In New Zealand we are blessed with huge renewable energy sources. Most of our electricity - 55% - is generated by hydro systems, 7.7% is generated by geothermal activity, 2.2% is drawn from wind generation and a very small amount from biomass and other renewable sources (4%). This leaves 33% of electricity generation that is gas or coal fired. Once these non-renewable sources are used, they’re gone for good.

The energy that is used in residential homes makes up 13% of New Zealand's national energy consumption per year, and 33% of all electricity consumed. It is the one area of energy consumption that affects all New Zealanders, and all of us can benefit from better use of energy in our homes.

Improving the energy efficiency of a home obviously benefits the people who live there by having a home that is warmer, healthier, more comfortable and cheaper to run. But the whole country benefits too. Energy efficient housing stock means we reduce the pressure on our health system, we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we won’t need to keep building more and more power generators.

There are many things you can do to make your home healthier while using less energy. Some are free, others require some up-front investment, but all will save you money in the long-run – and will help you do your bit for the environment.

Water Heating

  • Showers and baths use around 80% of a typical home’s hot water. Try to reduce shower times.
  • Check the pressure on your shower. If it fills a 10L bucket in less than a minute consider installing a flow-restrictor on your shower head. These are easy to install and available free at the Waste Resource Trust.
  • Use only cold water washes for clothes.
  • Shower instead of using the bath. Baths use up to three-times the hot water of showers.
  • Only use your dishwasher when it is fully loaded.
  • If your hot water cylinder is hot to the touch it is losing heat. Insulating your cylinder and a few metres of pipe will cost less than $100.
  • Set your hot water cylinder to 60°C (10°C higher will use 10% more energy).
  • Turn your hot water cylinder off if you are going away from home for more than a few days.

Heating & cooling

  • Keep heat in by shutting doors, windows and curtains before dusk.
  • Only heat the areas you are using.
  • Consider investing in thermal-backed curtains.
  • Use draught stoppers around doors.
  • If you can, install insulation in the ceilings and floors of your house. These areas are where most heat is lost in un-insulated homes.
  • An open window or fan is much more efficient than air-conditioning (eg. heat pump) for cooling a home.