Members of a share house often live separate lives, so it can be tricky to encourage your housemates to save energy, especially when the topic of splitting bills is a sensitive subject. But we’re here to help. Follow these five ways of sharing energy to help make your home eco-friendly, wallet-friendly and just plain friendly.
Energy monitors are simple, inexpensive devices that clip on to a cable on your electricity metre and transmit information about when and where you’re using the most energy. Installing one in a share home and doing an energy audit will help you get a clear view of exactly where you and your housemates need to start being a little more cautious, and can help you divide up the bills.
Keep-the-peace tip: a few dollars here and there isn’t worth a major argument. Keep it in perspective – if the difference in energy use between housemates is minimal, think about splitting the bills evenly to avoid conflict.
Turning on the oven, stove or microwave just once uses far less energy than if each member of the household uses the appliances at different times. As a bonus, you’ll probably save money on groceries and, if you cook up a big batch of something, you can all have the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Keep-the-peace tip: conflicting schedules and different tastes may mean that you can’t do this every night, but cooking together at least once a week can still reduce your energy bills.
Wash a full load of laundry
If you’re the type to divide up your colours or you just don’t have a lot of laundry, you might find yourself wasting energy on small laundry loads. Instead, make sure you have a full load each and every time you wash by asking your housemates if they have anything that needs cleaning.
Keep-the-peace tip: avoid falling into the trap of always doing your housemates’ washing by organising a roster for group laundry and sticking to it.
Use the dishwasher
If two or three people each wash their dishes by hand every time they finish cooking, they’ll use far more energy and time than if they just loaded up the dishwasher and ran it every two or three nights. If you have a dishwasher, use it. If not, consider washing everyone’s dishes together at the end of the night to minimise hot water waste.
Keep-the-peace tip: take it in turns to do everyone’s washing at once so the responsibility doesn’t fall on one housemate.
Reduce shower time
Showering accounts for more than half of the hot water used in the average home. If each member of your household agrees to spend just four minutes or less in the shower, you could reduce your hot water costs by up to 20 per cent. This is a huge saving for a share house and makes it well worth cutting down on those ‘vanity minutes’.
Keep-the-peace tip: buy a timer that everyone can use to monitor their shower time. If someone happens to shower for five or six minutes occasionally, it’s worth letting it slide to keep the peace. If someone is spending eight minutes in the shower every night, it’s worth having a chat.
Once you're working with your housemates to save energy, it might be time to reassess whether you're on the right plan. If you think you need to change, try EnergyAustralia’s free online estimate tool.