Home safety checklist and energy savings tips for seniors

What does home isolation mean for your energy and gas bill? And what does a safe home look like for seniors who need to spend more time at home?

Your Home
7 min read
Making just a few adjustments at home can help you improve energy efficiency and avoid hazards, staying safe during home isolation.

With many seniors in our community spending more time at home, their households may see an increase in energy use. We’ve put together a list of top practical tips to stay safe and help reduce energy costs during this pandemic:

1. Cooking

With more time available to spend cooking up your favourite recipes (like those from YiaYia’s Greek Kitchen) make sure to cook on a low heat to save energy and turn the handles of saucepans away from the stove when cooking. Where possible put lids on pots and fry pans so that you’ll avoid any splashes and use less energy to cook your food. Defrost your food in advance and try cooking more than one meal at once to save time and energy.

2. Heating/cooling

We all love to be comfortable in our own homes, however heating and cooling your home can have a huge impact on your power bill, and there are also hazards to consider.

The optimal household temperature is between 18 – 20°C in winter and 24 – 27⁰C in summer. Every degree above or below this range, depending on the season, can add an extra 10% to your heating or cooling bill. If you use a portable heater, make sure it’s away from any hanging objects, blankets or furniture to avoid things catching on fire.

3. Utilise the online world

Instead of going into the supermarket or your local post office, you can stay at home and utilise the online world to have your groceries delivered or pay your bills without leaving your home. For instance, there are a number of ways to pay your AGL energy bills online.

4. Watch out for large appliances

If you have a dishwasher, make sure you close the door properly to avoid any trips, and only use it when full. The same applies to washing clothes – wait for a full load before pressing start and use the most appropriate cycle.

Look to move any tables that stick out from corners and make sure that your refrigerator door closes properly to keep items cool and prevent leaks.

5. Lighting

It’s important to keep the areas in your home well lighted to make your living spaces safe and comfortable. If you notice a light has gone out, change it as soon as possible following correct safety measures – or ask a family member or friend to help.

Upgrading to energy-efficient lighting is another easy way to reduce the amount of energy that you use. Consider investing in energy-efficient LEDs that can last 20-25 times longer than typical halogen bulbs, saving you time and energy. Using lamps is also a great way to use less power because you’re only lighting the spaces that you need.

6. Go on a news diet

The news about the pandemic can seem overwhelming at times. And while it’s good to stay up to date with the most current information so we can all keep ourselves safe, it can be good for our mental health to take a break from the news coverage and focus on other things that lift the mood.

If the TV news is starting to get you down, turn your attention to something else, like picking up the phone and connecting with your friends or family. Running the television for long periods of time may also be costing you a surprising amount on your energy bills. A three-star rated TV that’s turned on for four hours a day will cost around $78 a year. So, there’s more than one good reason to consider picking up your favourite book. Or if you are in a position to buy a new TV, purchase one with as many energy stars as possible.

7. Outdoor area

No matter what type of outdoor space you might have, with a little effort you can make your outdoor area safe against fall hazards.

Think about installing a sturdy rail at each entrance of your home and make sure that there is plenty of light for visibility. To maximise the energy efficiency of your outdoor living area, think about solar lighting and LED sensor lights that only turn on when you are there.

If you love to spend time outdoors in your garden, nurturing your plants or flowers, make sure that your water sprinkling system is on a timer in the warmer months, to reduce the amount of water that you may be using. One to two watering sessions per week are usually sufficient. It’s better to water less often but with plenty of water rather than a little water often.

Tending to your garden is a great way to stay active, get some fresh air, and improve your mental health. You might even like to grow your own sustainable vegetable garden, which can help to minimise your environmental footprint as well as providing fresh veggies for you.

8. Exercising and staying social

Research has shown that exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. Consider taking a walk or doing some gardening to improve your circulation. This may help reduce blood pressure and improve your energy levels.

Now may also the perfect time to learn about new technology! If it sounds daunting, ask a family member or friend to help you navigate Instagram, Snapchat, Facetime, Houseparty, or Zoom which all allow you to socialise from the comfort of your own home. You can share pictures, connect through video conferencing, and even play games.

9. Be prepared

Being prepared doesn’t mean hoarding food or living in a state of panic, during these times. It simply means being organised and thinking ahead of time about how to stay safe if there was an unexpected turn of events. Here are a few tips:

  • Prepare candles or flashlights in the unlikely chance of a power outage;
  • Have emergency contacts that you can reach out to for help;
  • Plan for your medical needs, identify a pharmacy that will deliver medical aid or a loved one;
  • Keep your mobile phone charged;
  • Ask a neighbour, friend or family member to check in once a week and deliver groceries or any other supplies you need; and
  • Stay up to date with the current safety advice.

Implementing a plan early on will play a key role in keeping you safe if anything unexpected happens.

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