Here at Pascoe’s Gas, Water & Electrical, we’re dedicated to providing Perth homeowners with products and services that will make their lives easier. For most people, that means a safe, efficient home that requires as little upkeep as possible, with minimal running costs. With that in mind, we set out to find the best ways for our customers to achieve that goal. Here’s what we found.
If you’re trying to cut down your water use to help conserve or save money, there are a few really easy steps you can take that will make a huge amount of difference, and fast. There are small changes you can make, like swapping your taps and showerheads to low-flow versions, and bigger switches, like upgrading your toilets, dishwasher or washing machine to use less water per cycle.
*Information based on the WELS Registration and Product search databaseii , Water Efficiency guidelinesiii and recommended Pascoe’s products.
Pascoe’s Recommended Appliances & Fixture Upgrades
For simple tasks like cleaning your hands, wetting your toothbrush or washing your hands, upgrading to a more efficient tap is a no-brainer. Thanks to some ingenious engineering, this budget friendly change can halve your water use (see table) with little to no impact on your water pressure.
Just like your standard taps, switching to a water wise showerhead will do wonders for your bills, especially if you just can’t bring yourself to cut down on your shower time. By swapping out an outdated showerhead for an efficient one, during a 6.7 minute shower (the average length for Perth residents), you can save over 70L of water and still get the same high water pressure. It’s a modern day miracle.
If you’re still living with a single flush toilet, it’s time to enter the future. Say goodbye to the days of if it’s yellow let it mellow and get yourself a dual flush toilet. Thanks to strict efficiency standards, even today’s lower rated toilets mustn’t use more than 5.5L per average flush (that’s 9L per full flush/4.5L per half flush). If you’re using an efficient dual flush toilet, you’ll use so little water on the half flush setting that it hardly even counts.
While it might not be the most glamourous upgrade, your wallet will definitely thank you.
A water wise dishwasher with a star rating of 4 or higher can save you a lot of water. Filling an average sized sink will use roughly 10-20L and an old, oversized or inefficient dishwasher will use about the same per cycle. However, switching to a water wise dishwasher can reduce this to as little as 6.5L per cycle! You no longer have to feel guilty for making the dishwasher do all the work, you’re helping the environment!
Since 2012, washing machines have had to meet certain minimum Water Efficiency Standards (WES). While this is a great initiative, there are still some pretty inefficient washing machines on the market (which should give you a bit of an indication of how bad things were before).
In the table above we compare two 7kg capacity washing machines. The inefficient 3 star model uses over twice as much water as the more efficient 5 star model. So, even if you’re lucky enough to only be running your washing machine a couple of times a week, having an inefficient machine can quickly add a lot of water usage to your bill.
While the fixtures and appliances in our homes have gotten far more energy efficient over the years, most of us are using a lot more of them than we used to. Even with computers, entertainment systems, consoles, gadgets and appliances filling up our house, there are still plenty of things you can do to reduce your energy costs, from upgrading your lighting to reducing standby power with smarter switches.
In case you missed the memo, incandescent bulbs are out, and LEDs are in. Switching from 75W incandescent bulbs to 15W LEDs will produce the same amount of light (measured in lumens) but cost you 80% less to run. With an average of 37 light bulbs in an Australian homevi it definitely makes it worth your while. Plus, an LED lightbulb with a 10-year lifespan can save you even more money on replacement costs, not to mention the added convenience of rarely having to change them.
While no home heating or cooling technique can beat good architectural design, if you don’t plan on building a new house anytime soon, there are still some other energy saving options you can employ.
Try saving your AC for the days you really need it (hello 40°C Perth heatwaves) and employ some old fashioned cooling and heating hacks the rest of the time. Back to basics tricks like door snakes, bed socks, heat packs, dressing gowns, and blankets in winter, and closed blinds during the day, cold showers, frozen hot water bottles, and cooling cotton sheets in summer can make a surprising amount of difference.
