Technology

Apps for a more sustainable life

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When the idea of living sustainably was just emerging there weren’t many resources for people who wanted to learn about sustainable practices.

Now, there is so much readily available information out there, as well as practical advice to help implement these ideas easily. More specifically we are talking about the type of help now available by downloading free apps onto your smart phone.

Sustainable transport

Transport is one of the many things that leave a large carbon footprint on our planet. Not only is fossil fuel consumption high in most countries, but the actual making of the vehicles is leaving a carbon footprint too.

While some people have already moved to hybrid vehicles, and it can be argued that more affordable models are being developed, hybrid vehicles still aren’t suitable for everyone’s budget. Even if you can afford a hybrid vehicle, the manufacturing of electric cars causes more than double the carbon dioxide emissions of making a conventional car. No matter what type of vehicle you own, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by cycling, walking or taking public transport whenever possible.

Wait, what about that app? Yes, there’s an app that can help you become more active in doing something about climate change. Better still, it rewards you for leaving your car at home. How? It calculates how much you use your car and how much you save by using any of the three alternative sustainable methods of transport.

You can then ‘purchase’ digital currency called Recoins – which are renewable energy coins. This digital currency is used to buy CO2 certificates to help fund climate protections projects. In this way you’ll be compensating for the carbon footprint created when you use your vehicle.

Not only is this app free and useful, using it can be lots of fun. You can have friendly competitions between friends, colleagues and companies to see who has saved the most. Since we all like a bit of friendly competition, this means the app is far more likely to be used. Enterprising companies could even offer small prizes for the winners.

For those who are time poor

There are only 24 hours in the day and sometimes you feel as if every one of them is filled to the brim with things to do. Another app of interest to people who feel like they are too busy to get involved in – or keep up with the news on sustainability – is the #climate app.

By using this app you can choose to hear climate change or sustainability news only from your favourite companies, e.g. Greenpeace. The app will curate the news for you and only send you projects that you have a particular interest in – once you have set up these parameters.

This is ideal for someone who works long hours and may have family commitments as well. People who would otherwise feel overwhelmed by adding more information to their daily agenda can get straight to what is relevant to them, by keeping tabs on what is happening in their chosen sub-sections of the sustainable world.

For those who need a reminder

When you’re pushed for time or have too much to think about you can easily forget the sustainable resolutions you’ve made. You may have resolved to decrease your carbon footprint, but before you know it, you’re following the same old routine over again simply because you’re on auto-pilot. When you’re ultra-busy you tend to do things from habit. If this sounds like you, another free app called Rippl would be perfect for you.

You can setup this app to give you reminders about things you want to do, like taking reusable bags to the supermarket instead of using their plastic ones. Locking such tips and reminders into your mobile phone and setting them to pop up daily (or more often) will help keep you on the straight and narrow by really simplifying the process of forming sustainable habits. You can choose the tips and the times of day to suit your lifestyle.

If you’re feeling truly enthusiastic, you can also jump into the deep end of this topic and schedule a whole heap of tips and tasks to come to your phone. The good thing about this app is that it was designed by environmental scientists from Ocean Conservancy, so the tips and recommendations are all science-based.

If you want your shopping to be sustainable

For those who want their shopping choices to be sustainable, check out the GoodGuide. This app has been developed by environmental scientists for those who want to know how the products they purchase stack up against more sustainable choices. Health and social performance ratings are other components of this app.

Scientists have devised a rating on a scale of 1-10 for health, safety and environment and the product score is based on an average of these three. So if you’re interested in purchasing safe, green, healthy and ethical products, this app will point you in the right direction.

As well as recommending products for you, the app incorporates a barcode scanner – so you can quickly and easily find the information you need on a product as you are shopping. This saves you looking up a whole list of products to find the one you want. It doesn’t get much easier than this! With more than 120,000 products incorporated into the app it’s highly likely that you will find what you’re after in there.

All these excellent apps will help make it easier to make living sustainably an established habit – in place of sustainable practices that are too hard to find and maintain in today’s busy life. There are many other apps on the market as well, so it could be worth searching for them too, if these don’t fit all of your sustainability needs.

Technology

What’s new in batteries?

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Many of us have been caught out with dead car batteries, or missed an important call because we forgot to charge our smart phones. So it’s a relief to hear about improvements that extend the life of the not-so humble battery.

It’s not only the power stored in batteries that is important, but a battery’s staying power, size, weight and ability to charge up quickly – not to mention the cost. Another important factor is safety. The elements used in batteries can be dangerous to handle, but people who use them don’t usually come into contact with these elements. However, if a battery degrades and is touched it can cause an acid burn. Also some elements in some batteries are flammable.

Batteries and technology

There are many different kinds of batteries and it’s important to get the right one for the job. Experts are working constantly on new technology to improve batteries – we’ve all seen the giant leaps forward in innovation over the last decade. This is an ongoing scenario with constant improvements – both big and little – all of which are important in the general scheme of things.

Technology is not the only consideration when it comes to improvements in batteries. It also has to be mixed with other factors such as affordability, lightness and the amount of deliverable power in each battery. Cosmos Magazine detailed a number of the latest trends in batteries which we’ve summarised below.

The lithium ion battery

Regarded as the champ of batteries, the lithium ion can be used for just about everything; from cars to small appliances and your household solar power supply. In fact, they have the potential to allow home-owners with solar power to make considerable savings. While the technology used in these batteries is mature and reliable, there are some safety concerns. Airline passengers are warned of the risk of fire, especially if appliances containing lithium ion batteries are stored in the luggage section, where a fire can break out unnoticed until it’s too late. It is better to keep such devices in the cabin where the risk can be minimised.

However, aeroplanes also use lithium ion batteries as back-up for ground maintenance and to provide electricity during flight, as well as for back-up power of other important in-flight functions. In 2013 they overheated due to a chemical reaction called thermal runaway, and caused fires in a Boeing 787. It wasn’t just the fault of the batteries; certain other issues played a part in the problem. For instance, during the investigation, Boeing and the Federation Aviation Authority (FAA) found 17 non-compliance issues, some to do with the battery manufacture, but others to do with outsourcing the manufacture of certain airplane parts. With the latter, certain changes to the design and assembly of components were made without being okayed by Boeing first. While these issues did play a part in the fire, it’s hoped that a replacement will be found for the flammable component in these batteries and with a little tweaking the new ones will be even better.

The lithium sulphur battery

According to Cameron Shearer, materials engineer at Flinders University in Adelaide, the lithium sulphur battery will be the next commercial battery that may even replace the lithium ion battery. Why? It‘s more energy dense, with the potential to hold five times more energy than the lithium ion battery. It will potentially be suitable for small appliances, cars and household power supplies. The lithium sulphur battery uses lithium instead of granite to catch the lithium ions at the anode, while at the cathode, sulphur is used instead of a mix of metals. This makes it a much lighter battery – the only downside is that it doesn’t have a long life due to the sulphur degrading and clogging up the works. Once a viable solution for this has been found this battery could shoot to the top of the list. In fact, chemists at the Toyota Research Institute of North America in Michigan are working on a polymer coating to stabilise the sulphur.

The lithium air battery

It’s always good when something that is freely available can be used in a project. The lithium air battery is so called because it uses oxygen straight from the air, rather than sulphur to soak up the spent ions. This oxygen is exhaled as the battery is re-charged, making it the lightest battery yet. It can be used in devices and electric cars and has the potential to contain ten times more energy than the lithium ion battery. The main disadvantage is that it has a very short life span – so far. In fact, this battery has yet to move off the lab bench as it needs several elements to be improved before it’s suitable for commercial use. When that finally happens it may be the best battery of all.

