Energy Conservation

​Electricity is the main source of energy in most New Zealand homes. Additionally some homes use gas for cooking and/or heating. Solid fuel, such as wood and coal is another source of energy and is frequently used for heating homes. 

Water heating accounts for the biggest portion of your power bill. Another 30% goes on space heating, and running appliances represents one-fifth of your bill.

Any power savings you achieve at home will not only help to protect the local and global environment, they can actually result in substantial savings on a household's power bill. It is estimated that households could save up to 30% of their monthly power bills by following a few simple measures. 

Energy conservation tips


  • When using the kettle only boil the amount of water you need.
  • Use lids on saucepans and match the element size to the pot.
  • Use the microwave for cooking and defrosting small items. Microwaves use 30% less energy than electric and gas ovens.
  • Allow food to cool before placing in the fridge or freezer.
  • Check the air-seals on your fridge and freezer doors.
  • As older appliances wear out replace them with energy efficient ones. Shop around and ask to see the Energy Star efficiency rating labels.
  • Use the dishwasher when it is full and on the economy setting.
  • Put the plug in if washing dishes by hand.
  • Defrost fridges and freezers regularly to improve efficiency.
  • Freezers operate more efficiently when full. Freeze water in plastic bottles if you need to fill up space.
  • Think before you open the fridge door. The longer the door is open, the more energy that is lost.

Living areas

  • Turn off your TV, stereo or computer. Turning appliances off at the wall can save you up to 5% of your power bill.
  • Draw the curtains to keep in heat. Lined curtains are more effective.
  • Switch off the lights and where possible use compact florescent energy saving bulbs rather than incandescent bulbs. Lighting accounts for 10% of an electricity bill.
  • Don't overheat your home and don't heat areas of your home that you don't need to.
  • To cool your home down pull curtains or open up windows to let a breeze flow through rather than using air-conditioning or a fan.

 The laundry

  • Only use the washing machine with a full load.
  • Dry your clothes outside instead of the dryer, or use your hot water cylinder or a sunny window to air clothes if they are feeling damp.
  • If you have to use a clothes dryer, clear the lint screen regularly to improve efficiency.
  • Avoid setting your washing machine to high temperature settings and wash in cold water as much as possible.
  • Switch off the washing machine when you are not using it. A washing machine can use as much electricity left on stand-by for a day as a load of washing. 

The bathroom

  • Take a shower not a bath.
  • Install a low flow shower head which reduces your water flow to about seven litres per minute without spoiling your shower experience. It will pay for itself after two years.
  • Check your water temperature. The recommended temperature for hot water is 55°C at the tap.
  • Fix leaky taps. Dripping hot water can cost you $30 a year to your electricity account.
  • How's your hot water cylinder? Hot water tanks over 15 years old had less insulation when they were constructed. This can cost you about $130 each year on your electricity bill. A 'cylinder wrap' made of fibreglass or wool, sandwiched between foil and plastic or cotton can be fitted around the tank.
  • Lengths of pipe containing hot water radiate energy, so pipe wrapping also helps to keep the heat where it is wanted, in the water. Once you have lagged the pipes you may find that the water arrives significantly hotter at the tap, so the temperature of the water to the tap can be reduced by a few degrees saving you even more energy.


  • Use self-adhesive strips available for your hardware store to seal around windows and doors to stop draughts.
  • Consider double-glazing your home, especially if you are building or renovating.
  • Investigate the cost of insulating your ceiling to keep as much of the 'rising heat' in as possible.
  • Try door draught 'sausages' against the doors. Draughts can steal away up to 20% of the warm air from your home.
  • Investigate under floor insulation for your home.
  • Block any open fireplace chimney that is not in use. Cover it with a board.
  • Wrap up the walls, ceiling and floor. Over 30% of an uninsulated house's heat loss goes out through the walls. Insulating walls, plus ceiling and floor at construction time is far more affordable and effective than adding it afterwards.

How much energy are you using?

Find out the energy use footprint of your household; work out just how much energy you and your family are using.

Time is measured in hours; electricity is measured in watts and kilowatts (one thousand watts makes one kilowatt). Electrical energy is measured in kilowatt-hours. A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy present in one kilowatt of electricity supplied for one hour of time.

One kilowatt hour is enough electrical energy to keep a standard 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours. Your house has a meter that records the amount of energy used by your household.

Find the meter in your home and record the number on your meter. Make sure you record the date you took this reading. In one week, do this again, and subtract the new number from the old one to determine how many kilowatt-hours of electrical energy your family has used in a week.

To find out how much this will cost your family, ring the electricity company that supplies the energy to your home or check a recent power invoice for your tariff rates. 

Work on ways of reducing your energy usage with your family, so when you repeat this exercise they will have used less energy, and made a saving.

Page reviewed: 21 Jan 2016 11:54am