There’s simple ways to live more sustainably, like growing your own food and recycling. But you could also save on big bills around the home.
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Recent research from the Commonwealth Bank showed more than 70 per cent of the 1000 Australians surveyed wish to lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
We’re also a cost-conscious bunch. Nearly 40 per cent of people surveyed said they’ve changed when they use appliances around the house to try and save money.
The research indicates consumers want to know when it’s cheaper to run their appliances during off-peak hours, with almost 70 per cent saying they’d adjust their routine if it meant saving money.
But there’s more to it than that if you’re thinking about ‘going green’ and finding more wiggle room in the budget along the way.
Here we’ve pulled together 10 simple ideas to help you live a greener lifestyle and cut costs.
1. Switch to renewable energy
One way to reduce your carbon footprint could be to switch to a green energy provider, which could even save you money.
According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, renewables are now the cheapest form of electricity in the National Energy Market.
Adelaide resident Oscar Williams managed to save himself money by going green and signing up to energy provider Amber, which allowed him to just pay wholesale prices for a small cost of $15 each month for access to renewable energy.
Mr Williams said that once in a while, the provider actually pays him to use his electricity around the home and charge up his Tesla.
There are a range of start-ups bringing cheap, green energy to Australia, including Amber and Allume Energy.
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2. Drive an electric car
According to the Victorian Government, an electric vehicle can reduce your environmental impact and save you money in the long run. While they might be more expensive to buy at first, they have lower operating costs over time.
And, fortunately, the number of electric car models in Australia is increasing, so there’s more choice available.
The Electric Vehicle Council, which represents the local electric vehicle industry, has a tool you can use to calculate the cost benefits of owning an electric car compared to your current car.
Mr Williams switched to electric with his Tesla car, and his partner could be joining him soon.
“Both of us want to have electric cars,” he said. “I currently have my Tesla and my partner has a hybrid car but once that needs to be upgraded we’ll get another Tesla.”
3. Switch to smart lighting
According to the Commonwealth Bank, smart lighting systems can save you power and money – LEDs last five to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use around one-quarter of the power.
“You can further reduce your power bills by using a system that turns lights and electronic devices on and off as they’re needed, and daylight sensors that adjust the globes’ output depending on how much ambient light is in a room,” the bank states.
Smart home experts at Legrand say smart downlights are the way to go for renters, as you can connect your downlights to your smart device for remote control.
“They’re great for energy efficiency, adjusting brightness to save energy and offer a timer to turn lights on and off when not in use or when you’re away from the home and remember you left the lights on,” Legrand spokesperson Jason Neophytou said.
“On average, lighting in Australian homes consumes 8-15% of the average household electricity budget, or about 6% of its energy use.”
Could you save on your power bills?
4. Grow your own food
A sustainable food garden could be a good way to save money, attract bees and other pollinators, according to Commonwealth Bank’s sustainability tips.
“Even in a smaller space, you can plant family favorites such as tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs. And for any leftovers, try beeswax wrap instead of plastic,” the bank suggests.
Having your own food supply could also cut down costs at the supermarket, particularly when fresh foods are in hot demand.
5. Be smart with heating and cooling
There are a few things you can do to cut cooling bills during summer and heating bills in winter.
Rather than blasting the airconditioning when the temperature changes, the Australian Energy Regulator recommends setting it to 26 degrees in summer and 18 degrees in winter.
You can also try to use fans instead of airconditioning, and reduce draughts in the colder months by closing windows, doors and curtains.
You might also like to use a draft excluder to stop wind coming in under your door, or to help keep the cool air inside.
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6. Switch to solar
You might consider drawing electricity directly from solar panels on your roof as a means to live greener and save on energy bills.
Note that solar panels themselves aren’t an entirely green option because manufacturing them does negatively impact the environment, but it does provide certainty in the long run that your energy is ‘green’.
According to solar panel installers Solaray Energy the panels can cost around $9,000 to install and take about three or four years for the system to pay for itself.
As a general rule, they say solar panels save around $400 per year per kW.
7. Switch on smart switches
According to Legrand, there are a range of smart switches and power points on the market that are designed to automate power use and designate it to day-to-day activities.
You could operate lights, airconditioning and other devices that use power from the touch of a button on your phone.
“You can also control your home remotely and turn off individual appliances at the switch, saving you the headache of wondering if you turned your straightener or iron off too,” Mr Neophytou said.
8. Be savvy with water usage
Another idea to keep things green around your home is to be savvy with how you use water, which is a precious resource we might often take for granted.
Try fully loading your dishwasher to get the most out of a load, rather than hand washing, for instance.
You can also capture gray water or rainwater to use on your garden, and install timers for watering which will not only conserve water, but actually save you money on water bills by setting your own water ‘budget’.
It’s also a good idea to ensure any leaks such as leaky taps are sealed around the home to avoid excess water waste.
9. Think outside the box
A couple of ‘out of the box’ ideas to live more sustainably from Commonwealth Bank are to put a dry towel in your clothes dryer to soak up water faster from any wet laundry.
You could also try keeping your freezer full so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to cool empty spaces, and avoid opening and closing it too often.
10. Recycle (and get paid for it)
Recycling and limiting your use of single-use plastics around the home are easy ways everyone can make a difference.
You might even be able to make some money from recycling by dropping drink containers to a local collection depot or recycling centre, or by selling used items via a second-hand marketplace.
These tips are just a handful – there’s a lot more you can do to live a greener lifestyle and save money on energy around the home.
The website energy.gov.au lists a number of ideas as to how you can reduce, reuse and recycle to minimize waste and save money.
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