The sodium ion battery

If you don’t mind weight and size, a cheaper battery that uses sodium rather than lithium is available for solar energy storage. The sodium ion battery also has the potential for use in cars and devices, but so far can only be used for applications where size is not a problem. The main disadvantage is that of poor performance, at least when compared with the lithium ion battery.

The flow battery

Last but not least is the flow battery which is ideal to store renewable energy. While it’s cheap and reliable, it can only be used for stationary applications due to using two tanks of electro-active liquids to shuttle the electrons between. Since the smallest of these batteries is the size of a bar fridge, you can understand that they are hardly suitable for appliances or even cars. But they are useful for places where size is not important. They’re great for use in remote locations such as mining sites. They could also be used for energy storage in the home by situating them behind a wall or somewhere that they can remain invisible.

As technology improves and delivers different and improved methods of making things, it’s highly likely that batteries will benefit. Even now techniques for high resolution microscopy are enabling scientists to custom design better and smaller battery components. So cool! Stay tuned on this one.

Sustainable design

Ecocapsules off the grid

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Ecocapsules allow off the grid living in comfort and convenience, with in-built solar power and wind power generation facilities.

Not everyone likes camping out due to the discomfort, hassle and plain inconvenience that is inherent in living in a tent, cooking over an open fire and having to pack and unpack every time you move. Ecocapsules may change their minds. These tiny homes away from home have everything you could need for comfort and convenience; a kitchenette, dining facilities, a shower, a toilet and a double bed. They even have room for storage.

Living off the grid

Better still, you can live off the grid due to built-in solar panels with a 2.6m2 power rating and a wind turbine that generates 750 watts and feeds a 4200 Wh battery bank.

The capsules have also been designed to catch and store rainwater which is then filtered so it’s suitable for human consumption. The grey water – from the shower and washing up – is recycled to flush the toilet in those models that don’t have a composting toilet.

Uses for the ecocapsule

These amazing capsules of technology allow people to live off the grid for up to a year. They weren’t originally made just for campers. In fact, they may be too expensive for that, seeing many people go camping as a way to take a cheap holiday. However, the capsule is so handy and even (dare we say it) cute, that many people may just want one for leisure and pleasure. They have many other uses though.

  • They can be used in remote locations for research facility accommodation to save building housing. Instant good accommodation means that essential research can go ahead without delay in waiting for accommodation.
  • They can be used for emergency housing, whether the emergency springs from a tornado, flood or other causes.
  • They can be used for a humanitarian action unit, offering clean and comfortable accommodation to those who need it.
  • Tourist lodge accommodation in eco-sensitive areas. Using this type of accommodation means there is no need to disturb wildlife or flora by taking electricity into the area. And no need for plumbing or other buildings to go up.

Where the ecocapsule can be used

The ecocapsule has been well-designed with insulated walls, making it suitable for use in very hot or very cold climates. It can be used in remote locations where there is no access to power, as it generates its own with the wind turbine and solar panels.

However, rainfall is needed to keep up the water supply, so perhaps in the middle of the desert would not be the best place to live in it. With that being said, the latest water-saving and recycling techniques have been put into place. The units now use a composting toilet instead of the flushing one. Nice architects based in Bratislava are still looking for another solution since composting toilets do have a few disadvantages.

This miniature caravan look-alike that is full of modern technology can sit on top of a high-rise building just as comfortably as on the top of a mountain, or on the beach. It can be installed in the jungle, by a river or on the side of a road, in a park or on private property. This ecocapsule can be used just about anywhere accommodation is required. Speaking of eco-technology, passive cooling is also used by having a window that opens in each side so the breezes can waft through, right across the double bed.

Just how big is an ecocapsule?

It looks tiny, but that is partly due to the design.  In fact, it offers 8 square metres of living space, with half of the double bed folding to create a walkway, or a place to sit at the table. There is storage at each end, with one being accessible from outside. Even more storage space is utilised by the netting shelf above the bed, ideal for clothing and bedding. Windows and the door lift up, also saving room, just in case space at its destination is at a premium.

So how does it get to its destination?

The ecocapsules will fit into a container for shipping, should they need to be deployed overseas, or they can be towed in a trailer to their destination. As yet, there are none with wheels that can be towed like a caravan, but these are in the planning stages. The addition of wheels is sure to increase their applications as they can then be towed behind the family car. It may be just the thing to fit into a tiny, suburban backyard when Nan and Pop visit the kids for the holidays if they don’t have a spare room available. With everything you could possibly need for a nice, long stay, why waste money booking into holiday accommodation? All you will need is sun, wind and water to manage very nicely in this tiny home for two.

At Home

Integrate your home’s smart devices

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Learn the ins and outs of integrating your household's smart devices without needing to be a rocket scientist, and make your smart home as smart as it should be.

Smart homes filled can be extremely cool if the smart devices in them work the way they are meant to. Technology already allows us to lock our homes or turn off a forgotten appliance via an app on our mobile phones.  Yet no matter how advanced we seem to get, we still find that there are some problems with the true integration of devices. In other words, not all the devices you purchase to make your home truly smart will ‘talk’ to each other the way they should, to give you the kind of service you have dreamt about. Meaning your smart home may not actually be as smart as it should.

Why smart device integration is still in its infancy

Integration of all smart devices is still in its infancy because such devices are all invented and made by different companies. This may be because there are no national or international standards as far as we have seen anyway. We keep seeing ‘Company A’ making devices that work together with its own products, but not necessarily with devices made by ‘Company B’. We even tend to see ‘Company A’ creating upgraded products that don’t necessarily sync with past products. It all gets a bit frustrating for the consumer and forces consumers to keep spending money to buy products that integrate with the rest of their home.

This is the way each company ensures that consumers stick with their products so they end up with a healthy profit. For consumers who don’t like sticking to one brand this becomes a bit of an issue. Before beginning a smart home endeavour this is something to consider, especially if you already own several products made by a variety of companies. The trouble is that they won’t actually be able to work the way they were intended to work unless they can communicate with each other. There may be some basic communication, but not enough to enable them to work the way they should.

While there needs to be some kind of standard for all companies to adhere to, this requires deeper pockets than many companies wish to put in, especially because for the company it works well how it is already, so why change it? For the end user, having several different apps that must all be used to accomplish what they want in their smart home may not only be confusing, but also time-consuming – not to mention irritating.  Home automation across the board needs to be simplified, but this will take quite a lot of hard work by many different companies.

Not everyone can be a rocket scientist

Traditionally, devices for smart homes have been installed by people in the security system sector, professional integrators or enthusiastic hobbyists. The trouble is that not all the skills needed to do the job are available to each one. For instance, someone who can install the special locks needed to unlock automatically from a phone app, may not have the other skills needed to install or integrate other smart devices. And tech pros often don’t want to learn how to install a lock.

Cooperation is the new watchword

So it’s not only smart device integration that is needed, but cooperation between sectors. This is not the way things work at the moment, with companies keeping their secrets close and being unwilling, in the main, to share their specific knowledge with others. In this way they keep a large part of the market share for their investors. While there are some companies that are instigating the kind of change that is needed where coding is freely available to all without fear of legal repercussions, they are as yet in the minority.

This will need to change in the future and it’s consumers who will very likely drive that change. People want the freedom to choose what devices to purchase, especially when it comes to technology. There are many different smart devices on the market and more coming all the time. Consumers don’t want to be constrained to only purchase devices from a single brand source in order to ensure that they can be properly integrated. The forward thinking companies that make devices which can integrate with other brands easily are likely to get the largest share of the market in the long run.

According to Philip DesAutels, Senior Director of IoT (Internet of Things) for the AllSeen Alliance: “The quickest way to get lots of products into the market is to provide a core open-source framework that everyone uses.”

