Would you leave the house with the tap running or the air-conditioning on? Most likely not, but I bet with a closer look many of us will find we are doing something similar every day. "A leak" at home generally refers to water coming out of your taps or pipes. However, what you could find is that it's actually electricity that you're "leaking", caused by power flowing from electrical appliances or similar.
These hidden leaks can cost households thousands of dollars per year in wasted energy. Generally, most of us would call a plumber if we noticed a tap leaking, but because we cant see an electricity leak, it’s very difficult to know when we even have one. A household's average energy bill in Australia is $1,690 per year, but as electricity prices continue to rise across the country, leaks are a growing problem that you need to search for and stop sooner rather than later.
Out of sight, out of mind may be the general opinion of most households, especially when a leaking tap leaves evidence behind whilst an electricity leak doesn’t. Most households will be completely unaware that they are even wasting bucket loads of electricity each day / week.
In Western Australia, the state government conducted an energy efficiency study during 2012 and the results revealed that numerous households could save up to $1,000 on their power bills by simply changing their behaviour. Certain homes were able to save $200 per year from little actions such as turning off the lights and appliances when they are not in use or using fans instead of air conditioners.
The same study demonstrated that kitchen appliances, electronics, light bulbs, small heaters and air conditioners could account for electricity wastage of up to 44% of a household’s bill. One of the main culprits for this form of wastage is cheap electrical products e.g. heaters, which may cost very little to buy but over the course of their lives may consume more electricity than a better energy rated product.
Businesses suffer from electricity wastage too with it being one of the biggest operating costs for many. Grocery stores, for example, witness electricity bills consuming as much as 15% of their budget. Lets put this into perspective; in 2012 three IGA stores in Western Australia shaved $40,000 off their annual electricity costs by making some slight adjustments to the way they managed their energy consumption. This should be a case study that city mayors look at on a larger scale for their streets and buildings. City buildings across the world account for 40% of global energy consumption, something that could be drastically reduced.
You may now be thinking that the energy companies these days offer smart meters to monitor consumption, but in reality they aren’t that smart. These devices show you very little such as total kilowatts per hour, a unit price and the amount due. What would really add value is if these devices could tell you which electrical products in the house are consuming energy 24 hours per day or have never been turned off since installation. This information is something that people could act upon to save money, because at the moment the current information displayed is pretty useless in my opinion which we can't do that much with.
How to Save Money by Plugging Electricity Leaks
- Replace old inefficient appliances because they will be costing you.
- Use LED light bulbs wherever possible.
- Utilise economy cycles on dishwashers and washing machines.
- Turn off all lights that are not needed.
- Check garden light timers as the seasons change.
- Fill your mug with water and then put into the kettle to avoid boiling too much water.
- Recommended fridge settings are 4-5 degrees and freezer settings 15-18.