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Below Zero
21 Mar 2023

In 2021, Australians consumed approximately 61,297 kWh of energy per person, grouping us in the top 8.2% of energy consumers in the world (Source). We each have the power to reduce our energy use and make a positive impact by acting more sustainably.

Want some tips on making the largest impact in reducing your energy consumption at home and in the office? Below are five ways you can be part of the solution!

 

1. Switch off

About to clock off for the day? Don't forget that despite not being in use, your devices, machines and appliances stay on standby and continue to use energy. Before heading home each day, and especially before the weekend, holidays, or long periods of time away from the office, turn off power points or unplug all appliances from the wall. You can even do this at home, before leaving for work! Think about computers, desktops, chargers, kitchen appliances (toasters, coffee machines, kettles, etc.), Wi-Fi routers, heating devices and anything else you plug into the wall! (Source

Action: Switch off power points or unplug all appliances from the wall.

 

2. Air conditioners and heaters

In the office 

Aim to always wear weather-appropriate clothing, especially when working on campus. As we head into the winter months, instead of using inefficient personal space heaters, remember that layering clothing is one of the most effective ways of maintaining a comfortable body temperature. Don't forget about warm socks and footwear, as well as thermals. Adding a local heater will stop the main system from working and exacerbate your temperature struggles. Instead, provide feedback to your building's Facilities Team or through the ANUOK App and Fix My Campus to investigate whether change is possible in your area. When the air conditioner or heater is on, remember to keep all windows and doors closed! 

At home 

When at home, try to use aircons and heaters only when necessary. If you know that it will be an extreme heat day, turn the aircon on as early as possible and ensure that all windows and doors are kept closed and blinds and curtains drawn. Cooling the room in the morning before it gets too hot will use less energy. On mildly warm days, try using fans instead which have lower energy needs. 

A 1ºC difference in your air conditioner can alter your energy use by approximately 10%. So, in summer, try dialling it up by 1ºC and in winter, down by 1ºC. Some stats show that you could save 200 kg of carbon dioxide per year! (Source)  

During winter, only heat the rooms you are using to reduce your energy consumption.

The ACT government recommend setting your aircon at 23ºC or above in summer and between 18º - 20ºC during winter. 

Action: Dial the aircon down in winter and up in summer.

 

3. LED Lights

At home

What's up? No seriously, look up at the lights. Are you using LED light bulbs at home? If not, consider switching over to LEDs. These energy-efficient bulbs use less power, last longer and emit approximately 80% less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than an incandescent light bulb. You could also look into investing in light timers, which are a great way to ensure that lights have not been left on accidentally. These simple steps reduce costs and emissions, it's a win-win! (Source) 

In the office

Currently, many buildings at the ANU Acton campus use LED bulbs with sensors to ensure efficiency, although there is more work to do! ANU Facilities & Services team is currently working on a long-term project to transition all ANU buildings to LEDs in order to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings and reduce the University's carbon footprint. If you notice a bulb or sensor that has stopped working, submit a request on Fix My Campus via your building's Facilities Team or the ANUOK App. 

Action: Change any incandescent light bulbs to LED lights and consider installing light timers.

 

4. Kitchen appliances

Whether at home or in the office, you can take simple steps to reduce your energy consumption in the kitchen. 

Having a cuppa? Don't overfill the kettle! Kettles are one of the most energy-intensive appliances in the kitchen. Reduce your energy use by only filling the kettle with as much water as you and your colleagues need for your morning and afternoon breaks. If your communal kitchen on campus has an instant hot water tap, even better! These devices are both more energy and water efficient than an electric kettle. 

Check the settings on your fridge at home or in the communal space at work to ensure the fridge is set between 3 and 5ºC and freezers between -15 and -18 ºC. Temperatures less than these ranges increase energy use by 5% per degree. (Source) 

Not sure if you are hungry or not? Decide what you need before opening the door! Leaving the fridge or freezer door open for long periods decreases its internal temperature, forcing the cooling unit to run for longer and increasing its energy use. Try reducing the number of times you open the fridge or freezer door and be quick about it! (Source) 

Are you being as dishwasher-safe as your crockery? Only run the dishwasher if it's full and use cold water or the eco setting on the device to reduce its energy needs. 

Action: Use kitchen appliances more efficiently by not overfilling the kettle or leaving the fridge door open. 

 

5. Natural resources

At home

Maximise your use of natural resources. Position your desk next to a window in order to optimise the natural light. Think about making use of other measures that can maximise natural light, including those suggested by the Australian Government

  • Light-coloured furnishings
  • Reflective surfaces
  • Skylights
  • Shading device control 
  • Glare reduction 
  • Electrochromic glazing

If there's a breeze, use windows and doors instead of the aircon. If you are hot or cold, wear weather-appropriate clothing instead of turning the temperature up or down on energy-intensive devices like aircon and space heaters.

Action: Use natural resources instead of devices requiring energy.

 

Bonus move - get others involved!

Want to gamify sustainability action and grow your positive impact around ANU? If you are an ANU staff or student, join the ANU version of the award-winning One Small Step app. Find out more information on how to join here.

Looking for more ways to reduce your energy use at home, check out these tips and tricks on the ACT Government website.