Once this is available, we can expect to see many products that have used the same coding and can thus integrate seamlessly with each other at a basic level and perhaps even at a higher level. Smart homes will be truly smart and able to perform at even higher levels without too much effort from the owners.

Smart homes are not necessarily only for the rich. You can start your quest for a smart home simply and take it step by step until you have what you want – or can afford. Many smart devices will even save money and increase the value of your home, making the investment worthwhile.

What integration of SMART devices looks like

Smart devices for a smart home need to be capable of not only knowing what other devices are in the home, but how they work; then they need to be able to work with them. A simple example of this is when a smart light bulb can know that the front door has just been unlocked by the owner, so it will automatically light up the foyer or living room.

There are many devices that can make your home much safer and more convenient. Devices that can not only detect smoke, but tell what is causing it and whether it is dangerous and go on to do something about it if it is will certainly save lives. Other devices can automatically adjust light and temperature settings as they sense movement throughout the home mean we will always be comfortable. But only so long as each device can integrate seamlessly with the others in a way that is easy to manage.

After all, smart home owners don’t usually want to become rocket scientists in order to manage or learn about their smart devices. They just want them to operate automatically and give them the benefits for which they were purchased.

At Home

Energy-efficient appliances save power

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How energy-efficient appliances can save you energy and reduce your carbon emissions

Did you walk into an appliance store a couple of years back in search of a new fridge or washing machine, eyes swivelling straight to the energy star rating stickers? Was this a priority in making your decision? Did a two-star rating get an instant ‘no’, while a five-star rating got your attention and clinched the sale? If so, congratulations, you’re just one of the many householders who saved some $2.7 billion in energy in Australia in 2013 by purchasing energy-efficient appliances!

By studying the data in the latest Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Report (GEMS) review by the Department of Industry of the Australian Government’s Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program, Sustainable Energy and Climate Researcher Alan Pears of RMIT University estimates that the value of energy saved in Australia in 2013 alone was around $3.2 billion, and $2.7 billion of this was saved by ordinary households rather than large industrial consumers.

The review revealed that, in 2013, the E3 program reduced Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by a massive 13.5 million tonnes, which means the effective cost of carbon emissions avoided is minus $118 per tonne. According to Pears, in an article published on The Conversation, “In other words, it saved money to cut emissions. Overall, the savings delivered by embracing efficient appliances were three times greater than the costs.”

Out with the old, in with the new

Since 1986 – when those star-spangled energy stickers first began appearing on new refrigerators –the E3 program has provided the information and incentive for us to replace worn out and inefficient appliances with better-performing ones. So we’re both saving ourselves money and happy knowing we’re doing our bit for the environment.

Importantly, the program also gave manufacturers a big push to improve the efficiency of their products. Between 1986 and 2000, for example, the average efficiency of new refrigerators on the Australian market improved by around 40 per cent, while dishwashers became some 23 per cent more efficient between 1993 and 2000.

Room for improvement

Pears’ own research suggests that, for most appliances, there is potential to improve efficiency by a further 30-60 per cent beyond the best available current performance. An example would be the increased use of “smart” technology, such as load-sensing motors in washing machines.

Replacing old, inefficient appliances offers big benefits. A faulty old refrigerator, for example, could be using up to eight times as much as a modern fridge. And the most efficient new ceiling fans on the market today use just a quarter of the energy of older models.

Stars in our eyes; money in our pockets and healthier outcomes

By replacing older appliances with the modern energy-efficient ones on the market, you could benefit from energy savings of 30 per cent up to a whopping 80 per cent.

This certainly bears thinking about it when you’re next confronted by the sea of whitegoods in a large home appliance store.

And there’s further good news for our economy, community and the environment (as well as you and your family). The E3 program review forecasts that by 2030, the program will be saving 34.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas.

Simply by ensuring your next shiny new household appliance has the highest possible star-rating (energy-efficiency), you’re also contributing to a very sizeable dent in the amount of Australian carbon emissions.

At Home

Surviving Summer: 10 top water saving tips

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Use these water saving tips to help you and your garden survive dry times with less stress. It may also help you save on cost, given watering the garden can account for up to 50% of your water bill in the summer months.

Gardening is a therapeutic hobby that refreshes the mind and the body. The only trouble is when a lack of rain leads to drought or water restrictions, all your hard work can seem wasted as grass turns brown and flowers wilt.

  1. Water the garden in a way that optimises intake. That is, avoid frequent, short watering. Instead, water for longer, but less frequently – once a week should be enough, depending on the weather conditions. Soaring temperatures and hot wind will dry the ground out more quickly. The extra water will soak in more deeply and encourage roots to grow down deep. They will then be protected from the dryness and heat in the top layers of soil. And when it comes to the lawn, short, sharp bursts from the hose increase penetration.
  2. Mulch the garden to prevent evaporation and keep those roots cool and damp. Mulching can be as simple as spreading your lawn clippings over the garden, but make sure you don’t spread them too thickly, as this can prevent water from penetrating at all. Mulches can be organic material such as leaves and straw, or non-organic such as pebbles, black plastic or landscape material. Plastic should be avoided as a permanent addition as it prevents water from soaking in and the heat from it kills the good bacteria in the soil. It’s only good for annuals and should be removed at the end of the growing season to allow the soil to recover. Organic matter is best, as this gradually decomposes and provides good nutrients for your plants.
  3. Install drip irrigation. This delivers a small amount of water directly to the roots of the plants where it’s needed most. There’s very little evaporation and no run-off, so water doesn’t go to waste. If you use spray irrigation, try to situate it so water doesn’t run off into the gutter. You can set a timer so you don’t forget to turn off the water.
  4. Wash your car on the lawn, rather than the driveway. This will give the lawn a good drink. It’s also a good idea to use a bucket for the wash and a hose just for the rinse off. Much less water is wasted when you use a bucket.
  5. Make use of your grey water. You can get a special attachment that reroutes your laundry and bath water into a holding tank, which can then be used for the garden. If you go this route, make sure you choose detergents that are earth-friendly and don’t have high levels of sodium. Water from the toilet is not included in grey water. A rainwater tank can also be used to harvest storm run-off from your roof. Rather than letting it run away down the gutter, pipe it into the tank and save it for a dry day.
  6. Choose plants carefully. Many of our garden flowers were imported from Britain, where they have a much higher rainfall. That means those flowers need more water than we get as rainfall in Australia. By choosing Australian native plants, succulents or plants from other countries that are naturally drought hardy, you will have a better looking garden and minimise your water usage. Also, find out what kind of roots perennials have before purchasing them. Those with a strong tap root that grows down deep will often survive with very little water. Plants with shallow surface roots are much more likely to require copious amounts of water.
  7. When planting, combine plants with similar needs so you don’t waste water on those who don’t need it. If you live in a hot, dry area, plant trees or shrubs that will create dappled shade over your garden to reduce the heat and water evaporation.
  8. Take note of the weather forecast. If rain is due in a few days, hold off on watering your garden. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, make sure it does not come on during rain. Let nature take its course and water the garden for you. Some systems have a rain sensor that does this automatically.
  9. Make sure your watering is done during the coolest part of the day so there’s less evaporation. Watering in the evening is best because there are many hours for plants to absorb water before the sun rises to dry it all up.
  10. Choose your pot plants carefully, as hot weather dries up any water quickly. Choose light coloured pots, or paint black ones a light colour as black absorbs even more heat. Water saving crystals in the potting media will help retain water in the mix. Keeping pot plants in dappled shade during the hot summer months will also help. Use a drip tray underneath the pot to catch the run-off. This will be absorbed back into the pot where the plant can make use of it. However, not all plants like wet roots, so make sure it’s not there all the time. Again, drought hardy plants are best for pots. Clustering pots together helps to shade the outside of the pots, so they don’t get as hot. Many people overwater pot plants because the top of potting mix dries quickly and you think the whole lot is dry. Dig down a little way and see if that pot plant really does need watering.

