Pūngao / Energy
Improving the energy efficiency of your home not only reduces emissions, it plays a vital role in making sure whānau can enjoy warm, dry and healthy homes.
Free Home Energy Advice
If you want to lower your power bills and have a warmer, drier house, our certified advisors can provide up to an hour of free impartial advice to Auckland residents and ratepayers.
Borrow a free Home Energy Audit Toolkit
If you’re living in a damp, cold house or paying too much for power, check your home's insulation and energy costs.
FutureFit: Discover your impact
Join the movement of individuals harnessing the collective force of individual action. Discover your carbon footprint with FutureFit, then choose actions and goals tailored to you. Track your progress, share with others and celebrate your success.
Use hot water efficiently
The way you use hot water can have a huge impact on the amount you spend on power, and your carbon footprint. There are plenty of one-off actions you can take, like inexpensive changes to your showerhead, as well as habits you can change, such as reducing your shower time that will make big difference.
Most hardware and DIY stores stock water efficient showerheads, which don’t reduce pressure or the shower experience, they just save you water (and the energy used to heat the water). In fact, you can save over $380* each year by changing your showerhead. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got a water efficient showerhead or not, it’s easy to check your flow rate and even install a low-flow washer or a 3-star rated showerhead yourself - in most cases you don’t need a plumber.
Take this action and you could save 123 kg of CO2e per person per year - the equivalent embodied emissions from 524 large cappuccinos.
*Saving of $380 each year based on electricity costs and water costs for an average 3 person house with each person having one shower per day, shower flow rate of 12L/min reducing to 9L/min (by installing a 3-star efficient shower head), 10 minute shower time and heating water with electricity costing 28c/kWh and water costing $3.43/1000L.
If the hot water coming out of your taps is super-hot, the thermostat on your hot water cylinder needs checking! Save $25 or more on your power bill, and make your taps safer, by getting an electrician to check that the thermostat is set to 60°C . If it's 10°C warmer it could be costing you $25 a year with a modern cylinder, or twice that with an older one. Any lower than 60°C risks the growth of legionella bacteria.
Take this action and you could save 20 kg of CO2e emissions per year - that's like driving return from Manurewa to Torbay in a medium size petrol car.
To make this really easy, set a timer on your phone or play your favourite song while showering to help you keep track of time.
The average three person Auckland household could save $915/year* by reducing shower times from 10 minutes to 4 minutes.
Take this action and you could save 99 kg of CO2e emissions per person per year - that's like burning 46 kg of coal.
*$915/year saving based on electricity costs and water costs, shower flow rate of 12L/min, 3 people in house, each having one shower per day, heating water with electricity costing 28c/kWh and water costing $3.43/1000L.
If you have an older hot water cylinder, it may not be insulated. A really easy way to save energy, and more than $50 a year, is to wrap it and the pipes – either with a cylinder wrap, or just with some old blankets. You can also reduce home heat loss by draught stopping, window film, hot water cylindar wraps & lagging, shown in this how-to video.
Take this action and you could save 31 kg of CO2e emissions per year - that's like running 12 compact florescent light bulbs non stop for 45 days.
If you’re up for a bit more commitment and are in a sunny spot, installing a solar hot water system is a great way to save over $500 each year. Another great, sometimes more cost effective option, is installing a hot water heat pump.
Use EECA’s water heating systems tool to calculate the cost savings your household could get from taking this action.
Take this action and you could save 240 kg of CO2e emissions per year - that's like running the gas BBQ for 65 hours.
This is a really easy way to save money on your energy bill. Whenever you put the wash on, make sure it’s set to cold, and save $80 or more every year on power. Washing on cold will keep clothes just as clean as a warm wash, and they’ll last longer as well.
Takle this action and you could save 37 kg of CO2e per year - the equivalent embodied emissions from the production of 460 bananas.
Insulate your home
Installing home insulation is an investment which will give you long term savings. Your power bill will be much lower, and your home warmer, drier and more comfortable – and of course, your carbon footprint will be smaller as you won’t be using as much power to heat your home.
Warm homes are healthy homes, and the best way of warming up your home without creating a huge power bill is to install insulation. You could save more than $300 every year by doing this! You can install some insulation yourself such as ceiling insulation or under floor insulation, or talk to an expert about what is best for your home. You may even qualify for funding through government grants such as Warmer Kiwi Homes.
If the floor and roof of your home are already well insulated then adding wall insulation is the next step. If your home was built before 1978 you most likely do not have any wall insulation. If you’re redecorating a room, it’s an ideal time to pull off the wall lining and insert building paper and insulation.
Take this action and you could save 295 kg of CO2e emissions per year - that's like running 113 compact florescent light bulbs non-stop for 45 days.
If you’ve got small gaps around your doors and windows these can add up to the equivalent of having a football sized hole in your wall. Draught stopping is easy to do yourself and various products are available in hardware stores.
Advice for draft stopping is available here, and how to fit a draught excluder to your door here: This Mitre 10 video shows you how to reduce draughts as well as other things such as installing window film, hot water cylinder wraps & lagging.
