in use.
  • Reduce screen brightness to an appropriate level.
  • Look for energy efficient models. Read more about energy ratings here.

Use Gen Less' helpful tool to filter and compare energy efficient products and find the right one for your home.

[MH1] Not always, but correct compared to our website yes

You can help make a difference!

Help to keep thousands of Kiwis experiencing hardship warm this winter by making a donation to Whānau Āwhina Plunket and Variety - the Children's Charity.