These are just a few water saving strategies for your garden without compromising too much on your favourite pastime! Although you may not be able to implement all 10 of these tips, just remember, every little bit you do goes a long way to save water.

Sustainable design

Inspirational Green Homes

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French Pop-Up House
French Pop-Up House

Energy permeates every aspect of our life at home. It’s there at a flick of a switch and it’s something we can easily take for granted.

Yet, we’re all becoming increasingly aware of how we can use energy wisely to help make a difference – to bring down our own costs, as well as to tread more lightly on our land.

It can start through small changes, such as choosing renewable energy – instead of fossil fuels – and replacing expensive halogen lighting with LED lighting.

And we can change the way we think about energy in our homes. Passive, active and present – a sustainable lifestyle can be adapted, as well as created. Innovative design principles and examples are being tested, tried and proven. Some are barely commercialised yet they are the spark igniting our imagination, propelling us towards more sustainable lifestyles.

Habitat will showcase some of these examples here, as well as surface exciting – and practical – new design elements as they emerge.

Self-sustained homes – saving money and the environment

All over the world, families are building self-sustained homes which not only produce enough energy, but have more than they actually need.

These structures are, essentially, power plants in their own right, with the ability to put energy back into the local electrical grid and get paid for it. And while some are high-end designs, there is also a renewed focus on how we do green design more cheaply.

Norway’s energy producing house

Norway is pushing beyond net-zero-energy buildings – which create roughly as much as power as they use in a year – with a new ‘plus’ type building that creates twice as much energy as it needs and uses.

Built for the Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) the house combines clever design and technology to become a mini-generator. Gains through passive design – using thermally efficient materials and positioning the building to maximise solar gain, while reducing overheating in winter – are amplified using new technology that tracks and improves energy usage.

It’s no secret – lessons for the average build

The main secret of this energy ‘plus’ efficient building is the careful planning and calculation.

One relatively easy step you can take is ensuring the roof is built for optimal sun absorption. Also, the house shape should encourage cross-ventilation, including allowing for a natural updraught to let air out of the building.

France’s Pop-Up House

Another example of a prototype house that produces zero electricity bills – yet is inexpensive to build and maintain – is the Pop-Up House, in France.

It’s exactly as it sounds: a house built in as little as four days, with the help of a screwdriver and nothing more.

This prefabricated house – built by French architectural firm Multipod Studio – is lightweight and recyclable, as well promising to be inexpensive and extremely efficient to run. The below prototype – which at the time of writing cost €30,000 – was being revised in preparation for going on the market. Remarkably, the home requires no heating, due to the way it is insulated and is in accordance with the Passivehaus standard of energy.

At Home

Creative ways to save energy September

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"Tell us your most creative way of saving energy"

You recently shared over 2500 wonderful ways that you creatively save energy to save money. Because our energy comes from wind and rain, Momentum Energy believes in a more sustainable future and the simple ways that each and every one of us can save energy, save money and in turn, live more sustainably.

Here are the final 70 most creative and fun ideas. There’ll surely be something in here to inspire you to save energy and save you money. What’s your favourite? How else do you save energy creatively?