This is where water and energy savings go hand in hand, with water efficient fixtures and appliances also helping you reduce the need for so much heating when using hot water. While your running costs will vary depending on the type of hot water system you’re using, typically you’re looking at up to a quarter of your household energy useix.
One of the best long term solutions for reducing your energy use is to choose more efficient, or more appropriately sized appliances when you upgrade. However, you can still cut down on how much energy your current appliances use simply by keeping them in good working condition and eliminating standby power.
Reducing standby power is by far the easiest (and cheapest) way to reduce your appliances’ running costs. Whether you upgrade your outlets to include switches so you don’t have to unplug all your cables every time, or you install timers to do the work for you, there are plenty of ways to make cutting running costs easier.
While by no means the worst case scenario, we wanted to show how much an average family with a few bad habits could save with just some basic fixture upgrades.
While showers are best kept to four minutes and under, the Perth Residential Water Use Study 2008/2009 found that the average shower length actually sits at around 6.7 minutesxiii . We also assumed our not so water wise family left the tap running during everyone’s twice daily teeth brushing, and the adults’ daily shaving and face washing, which quickly wasted over 200L of water between them in a day. These activities were estimated to take two minutes each. Our final assumption is that each family member was going to the bathroom around five times a day.
While more and more people have started adopting LED lights, likely accounting for the small percent of lighting costs on an average household bill (6%), this can be as high as 15%xiv . We assumed our family hadn’t yet got around to making the switch, keeping their percentage at a costly 14%. Thankfully, by switching from all 75W incandescent bulbs to wallet-friendly 15W LEDs, they can bring that down to a measly 3%.
While the appliances used will change from household to household, knowing that on average appliances use about a third of household powerxv, and that an average Perth household uses 7,288kWh of energy per yearxvi, we assumed our household was using roughly 2,405kWh running their appliances. By installing energy-smart power outlets with switches and timers and using them to eliminate any standby power, they could save the 10% of energy estimated to come from standby power usexvii.
As you can see in the table, simply by swapping out old taps to new low flow ones, switching to a water wise showerhead, and upgrading to an efficient dual flush toilet, you can reduce your water use by 55%. With Water Corps tiered pricing structure you can reduce your water bill by 59% and save $596.95 a year.
To calculate the percent of water you could save on your bill, we included only the usage listed in the above sections. To calculate the amount and percent of money you could save on your bill we used the Water Corporation’s Your Bill and Charges toolxix to figure out the appropriate tiered rate in a new billing year. For the above usage, for the first two thirds of the year they would be charged $1.586 per kL and for the final third of the year they would be charged $2.114 per kL.
By converting old incandescent bulbs to energy saving LEDs and installing power outlets with switches, dimmers or timers to reduce standby power, plus the reduced water heating costs thanks to low flow taps and showerheads, you can reduce your energy bill by 22% and save $465.76 a year.
To calculate the percent of energy you could save on your bill, we used the Household Energy Use table on the Australian Government’s Your Home websitexx along with the information mentioned in the above sections. To calculate the amount of money you could save on your bill we used the Department of Finance’s Tariff A1 – residential electricity price of 26.4740 cents per unitxxi.
While we wholeheartedly recommend making as many water and energy efficient changes in your home as you can, we didn’t include these more major changes in our calculation. That means the water and energy you could save with more efficient ways of washing your clothes, doing dishes, cooking, and cooling & heating your home have not been included.
We have also omitted gardening and outdoor water costs such as reticulation and pool/spa costs as these will vary greatly depending on the plants, features, space and type of backyard you might have, as well as your access to bore water.
Bill savings have been calculated based on usage only and do not take into consideration any additional rates or fees you may be obligated to pay.
For more advice on how you can reduce your home’s water and energy costs, and make your home more efficient, book an appointment with one of our expert plumbers or electricians today, or follow the links below.
vii, viii, x, xii, xx: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy
© Pascoe's Gas, Water & Electrical.