When it comes to your heat pump, between 18 and 22 degrees is when it’s most efficient. To ensure it's working efficiently, regular servicing and cleaning are important to maintaining it properly.
Clean out any dust, grime, and debris that might have accumulated in your air filters. These contaminants restrict air flow, forcing your heat pump to work harder and consume more power. Gently open the front panel of your heat pump, remove the filters, and give them a wipe with a damp soft cloth. Pat dry with a soft towel or leave them to dry in the shade before reinserting them and reassembling the pump. The outdoor unit should be free of obstructions, so remove any clutter from the vicinity and trim back any vegetation that might have grown too close to the unit.
Lighting accounts for around 12% of the average household’s electricity consumption. Switching your lighting from incandescent bulbs to LEDs can save you money, as LEDs use around 80% less energy than traditional bulbs while producing the same light output.
Although LEDs cost more upfront, the amount you save on power means that an LED will typically pay for itself in a little over a year. And, LEDs have an expected lifespan of 15,000 hours (compared to 1,000 hours for an incandescent bulb).
Draughts are a common cause of heat loss in older New Zealand homes. Investigate your walls, ceilings, windows, and doors and see if you can identify any draughts. A waterproof sealer can be useful for sealing cracks and joints in your walls and ceilings, while adhesive foam strips can be used around windows and doors. If your doors have keyholes that go all the way through the door, pick up a keyhole cover to stop draughts when the lock is not in use, and invest in a couple of draught sausages to reduce heat loss through the bottom of your internal doors.
Curtains don’t just affect the aesthetic appeal of your home - they can have a major impact on energy efficiency, too! A well-insulated property loses about 45% of its heat through its windows, which means your choice of curtains can directly influence how hard your heating system has to work to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
Ideally, you want to go for thick, heavy-lined curtains that are designed to keep the warm air in during winter and the hot air out over summer. The curtains should be long enough to touch the floor and wide enough that they overlap the window frames. Hot air rises, so for even greater thermal performance consider installing a pelmet to prevent warm air from escaping over the top of your curtains.
Water heating accounts for about 30% of your power bill - and the bulk of that hot water is used in the bathroom. Despite taking shorter showers to reduce your hot water usage, it's not always enough.
A water-saving shower head reduces the flow of water in your shower to help you save on water and power. Whereas regular showerheads might have a flow rate of 12 litres per minute, water-saving showerheads typically have a flow rate of just six to eight litres per minute.
And, despite the lower flow rate, most water-saving showerheads still provide great pressure. They work by pulling air into the water stream, creating larger water droplets, and providing you with a powerful spray, all while saving on water and power. Most department stores have a range of water-saving shower heads to choose from. This basic water-saving shower head from Trade Depot is a decent option and a steal at only $35.
In the average uninsulated home, you lose about 35 percent of heat through the ceiling, 25 percent through the walls and 15 percent through the floors. A well-insulated home is warmer, cheaper to heat and healthier as it reduces the risk of developing mould, mildew and dust mites.
While it’s definitely easier to install insulation when you’re building a new home or during renovations when your walls and ceilings are exposed, it’s also possible to retrofit insulation into an existing property - it’s just a bit trickier. Ceilings and floors are a good place to start as they’re typically easier to access than your walls.
Insulation comes in many different forms, each with its own pros, cons and price point. Check out this handy Smart Homes guide for more information on insulation materials.
The damper your home is, the harder it is to keep you warm - and the more energy you’re going to spend on heating. Water that’s left to collect on windows and walls can also lead to mould, which can impact the health and wellbeing of your family.
This winter, take a proactive approach to condensation and think about ways you can keep your home dry. Keep moisture levels down by opening a window or two during the daytime to allow air to circulate. When you’re cooking or taking a shower, use an extractor fan to remove moisture, and hang your laundry outside or in the garage instead of in your indoor living areas.
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but turning off your appliances when you’re not using them really can have a surprisingly big impact on your power bill.
For example, it costs about 50 cents a day to power a heated towel rail, which works out to be $45 if you were to leave it running all winter. Similarly, a dehumidifier - often your best ally when it comes to combating moisture - costs around $2.50 to run over a 24-hour period - that’s about $225 if you were to keep it running all winter!