  • In summer, we have 2 water tanks and what happens is underneath them we have this felt like sheet of material and windows. You open up the windows and turn the water pump on so the water dribbles though the material and the sea breeze blows though it creating a cool breeze that blows through our house and the water just keeps being reused.
  • I recently convinced my boss to replace the workshop high bay lights with energy efficient LED alternatives. This, along with installing clear roof sheets has cut our power bill in half and minimised our organisation’s carbon footprint.
  • Home Automation. Controlling and managing your energy requirements based on schedule, a system of sensors and using a central hub that learns your energy requirements. I am working on a DIY project myself and winning this smart watch would become an active part of my home automation system.
  • I made my own liquid solar blanket for the swimming pool from stearyl-alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. The effect is that I no longer need to fill the pool with ‘top up’ water and the pool is 3 degrees warmer, so I do not need to run my solar heater. Replacing a traditional solar blanket is expensive and taking it off each time dumps dirt into the pool. So it allows you to enjoy looking at the pool all year round without worrying about power consumption.
  • Get a Tesla Powerwall whoop whoop!
  • My wife and I took up ballroom dancing last winter to keep warm. We dance each night when we get home from work to warm up our house and our souls.
  • We split our solar panels so they sit on the north and west of the roof. That way, they can support my low energy needs right through the day, without having to draw on the grid.
  • Home automation – a device should recognise when it is not being used, and disconnect from the power, saving energy on standby, but still be easy to switch back on when it is needed.
  • Turning it into a competition with our neighbour. Whoever has the least expensive energy bill by the end of quarter wins. Dinner is the losers shout!
  • We are not on town water so when we built the house we put the water tank up high so we didn’t need to have a water pressure pump and have to pay for the electricity it uses.
  • Show your family the current energy bill. Then, help them identify a few things they can do to reduce that energy usage.  Use the money you save each month to provide a reward.  Let your family rent movies or get a pizza.
  • To save electricity in the garden we painted different sized rocks with glow in the dark paint. So during the day while the sun shines it activates the paint and at night time you have a beautiful ambient light glowing in the garden. We also created some garden mobiles and placed them in the trees.
  • I’ve connected our broadband router to a wireless energy saver unit that I can turn on and off from my phone. It’s my “teen tamer.”
  • This when it gets delivered Solar Puff Light
  • I have “date night” with my housemates once a week where we turn off all devices, use candles instead of lights and only eat cheese and drink wine. Our energy bill has gone down considerably and we love doing it every week!
  • Install stand-alone battery backup solar system, totally off grid.
  • The best way I save energy, was to install a Nest thermostat, which allows me to set a maximum heating level in the house, so that little fingers can’t turn it above my set maximum. Saving me power and gas.
  • Track your usage with applications – Wattulator and Leafully are two apps that help you track energy. If you’re more of the mathematics/numbers type of person, then Wattulator is your app of choice. If you’re more into user experience and want to learn how to take part in more green activities, Leafully will work better for you.
  • Have an energy auditor come into your home. They will point out the biggest problem areas and suggest affordable ways to repair them.
  • We don’t make our kids pay board. We make them pay the bills. Works a treat, they are the ones asking us if we really need the heater on. Best way to educate them before they fly the nest.
  • I run our water bore on a timer, so that the animals and gardens are watered for a set period of time… and no longer.
  • Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy, seal windows and doors. Turning your heating down by 1C, turning lights off when you are not in a room, turning power switches off at the wall when not in use, filling your washing machine for every load, boiling only the water you intend to use when you boil a kettle. Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Get shower savvy and reduce the amount of water delivered from taps and shower heads, save on your water bill and on the energy required to heat your water.
  • Combined with using eco-friendly light bulbs and solar panels, I have a meter which allows me to control the brightness of all lights in the house and observe just how much energy I am using.
  • When I make coffee on a sunny day, I use a Fresnel lens to boil the water in my stovetop espresso maker. No energy, delicious coffee!!
  • All appliances that consume energy whilst in standby mode should be plugged into an extension cord. 1 button turns off all these thereby saving energy and $$. You can now buy extension cords that can be switched on/off using an app on your phone
  • Buy a halogen oven. It can roast a chicken in 30 minutes. A halogen oven uses 75% less electricity than a conventional electric oven. When you combine this lower use of power with the 50% faster cooking time you are can see a big reduction in your electricity bill.
  • In winter, I use the heater instead of a dryer to help drying the clothes. It increases the humidity as well.
  • I have a bar fridge outside which I only use when entertaining guests one or two days a month. It was very difficult to get behind the fridge to turn off the power when it wasn’t being used. So I purchased a WIFI controlled power socket for it and can now turn the fridge on and off via my iPhone. Now it’s only on when I need it and saving around 28 days of the electricity it would have otherwise used in a month!
  • We got a shower radio and have a rule you can only listen to two full songs and then you have to get out it manages shower times but in a fun way.
  • My most creative way of saving energy is having a sensor and time system running in the house where it will detect if something is using power or not, and open and close the plug accordingly.
  • I donated my tumble dryer to charity last year. I was sick of all the fluff and humidity, not to mention the cost of running the appliance. Now in the wetter months, I hang my washing up on hangers, mostly from bookcases and door lintels, the former making for fun hiding spots for the two house cats. Often I’ll see a random paw take a swipe at the dogs as they pass by totally oblivious, of course!
  • Utilise heat from cooking gas and other household electronic devices for room heating/ water heating. Provide simple room heater technology kits (Flower Pot Heater) for marketing the brand, so your customers can use without paying heavy electricity bills and it shows you care.
  • I believe saving energy is one of the most important and neglected issues faced today by many households. People believe that placing energy efficient equipment in their homes will make the layout of the house look “unflattering” or “boring”. However, this is certainly not the case. Decorating your home is as simple as 1, 2 & 3, and it starts from just simply making your abode look cooler. For example, hanging light coloured curtains in your rooms and also using light coloured paint on walls and ceilings will not only allow the natural sunlight inside, but the paint will also reflect heat in the summer, keeping your home as cool as can be!
  • I have an exercise bike connected to a generator in the living room, and get your kids to ride it, if they want to watch TV
  • PHILIPS energy saving LED lights,
    Touch my iWatch and bulb ignites.
    With just one tap,
    Of PHILIPS app,
    Never a dull ‘MOMENT-um’, only colourful nights!
