Open navigation

Energy Usage: Understanding and Reducing your Invoices

Whether you’re looking to decrease your energy invoices or reduce your overall energy use, there are benefits to everyone in understanding what energy you’re using and how you can use less at home. This article outlines in detail a range of information that will give you a head start on what to look out for, what you can do, where else to go and what makes up your energy use.


  • Home heating and cooling is frequently about 40-50% of your invoice. Any efforts to reduce the frequency of using these appliances or setting the temperature slightly higher or lower may reduce your overall usage.
  • Be on the lookout for your standby power usage. Appliances that are on at the power point, but not in use, still consume power. Turning off appliances at the power point or ensuring they are off instead of in a "sleep” or "standby” mode can lower your usage.
  • Setting goals is a valuable way to ensure you make conscious efforts towards saving energy, such as “I will use my heater less to reduce my invoice from this time last year". You can even check this on your invoice, as we let you know what your usage was last year at the same time in the "Understanding your Consumption” part of your invoice.

Getting Started with Saving Energy

When first starting off, it’s important to explore different ways that you can decrease your usage, varying from how you use energy, managing standby power and setting yourself goals. Research shows that over 27% of household energy can be saved through more efficient energy use. 

We’ll break down what you need to know into three main areas: 

  • Helping with Heating and Cooling, 
  • Understanding Standby Power,
  • Energy Thinking. 

Importantly, every household will have a different ‘best way’ to save on usage. We recommend you firstly try what is easiest for you to change, and then you can try some of the more difficult changes that might save more on your invoice. Finally, there are plenty of others resources you can find online about saving energy. Remember to investigate sites such as Sustainability Victoria and YourHome for further advice that may suit your needs. 


Helping with Heating and Cooling:
Home heating and cooling is a vital area for you to consider when looking for areas to save on your invoice. The Average Australian household may see up to 40-50% of their energy invoice related to heating and cooling. For example, if you have an invoice that has $70 of energy charges in a month, $28 - $35 of that could be exclusively from heating and cooling your home.


If you have a look at Figure A, you'll see some calculations we did estimating the costs of using a space heater overnight. As you can see, the costs of heating can be surprisingly hefty for one week. For more detailed information about this, check out the Choice website here.

Out of all the appliances, the Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner has the highest efficiency, so try to prioritise it for heating and cooling if you have one. It's also important to know that on cold days, every degree above 20°C can increase running costs by 10%. This is also the case on hot days: every degree below 24°C can increase running costs by 10% as well.  

Finally, think about how you're heating and cooling. If you find that you're leaving the home with the heater running, or you're cooling rooms you're not using, stop yourself and remember to turn those appliances off, as you won't be experiencing the benefits at all! Sustainability Victoria compares a variety of heating types here.


Understanding Standby Power:

Our monthly usage comes from so many different sources, and some of them are inevitable. As a result, we need to identify which "Power Drains” we can reduce, and which are avoidable. Knowing which Power Drains we can impact allows you to prioritise the things you can change.


Avoidable Power Drains:

Most small appliances (toasters, kettles, computer monitors, vacuum cleaner chargers, TVs, gaming systems and more) have a default power setting known as Standby Mode. Up to 10% of your invoice ($10 from a $100 invoice) can be from appliances on Standby mode, draining power whilst not in use. Make sure to turn off the appliance at the power point to stop this. 

Reducible power drains:

No matter how much we want, we will always need to use lights, fridges and other appliances. Although not everyone can change their appliances, it’s worth knowing that those with higher energy efficiency ratings will always use less energy, while LED/CFL light bulbs will consume far less energy than traditional halogen bulbs. Alternately, different light fittings can spread light out better, requiring less lights to light your home.


Energy Thinking:

With everything in mind, the most important thing to remember is that it is possible to save energy in the home with small changes, that can add up to make a big difference. If you are going out for the day, or just using one room, avoid using more than you need. Using natural lighting is a good example of this, as the sun is the cheapest source of both heat and light.


You can also monitor your behaviour carefully for small everyday savings. It’s small, but making sure to leave your fridge and freezer door closed saves on energy. It's also very important to be as efficient as possible with appliances, such as running the dishwasher and loads of laundry when nearly full (but not exceeding).


It’s worth giving you local library a consideration: as part of government initiatives to improve energy awareness, some libraries (like those is Boroondara) allow you to borrow equipment to measure device use at your home! This includes home energy meters and thermal imaging cameras. You can use this to measure your own usage or use the thermal camera to see where heat might be leaking and even find appliances that use a lot of energy.


There are two final things you can do: 

Set goals for yourself and to talk to others about your own usage patterns and saving techniques. When it comes to setting goals, you can use your energy invoice as a guide: each month’s invoice provides information about the previous invoice, and the invoice from last year at that time. Set goals and try to reduce your usage each month! 

Figure D: An example of the information from your invoices. Look for these next time you receive an invoice from us!


Finally, when you talk to others about your usage, just ask what they are doing to save and what kind of impact they are seeing. They may have thought of something you (or we, for that matter) haven't even considered!

We'd love some feedback regarding your interest in the topic and the information included. Perhaps you would like to know more, or maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Either way, please click the link to the survey below; it should take less than 5 minutes, and we'd love the feedback

Click here for Survey

References: If you'd like to know more, these are all useful resources to explore!

Energy efficiency and reducing emissions, Sustainability Victoria. Available at:

Australian Government, Energy Rating Calculator. Available at: 

Energy saving reviews, tests, information and buying guides, CHOICE. Available at: 

Energy, YourHome. Available at:

Saving energy in your home, Boroondara City Council. Available at

Did you find it helpful? Yes No

Send feedback
Sorry we couldn't be helpful. Help us improve this article with your feedback.