Well made and installed curtains and blinds can work as effectively as double glazing in retaining heat and reducing your energy bills. Fit lined (double-layer) curtains that have little or no gap at the top (or use face-fitting tracks), extend beyond the edges by approx 20cm, and reach all the way to the floor. Lined roman blinds or honeycomb blinds also have good thermal performance. More information is available from EECA, Eco-Design Advisor or Consumer.
To get the most from your curtains/blinds, open fully during the day to let in the sun and save on heating costs. The energy from the sun coming through an average-sized north-facing window is equivalent to running a panel heater in winter. Close curtains/blinds at dusk to keep the heat in.
There are many ways of getting the benefits of double glazing without the high price tag. Window insulation kits or bubble wrap are simple and cost-effective solutions to retain heat and reduce condensation on windows. Plastic window film is more suited to wooden windows and can easily be done yourself. A more robust DIY option (for wooden or aluminium windows) is to attach acrylic sheets over the top of the existing single glazing via magnetic strips or other means.
Take this action and you could save 24 kg of CO2e emissions per year - that's like driving from Māngere to Helensville.
Use lighting and appliances efficiently
The type of lighting and appliances you have in your home, and how you use them can add up to about one third of your power bill, or two-thirds during winter when you are heating your home. On winter mornings and evenings grid electricity has a higher mix of fossil-fuel generation, so being energy efficient with lighting and heating makes a big difference to the planet and your wallet.
LED’s use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, while producing the same amount of light. Most LEDs should last at least 15,000 hours – that’s more than 13 years if used every day for three hours. Whilst energy efficient lights can cost a bit more upfront, the energy savings make up for that many times over and you can also expect them to last much longer. Over their lifetime you can save $290 for every standard 100W bulb replaced by an LED.
If all NZ homes had energy efficient LED lighting it could reduce peak electricity demand by 9%. Advice on what to look for when choosing a lightbulb is available here.
Plug-in electric heaters are OK for small rooms that are not occupied for long periods of time but otherwise can be expensive to run. Unflued gas heaters should be avoided as they produce a lot of moisture and unhealthy gases. Gas heating contributes more to global warming than using electricity.
A heat pump can provide 3 to 4 times more heat per unit of electricity compared to a plug-in heater and is a more efficient way to heat living areas. Heat pump filters need to be cleaned once or twice a year - watch the video on how to do this.
A clean-burning wood or pellet burner is also a good option, especially if you have a high ceiling and have access to a cheap, sustainable wood supply. If you have a chimney or flue, have it swept once a year.
For more help about choosing the most energy efficient heating (and cooling) options for your home see here.
The World Health Organisation recommends heating to a minimum of 18 degrees, to reduce chances of getting sick. If you have a heat pump, set it to 21 or 22 degrees. That’s a good balance between keeping warm but not wasting energy. For every degree higher you set your heat pump, you use 10% more electricity.
A plug-in thermostat can be attached to an existing portable heater and is a good way to ensure children’s bedrooms stay at a healthy temperature overnight.
It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how much energy savings this simple action can add up to over the course of a year. Turn appliances off at the wall when not in use rather than leaving them on standby. Some older appliances may have 15-20 Watts standby power, costing $35-45 per year even when you’re not using them. Use multi-plug power boards to easily turn individual devices off. Use economy mode on appliances and set up power management features on your computer and TV.
There are plenty of benefits of using the sunshine to dry your washing – it’s free, it disinfects clothing naturally, and it’s much easier on your clothes. You’ll also be saving $50 a year by doing this.
Take this action and you could save 27 kg of CO2e per year - that's like burning 11 litres of petrol.
Next time you need to upgrade an appliance such as your fridge, washing machine, or television, make sure you check the energy or water efficiency of the product to ensure it’ll cost you less to run in the long term. If you’re buying second hand make sure you remember to check, as there can be a difference in efficiency between different models of older appliances.
If you’re living in a damp, cold house or paying too much for power, check your home's insulation and energy costs. The Home Energy Audit Toolkit (HEAT kit) is available free of charge from your local library with your Auckland Libraries membership.
Reserve a HEAT kit here.
Home Energy Audit Toolkits (HEAT kits) can help you find out:
- which areas of your home use the most energy
- how you can make your home healthier and warmer
- how you can save on power bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
What is in the HEAT kit?
- A hygrometer - to measure air temperatures and moisture levels including tips on how to avoid cold, damp conditions that cause condensation and mould.
- An infrared thermometer - to find thermal leaks due to poor insulation of ineffective seals including tips on how to fix them.
- A stopwatch - to measure your shower flow rate including tips on how to make savings through efficient use of hot water.
- A power meter - to measure the running cost of plug-in appliances including tips on how you can save money on appliances, heating and lighting.
- Instructions on how to use each tool.
- A record booklet for recording your measurements and energy saving actions.
- Info sheets you can take away with more detailed information.
Read Gareth's story
"I’d encourage people to book a visit from a Home Energy Advisor – it’s free!"Gareth
Read Abigail's story
"Having an energy efficient home means I’m warmer, healthier and it costs less."Abigail