  • I love cooking. Well, the truth is I love food (cooking being the means to the food). Unfortunately, cooking can be one of the biggest energy consuming activities there is. To conserve energy, my wife and I are conscious of this; more means less. 1. We cook more meals in the oven at the same time, so that we have to use it less. By cooking a number of meals, we don’t have to worry about turning on the oven so much. The added bonus is we save time by having our meals already prepped! 2. Keeping the fridge and freezer full actually uses less energy too! We already knew that more food is better than less food… now there’s another reason!
  • I save energy by applying occupancy sensors to all of my lights. So if i forget to turn off a light, after a certain period of time with no movement in the room the sensor will turn the light off.
  • Re-roofed the house including roof insulation then added solar panels and now use appliances during sunlight hours so solar inputs offset use by appliances.
  • I have a hose connected to my washing machine so the garden gets watered, I also have heaps of solar lights in the garden so I don’t have to use the outdoor lights
  • Installed a smart system so I can cut power and turn off lights at certain times and when people are using to something for too long!
  • We have sensor lighting in the office. If you are not in the room the lights will not be on
  • Use a GEO-fencing device that turns off your devices when you are 50 metres away from your house. When you return at 50 metres they come back on again.
  • Seal doors and windows with caulk, weather stripping and plastic film. An investment of $50 in weatherising supplies can reduce heating costs by two to three times that much.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils twice yearly to keep the compressor running efficiently for reduced energy usage.
  • Burning wood to warm the house and use of solar panels for electricity. Intelligent whitegoods that delay the start during low peak hours.
  • “No bones about it, it’s time to give those messy fracking fossil fuels the flick, and find ways to collect biogas as manual cowpat recovery would soon get old quick!
    • Each new residential area should consider multiple ways to energy save, with LED street and house lights leading the greener wave.
    • Rammed earth walls, insulation, solar panels, water tanks, tinting, super batteries, EMR scavenging, fusion, thermal, fission, wind, water, tidal, braking vehicles, even trees and humans…the list goes on and on of clever use and design, but for a feasible and clean output still on we do pine.
    • Our planet won’t last forever so let’s not speed things up, and get on with the antimatter propulsion already, c’arn Scotty beam us up!
  • Save energy by having timed heating so that it comes on 5 minutes before you get home instead of pumping it full blast when you walk in the door
  • Get the kids to pay the bills; they get to keep what is under the budget. Do that for a while, you’ll see shorter showers, lower heater settings, doors being closed and windows being shut when they are on. Educate your kids to be energy conscious. You will start saving. Otherwise, kick them out… ha
  • My mother and I have saved money on cooking by creating an environmentally friendly energy saving oven. We fill a heavy cast iron pot with vegetables, herbs and spices and put it on the stove for 5 minutes until it’s really hot. We then place it into our enviro oven which is made from a box very tightly packed with shredded paper and then a layer of blankets. The pot is covered with more paper and blankets. This is incredibly effective at insulating the pot and allows the vegetables to slow cook for hours with residual heat from the stove rather than having to use electricity from the stove or electric slow cookers for hours. It’s very effective and the meal comes out really hot. It’s astounding how hot the pot remains throughout the day and just how much steam comes out when you open it. We use it for camping or travel, or long busy days when you want a warm meal ready when you come home.
  • If you want to save a lot of energy always unplug any home electronics if you are not using them because although they are off they still use a fair amount of electricity. Also try as much as possible to buy things that would use less energy, consider using Solar Panels or if you get a new computer get a laptop and always look for “Energy Star” qualified TVs and other household items. You will also save a lot of money.
  • Heat dinner plates by using them as a vegetable steamer lid for 30 secs. Oh yeah!
  • Take advantage of the rebates on offer for swapping those down lights out for LED, they use 10% of the power! Also, water saving shower heads won’t just save water, they will save power by using less hot water from the system!
  • My most creative way of saving Energy would be by simply adding a few more solar panels and turbines to help generate more electricity. As the sun shines and wind blows we will always have electricity.
  • Installing LED lighting and sensors to switch off the lighting in rooms when there is no movement also smart lighting and power points where you can control on-off or via a remote or smartphone application on a phone or even the NEW apple watch.
  • Often, the major vampire power culprits are computers, chargers for cell phones or other electronics and television sets, and these can account for a huge portion of the energy bill when they’re left on at night or when not in use. We ensure to switch any unused devices off completely when they’re not in use (including the ducted heating at night) to ensure our devices do not continue sucking power when they’re not in use. Also, we regularly prefer an energy efficient dishwasher (often filling one load a day) that runs before we go to bed. To complete these habits, we plant our own veggies throughout the year and rely on watering our plants and veggies from our water tank and recycled water accumulated throughout the home.
  • Displace the water in the cistern of a toilet with a plastic bottle filled with sand/rocks to reduce water consumption.
  • 2 minutes showers,
    Use blankets when it’s cold rather than turn on heaters,
    Seal windows and doors frames to keep the place warm,
    Have lights on only in the room am in,
    Buy long lasting light bulbs,
    Don’t have curtains in my house so i get to use natural light and save energy
  • An aquaponics system. This is where you have a fish pond and the water from the fish pond circulates through a garden bed. The nutrients from the water feed the plants and the plants clean the water, leaving the fish to live in a healthy environment. The end product is fresh fruit and a fish to eat.
  • Set the outside lights on a motion sensor
  • Solar LED all around the garden. Charge a battery pack using solar during the day, then use it to charge phone at light. Solar power FTW.
  • We have a family ‘no’ electricity night. We all go outside and sit around the fire, cook and tell stories. It’s a perfect way to save electricity as well as to create lasting memories with the family.
  • I have a Wattson Energy Monitor and can instantly see when too much energy is used and which household gadget is at fault.
  • Hook up the exercise bike to the electric generator and generate power and be fit at the same time.
  • Perspex sheets held on by magnetic strips around windows for a cheap but effective double glazing! Helps keep the house toasty for longer!
  • Unplugging electronics when not in use
    switching to energy-efficient light bulbs
    washing clothing in cold water and only doing full loads taking shorter
    less hot showers turning off the faucet when brushing teeth
  • Collect kinetic energy off car and other vehicle wheels by fitting alloys that can link up to a battery, creating an electric car that would hardly need to be charged
  • Now that its winter and we have a log fire, not only do we save energy on heating but we make yummy casseroles in a camp oven sitting atop our fireplace
  • Using natural sunlight to thaw out frozen meat instead of using the microwave
  • I regularly sit in the dark to heighten my superhero night vision

How do you save energy creatively to save money? Share your great ideas using the comments below.

