Saving energy at home with a new baby
A new baby can increase your home's energy consumption by around 25%. Here’s a few ways to ensure you stay energy efficient.
A new addition often means someone is suddenly home almost 24/7. And that means dialling up the air conditioning or heating, giving the washing machine a workout and adding even more appliances to the kitchen bench, affecting your home’s energy consumption by around 25%.
At a time when all kinds of new costs are coming to the fore, being energy efficient is even more important.
There’s a world of electrical gadgets promising to make life easier for new parents: monitors, breast pumps, bottle sterilisers, baby swings and even baby wipe warmers. The questions are, how will these add to your energy consumption, and how can you keep it under control?
First, consider which items in your home can do double duties. A standalone electric bottle warmer might not be needed if your microwave can do the job just as well (of course, you should always make sure to check the milk is not too hot before feeding your baby) – avoiding extra benchtop clutter and another item drawing standby power day and night.
Make it a habit to switch appliances off at the wall before you go to bed, or install smart power boards that limit ‘vampire power’ wastage when devices aren’t in use.
If your new gadgets are chargeable, turn chargers off at the wall when you’re done with them, too.
Little bubs can make a big mess, so you can expect appliances like washing machines, vacuums and dishwashers to get a lot more use. With appliances accounting for around 30% of home energy use, this can have a big impact – so it’s a good time to consider upgrading to more energy-efficient models.
If you’re not ready to upgrade, use eco settings where possible, only run washing machines and dishwashers when you have a full load, and swap your dryer for your clothesline or indoor rack when you can.
When it comes to nappies, it’s tempting to wash them as they’re used just to avoid the smell of a nappy pile. But ask your local baby shop or look online for a nappy bucket with an airtight seal, and save the extra laundry loads as well as your home’s smell.
A new baby isn’t the most active creature. With any luck, it’ll sleep a lot, and when it’s awake, it doesn’t need a lot of space to be happy. So there’s no point heating or cooling your entire house during extreme temperatures – just the room or two you’re using.
On super hot days when the aircon would really suck some energy, you can give it a rest by going to a parents and babies art gallery tour or a baby-friendly session at the local cinema.
And when you are using the aircon or heater for longer periods, the usual energy efficiency advice is even more important:
- Consider using fans; you might not need to switch the aircon on as soon as you think.
- Choose a temperature between 18–20°C in winter and 25–27°C in summer – each degree you lower the temperature in summer or raise it in winter increases energy consumption by around 5-10%.
- Leave your heating or cooling devices at a consistent level while you’re home, rather than repeatedly switching them off and on again, which can use more energy getting back to temperature.
- In summer, close your curtains and blinds in the morning, and set up a play area in a tiled room that doesn’t face the sun – it will stay cooler throughout the day. In winter, open your curtains up to benefit from the sunshine and play in a carpeted area.
- No matter the season, dress your baby so you can easily add or remove layers. A good rule of thumb is the same number of layers you’re wearing, plus one.
Make time for action
A baby leaves little time to brainstorm solutions on the fly, and even less to make changes to your home – so consider how you can make your space more energy efficient before your little one arrives.
A baby can lead to a huge 25% increase in home energy consumption.
Could light-blocking curtains help keep your baby’s room dark and the temperature regulated? Set aside a day to properly seal draughts around windows and doors. And if you haven’t already, consider whether it’s the right time for your family to switch to solar energy.
Take advantage of the sunshine
Being home most of the day means that if you have solar panels, you can do your energy-intensive tasks while the sun is shining to take full advantage of your system.
Wash and dry clothes in the morning, turn on the dishwasher after breakfast, vacuum while baby’s in the bouncer, and while baby sleeps, forget about it all for a moment and enjoy your tea before it goes cold!
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