At Home

Creative ways to save energy August

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"Tell us your most creative way of saving energy"

We asked and we received over 2500 great ideas on how to save money creatively. Because our energy comes from wind and rain, Momentum Energy is interested in renewable energy advances, more sustainable technologies and simple ways that each and every one of us can save energy, save money and in turn, live more sustainably.

We’ve collected 200 of the most creative and fun entries – and here’s the next 75 of those 215 entries. There’ll surely be something in here to inspire you to save energy and save you money. What’s your favourite? What else do you do to save energy creatively?

  • I save energy by riding my bike on a stationary trainer to generate enough power to charge most of my devices. Getting fit and making clean energy. Two bids with one stone
  • My fish tank is filled with bio-luminescent fish, so at night instead of having the lights on the fish light up the living room.. well at least they try!
  • The greater insulation offered by green roofs can reduce the amount of energy needed to moderate the temperature of a building, as roofs are the sight of the greatest heat loss in the winter and the hottest temperatures in the summer. National Research Council of Canada found that an extensive green roof reduced the daily energy demand for air conditioning in the summer by over 75%. Also to fill your walls with hay straw because its a really good insulator.
  • Install an air pump to transfer warm air from the lounge where the wood heater is situated to the bedrooms. Cost of system is only $600 and is a DIY.
  • We have a lot of windows and have double glazed them for insulation. We keep cool in summer and warm in winter!
  • Drying wet clothes near warm appliances during winter! You can do this overnight 🙂
  • Turn off hot water system when going on holiday.
  • I have a reward chart and when my kids have all their power off they get a sticker, depending on how many stickers they get each week is how much they have earnt
  • Winding down the momentum of your electricity use getting out of control by being aware of which home appliances use the most energy.
  • Leave the car parked and ride to the shop saves energy and less pollution.
  • In order to save on energy around the home, I have invested more (on what my initial savings would be) on fitting Wi-Fi controlled LED bulbs throughout the home and all set on various timers and dim-levels to suit our liviving habits. It makes using energy fun!
  • Two interesting ways we save energy at home is, if needed, we use the clothes dryer several times (do multiple loads of washing) to piggyback the heat the dryer generates into other loads. We also try and keep the fridge full.  The food works as an insulator and keeps the temps cold.
  • We have a candlelight night once a week. It’s romantic plus it saves energy.
  • My most creative way of conserving energy would be using mowed lawn clippings, and burning it to produce light. Using an object to hold the burning clippings, you can place them around your house with the addition of the smell of nature and flowers. The resources become available every mowing season and is right out you back door.
  • Block your chimney. An unblocked fireplace can mean money up the chimney – hundreds of pounds each year. You can cap your chimney or, if you use it occasionally, block the draught with an inflatable chimney balloon. Another alternative is the ingenious Heatsaver transparent perspex fireplace shield that lets you see your fireplace but seals it when not being used and is easily removed when you want to light your fire.
  • Install a voltage optimisation device, The difference between the voltage fed into your home and what your appliances need could mean that a standard appliance takes more than 4% more current and consumes almost 9% more energy than necessary. Technology could save you up to 10pc on your electricity bills.
  • Working with a solar racing team at UNSW. Save energy by creating a solar car that has actually broken a world record!
  • Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy but is often overlooked! I make creative fun ones myself as art projects. Win – Win!
  • I used to use my DIY solar ovens to cook lunches and dinners. Because I’m busy studying and working, I can’t spend much time cooking with them. I use them to heat up water in order to remove chlorine. The oven are made from used carton boxes and aluminium foil. They don’t cost much to make but are powerful enough to cook. On a sunny day, I can cook 2 cups of brown rice in a black pot wrapped in a plastic bag 1 to 1.5 hours. The maximum temperature inside the pot can reach up to 92C which is hot enough to cook meat. This method is very eco-friendly and helps saving electricity bills.
  • Storing rain water in tanks around the house for Summer months
  • Changing all of my light bulbs in the house to energy saver bulbs
  • By opening a few doors and closing others, I can get the perfect wind flow through my house in the summer. We don’t even need air con most of the time!
  • Have a child: save energy on a dishwasher, a dryer, and a TV! They offer endless entertainment!
  • I have installed a switch at the front door that isolates all power except for my fridge. Saving hundreds on the items left on standby.
  • I learn how stuff works. Then I can understand how to use it effectively and economically while enjoying life and not being a scrooge.
  • Have 50L hot water heater (off-peak not available). Turn on 1 hr ONLY each morning.  Have sufficient hot water for myself for entire day.  If you leave HW heater turned ON, it heats up,each time you use the hot water tap & this adds 30% to my electricity bill.  Also turn off TV & computers (at wall switch), when not in use. Soon installing solar.
  • Only using cold water to wash my clothes.
  • Sleep during the daytime peak hours and party all night on off-peak rates
  • All the plug sockets in my room have a remote controlled on off switch closest to the wall plug. That way, when I leave the room it takes one easy button press to turn all the electronics off!
  • I’ve made a SWITCH that’s ENVIRONMENTALLY right. LED BULBS for my SOURCE of LIGHT. They save me MONEY and ENERGY while ILLUMINATING WATT I see.
  • Use fish bowl/tank dirty water to water citrus plant. Not only it provides moist to the soil, it also have all the benefit Nitrate as fertiliser for the plant.
  • Give the kids 10c for every light they find on and switch off.
  • Since installing solar panels i have been accutely aware of how our household uses energy. We watch our internal monitor to see how much power we areproducing and use our dishwasher, washing machine and dryer in accord with that solar production
  • Have fittings in your house that tell you when you should slow down on usage and how much you’ve already used.
  • Sit by candle light at night, it adds an air of old world charm, an overload of romance and the snuggling that ensues saves on heating bills too 😉
  • Singing shorter songs in the shower
  • Replace your heaters with a fireplace. Start the fireplace in the morning, so by the evening the house is already toasty warm.
  • Just my little life hack which is easy for singles (and even some couples too).
    • Cooking in bulk on weekends is a great way to save energy:
    • By using your oven/stove in one hit and doing your cooking for the week/fortnight you can cook more, wasting less energy than more regular smaller cookups.
    • During the winter season using the oven, & cooking on the stove will help to warm your home resulting in less need to run the heater during your cooking session.
    • By cooking and doing the cleaning all at once, you are likely to completely fill your dishwasher (a significant energy saving).
    • You save wasting energy on heating for the day & subsequently wasting more energy throughout the week cooking (and cleaning/running the dishwasher a quarter or half loaded every day or two).
    • The key is think in bulk… don’t put the dishwasher/washing machine on until it is full… same with your oven… cook an extra chook… make some sandwiches out of it. Think outside the box!
  • Well when I turn the hot water tap on to wash the dishes the water is not always hot. So I put the cold running water in a milk jug until it turns hot and then I use that water to water my garden.
  • I use a clapper on all my lights, this way it’s easier to switch them on and off when not needed.
  • I have installed wi-fi switches that allow me to switch on or off appliances remotely. I monitor online my solar output and when favourable i switch on heavy energy usage appliances so i save money and use free energy.
  • When our dishwasher gets to the drying cycle, I turn it off, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally. Over a year it saves a substantial amount of energy.
  • My living room used to be lit with 6 “tin can” downlights. When we bought the house two years ago, each of these light fittings contained a 60 Watt globe (i.e. 360 Watt total). To add insult to injury, they were coloured 1970s mission brown and, due to the inefficient nature of the globes, they got exceedingly hot with time. To avoid expense, material wastage and energy, I decided not to install new lighting; instead I sprayed the “cans” in a high gloss white automotive paint and replaced the globes with 6 Watt 4000k LED globes (36 Watt total). The fittings now look sleek and modern and, according to my calculations, I have earned my money back already!
  • Install a heat pump or a solar system for your hot water instead of other types of hot water heaters.
  • Not using power in peak times I charge everything after 10 pm at night and before 7 am I have a time of use meter works for me
  • Using a halogen oven to cook meals is not only quick but saves me a lot of money on energy bills.
  • Insulate your roof. An insulated ceiling makes a big difference to your power bills. If you already have insulation installed, check that it is properly installed and has the right rating (measured in ‘R-value’). In Victoria, insulation rated R3.5 or higher should be used for ceilings.
  • Move furniture away from vents. Take your air circulation into consideration when arranging your furniture. Placing couches, beds, or rugs directly in front or over top of heating vents prevents air from circulating properly. They can also absorb the heat you pay for. If you’re limited for space, moving beds or couches even a half a foot away from the wall can make a difference.
  • Buy a halogen oven,they are far cheaper to run than a conventional electric oven and cook in half the time.
  • After I have the 1st shower in the household, I turn the hot water off, thus saving energy and water as no one wants to stay in there any longer
  • Well energy has many different forms like heat and light so I like to combine activities that assist the other like lighting the fireplace for lighting+warmth
  • Sensor lighting! Every room! The kids often duck in and out with a fleeting ZOOM! Instantaneous peace of mind! Reduced electricity bills I unquestionably find!
  • An Apple watch app, that tells your home computer what room you’re in and automatically turns on / off the lights for you!
  • Timers, timers, timers. Instead of switching products on and off, which causes wasted energy due to spikes as well as the tendency to forget I always use timers. Set the washing, the drying, the climate to run during off peak times and run as little energy in the day for solar feed-back to the grid.
  • We used to throw out a lot of scraps and now our chickens are a good recycling unit. Scraps they don’t eat are feed to our worms. With both back yard processes we end up with fresh eggs daily, great compost and liquid fertilizer, all from waste which is changed into a new form of usable energy “food” for people and plants.
  • I got an engineer to design a device to power my TV with my excercise bike. Now I don’t pay to power my TV and I don’t need the heating on while watching it as the pedalling keeps me warm.  Getting fitter too.
  • Always turn appliances off at the power point when you not using them, have hot water set on nigfht rate. Remember to have blinds open in winter to let sunshine in, instead of having the lights on and it also helps to warm up the area but in summer use blinds to keep hot sunshine out. Only use your washing machine when you have a full load and hang washing outside instead of using a dryer.
  • Washing my clothes with cold water, with the shortest washing cycle and waiting until I have a full load. Saved me about $100 last year.
  • Hot water gets switched off every time we leave the house and back on with return! $100 saved every quarter!
  • Install a halogen oven, it uses 75% less energy than conventional ovens
  • Tell your partner about your day through interpretive dance. The physical exertion will hold you in good stead for the rest of the night.
  • Getting our 3 adult children to leave home has halved our electricity bill !! 🙂
  • I plant trees and watch them grow! Its a great green way to to save energy. My trees provide shade in the summer, which helps cool my home and reduces my reliance on my air con. They also deflects cold wind in the winter so that it does not get into your home. Most of also they offset my carbon usage.
  • Turn your clock off when not using it 😉
  • Turn lights and heater off, cuddle under a blanket together with candlelight.
  • I have set up a sensor light in the garage for the dog so when she can see when she enters the garage it comes on for 30 seconds and when she leaves it goes off saving power. A small thing but it works
  • When the weather is suitable working outside to reap the sun’s light and heat rather than sitting inside with lights and a heater on, doing exactly the same work.
  • I am looking into putting a remote timer on the instantaneous hot water so that when my daughter’s time is up, the temperature “gradually” goes down. Saves energy and water!!!
  • Having a swithch or device (card or key tag) like hotels. When you leave only the bare essentials are supplied with power (fridge, phone clock(s)) and upon your return you can activate all devices you regularly use into power saving mode using this Key.
  • Planting a tree. A well placed tree will help produce shade and can reduce cooling costs by 25 percent (according to studies). Plus theres less carbon dioxide floating around in the air too!
  • Best way I discovered was put my washing machine onto a longer wash on a cold cycle instead of a warm wash! I read the instruction manual and it showed a lower power consumption of up to about 25% which is great!
  • Rather than switching on the TV we read the IMDB synopsis of a show, and then play charades. Breaking Bad didn’t go too well.
  • I have purchased a gadget that lets me control my power outlets with my phone. Makes it so easy to switch everything off when I leave the house.
  • Packing my freezer differently to change airflow had cut my bill significantly because the fridge is working efficiently instead of random stacking!
  • Going for a jog to warm up rather then turning to the heater! Making substitutions for high energy consuming appliances and activities. Always a way to have more fun, get healthier and use less energy!

How do you save energy and save money? Share your great ideas using the comments below.

At Home

Creative ways to save energy July

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"Tell us your most creative way of saving energy"

This was the question  answered by over 2500 entrants to our recent competition, where the four winners each took home an Apple Watch Sport – congratulations again Celia, Anthony, Anne and William.  The entries we received to our competition were gave us many varied and creative ways to save energy, and in turn, save money; empowering you to live more sustainably.

We’ve collected 215 of the most creative and fun entries – there’ll surely be something in here to inspire you to save energy and save you money. Here are the first 70 of those 215 entries:

  • Tie a clean rubbish bin in the ute, throw in dirty clothes, soap and water. Drive to work, drain water on to garden, refill, drive home after work, drain again, hang out washing.
  • Not only are we using solar heating, a water tank, grow our own veggies, track energy consumption with Apps, we use compostable nappies! This is a great way to reduce energy consumption as regular nappies are made from petroleum products taking energy to produce. The move to compostable nappies reduced waste even further. Ultimately, the most creative way to save energy is not just by finding out what each of us can do but how collectively we can encourage others to do the same. Our group of friends gather weekly for dinner together and share our latest ideas on how we can save energy. By getting together, we reduce our energy consumption times the number of households gathering together in one house. Socialising is a simple way to save energy the same carpooling is not only reducing traffic but by reducing the number of cars on the streets we cut on CO2 emission. Reducing energy must come from a collective effort!
  • On the farm we’ve installed solar panels to operate the bore water pump – providing cattle with water
  • Have a small wind generator charging a 75Ah/12V battery which feeds an inverter which runs/charges all of my battery based technology, in true Sine!
  • When it gets too cold go to your local pub with a roaring fire
  • Buy an ‘In Home Display’ to work with your Smart Meter to learn how much power all your appliances use!
  • Buying a super-bright AAA efficient LED torch so I can walk around the house at night without turning on all the lights!
  • I have put my dryer up high so I can’t reach it!! Takes just a little more effort to place washing on my clotheshorse in front of the heater, has saved me a fortune! Now I’m fairly sure I can live without a dryer, I can certainly live without the bigger bills
  • I installed remote switches on all power outlets so we can shut the power to the kids bedrooms
  • I put a small plastic cup over the hot water tap to stop people from using it to wash their hands. Also saves water when waiting for the water to warm up.
  • Using my TV as the only light-source in the house at night!
  • Using energy saving lights and household appliances, planning ahead (washing, dish washing for run full loads), good insulation of the house is very important, awareness for your kids and family of the importance of energy saving
  • Having motion sensors installed in hallways, so that the light only comes on when you need it, instead of staying on when not necessary.
  • My husband & I are planning and working on installing smart switches to appliances and plan to centralise control over our smart phones. Till our smart devices are fully operational, we are constantly turning off sockets to reduce standby power consumption.
  • Seal windows, doors, loft hatches and pipework leading outside. Could save a lot of energy and make heater works more efficiently.
  • I have replaced all my globes with LED globes!!! That is saving me 90% of my lighting cost.
  • My off-peak electricity usage is between 10pm and 7am. I am charged the lowest electricity rate during this time and therefore I use this time to turn on dishwasher, washing machine, recharge my electric bicycle to go to work the next day. I’ve also switched to LED lighting and also put solar panels on my rooftop to save energy and reduce costs.
  • I use night vision goggles.
  • Time manage the electricity usage and always use 5 star electrical appliances.
  • When I have the heater on during winter to keep warm I put all my clothes that need drying in front of the heater and also on clothes racks that fit over my doors…so then I don’t have to use the clothes dryer and extra electricity, and I keep warm plus the clothes dry at the same time…
  • Our weatherboard house is high raised from the ground (and it’s very cold and uses heaps of energy during winter to warm the place. We have blocked the draughts going under the house in winter with clear plastic over the base boards …its cut down energy consumption and the house is a lot warmer now.
  • Our kids are technology freaks,
    So they must play outside three days a week,
    These days become ‘family time’,
    Soccer, board games, just sublime,
    And the added benefit – we save a dime.
  • I’ve ditched the clothes dryer for free sunshine. May take a lil longer to dry but it sure saves a lot of wasted $$
  • During winter, I use a WeMo device to automatically switch off my radiator heater on sunrise everyday. This ensures I do not leave the house with the heater switched on all day!
  • Regularly hosting games nights by candlelight
  • Using timeout devices for all non-essential appliances (I.e television) so that that the power is cut to the appliance during hours that the device will not be used (12am – 6am and during a working day when nobody is around).
  • As a consumer I would like a mobile app that showed me the following:
    • My past consumption & cost (per unit, however defined)
    • Savings lost by not taking specific deals that may have been offered to me (via the app/email/social media etc)
    • Savings achieved by taking up specific offers
    • Suggestions in the app on how to save power, best time to utilise power, most efficient and least efficient technologies or appliances.
    • A simple but attractive reward mechanism (perhaps x number of free units per billing cycle) based on how much I manage to reduce my consumption against my past history or maybe against other benchmarked customers in my area with a similar sized property and number of people residing there. Involvement and choice drive participation and outcomes.
  • To have zoned heating and cooling and thermostat controlled by mobile apps. Then can set room temperature anytime and anywhere like on the way home. Then the running cost of energy decreases
  • We have self-imposed black outs, every electrical item is turned off once a month for 24 hours.
  • Having automatic lights that switch off when you leave the room!
  • We recently changed all of our halogen down lights (all 37 of them) to LED down lights.
  • I use my cat as a hot water bottle rather than boil water. She emits plenty of heat and enjoys the attention.
  • Each week, the family is challenged to catch out each other leaving lights on, appliances on, length of time in shower. Points penalty system is applied depending on the “offence” committed.  Person with the least amount of points at the end of each week wins their choice of family activity on Sundays.
  • We have solar lights in our yards (ground lights and also solar powered sensor floodlights) that let us go outside at night time without needing to turn on the outside mains-powered floodlights (which can be hugely power hungry) . This lets us spend time outside with the dog at night without tripping over his toys in the dark.  Especially in winter when there is no daylight savings!
  • I generate organic energy. When I’m cold, I do twenty five push ups and sit ups. It’s green, and it keeps me lean.
  • My wife has made animals out of the sand snakes stopping draughts from coming under doors in our house. It’s simple but they save us heaps in our energy bill and they are a bit of fun too!
  • Use bubble wrap on all your windows…. not only does it keep the heat in but it keeps the cold out! Amazing
  • I turn my kinetic energy into electrical energy through a machine called the AMPY.
  • I like to use phone applications that track my energy use, and then each day aim to get the numbers down as much as I can
  • We often read to the kids at night using a torch. They love it!
  • I save on environmental energy by using my energy. Conserving power around home, switching off. Turning on awareness for my children.
  • I install timers so my TV, DVD, Stereo, modem, etc etc go off at 11:00pm and turn back on at 6:00am.. It all adds up!
  • Baking on cold days to heat up the house – with the added benefit of cake!
  • By having sensor lights in all houses so they turn off automatically.
  • My innovative winter clothing
    Has economy and flair
    Providing winter warmth
    Beyond compare!
    Saving heating bills
    Which is always fun
    Cash well spent on winter woollies
    Is my number one!
  • I have swap-meets with my friends, so there is less waste in the world.
  • My laundry is next to my lounge area. I hooked up an exhaust hose from my dryer to under my lounge for a warm seat in winter.
  • I built my own solar hot water system out of old copper piping, reused plastic sheets and scrap aluminium!
  • I charge my four teenagers 50cents every time I catch them leaving tv or lights on in their bedrooms when no one is using them. This money goes towards paying the electricity bill.
  • Setting timers on electrical appliances based on what time of the day I will be using them.
  • We keep containers of water in the fridge and freezer to minimise the empty space so the fridge and freezer are not working so hard to keep things cool. Is: less room for hot air to get in when door opens
  • Not the Swear Jar but the Don’t Leave the Lights On Jar or other electrical appliances if you’re not using them. The Turn-Off Jar.
  • Keep soft blankets on the lounge so we don’t need to have the heat on, plus we get to cuddle
  • Ensure your freezer is full! Partially empty freezers or refrigerators can drain energy due to warm air replacing the empty spaces of cool air when opening your freezer.
  • Cook up a roast each night – the heat from the oven heats the room thus saving on our heating bills!
  • Switch off at the wall
    To stop vampire power
    Swap PlayStation for ball
    And have a sixty second shower
  • Get a group of friends together rotate nights at each other’s homes cooking watching TV, saving power for a full night in all other homes
  • Having ‘Earth Day’ once a month where no electricity is used for 24 hours. It’s a great way to connect with the family and appreciate the things we have accessible to us that millions do not have.
  • Installing a remote controlled power circuit and app on your smart devices. Instead of turning off power points to save power and money, you can launch the app and control it from there and turn power points off. This saves money, time and helps you monitor your power usage.
  • I built an indoor cycling kit that both provides for a great workout as well as charges my phone and laptop!
  • I place a large mirror next to my window so natural light reflects on to it and brightens up a room instead of using electricity.
  • By camping on the weekends and catching and cooking food for 2 nights a week using nothing but a campfire
  • We capture rain water and then run it through a small hydro turbine for powering all the lights.
  • Using a Halogen Oven to cook some food instead of the conventional oven. Uses up to 75% less energy (or so I’ve been told)
  • Have Power timers on all of the devices.
  • I make a big thermos of coffee in the morning, instead of boiling the kettle multiple times throughout the day.
  • Once a week we cook lots of meals in the oven and freeze them for the week. The oven isn’t constantly being reheated each night using less energy, plus having the freezer full rather than empty uses less energy. a bonus in winter is that the oven is also used to assist with heating the kitchen/living area
  • To save electricity and gas costs to heat left over pizza, use an iron to heat the base and a hairdryer to melt the cheese! Yummm
  • Cleaning the external (outside) vents of my air-conditioning unit. Dirt, dust, grass etc. builds up, forcing the unit to work harder and lowering its efficiency. Regularly cleaning these vents combats this and lowers power use.
  • Candle lit dinners

What’s your most creative way of saving energy? Use the comments below to share your great ideas.