Electricity in the Northern Territory

Living in the Northern Territory is unique in many ways, one of which is how we consume electricity. Did you know, on average Territorians use more electricity than the rest of Australia? Our climate is the main reason why.

From the tropical Top End, to the dessert plains in the Red Centre, the NT experiences some extreme weather conditions. As we try to stay cool in the heat, we often find power bills peak over summer or the wet season.

For example, you might not use your fridge more often when it’s warmer, but it will use more electricity. Your fridge needs to work harder to stay cool in the heat.

You can’t change the weather but you can make changes every day to reduce your electricity bill.

Energy in the Northern Territory

On average, cooling costs account for up to 40% of an Australian household’s energy bill. Use these steps to beat the heat (and avoid a big bill):

  • Set your aircon between 24˚C to 27˚C and use your ceiling fans. This will reduce humidity and cold air will be distributed more evenly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         *Remember, every degree you lower your aircon can increase its running costs by up to 10%.*
  • Keep your ceiling fans dust-free, it will decrease friction and prevent the motor from heating up.
  • Clean your aircon filters regularly. A clogged-up filter can increase your unit’s running costs by 5-10% as your aircon works harder to achieve a similar result.
  • Run your aircon on a timer to reduce how often it is used.
  • Use plants, trees and shade cloths to shade your home from the sun. By doing this you can reduce the amount of heat that enters your house.
  • Close the door to rooms that don’t need to be cooled. The less work your aircon needs to do, the less electricity it will use.
  • When buying a new aircon, consider a model with at least a 4.5 star energy rating. You can compare models at www.energyrating.gov.au.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       *Every extra star can reduce running costs by 10%.*

Lighting can account for between 8-15% of the average home’s total energy usage. Use these tips to light up your house (while dimming your electricity costs):

  • Always use natural light when you can.
  • Only light the space you need. For example: if you are in a large room with multiple lights, it might be better to use a lamp instead.
  • Replace old globes with LED globes. LED globes use around 80% less energy and last longer.

In some homes, appliances can account for up to 30% of the household’s total energy use. Be switched on and implement these tips to reduce your usage:

  • Turn appliances off at the switch.  *Standby power still uses electricity and in some homes it can account for approximately 10% of the total energy usage.*
  • Don’t leave the television on for ‘white noise’. If you aren’t directly using it, turn it off.
  • Maintain your appliances and monitor their age.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             *You’d be surprised how much electricity an old TV can use.*
  • When possible, always buy energy efficient appliances. You can compare running costs of appliances here: www.energyrating.gov.au.

Food isn’t the only thing you can cook up in the kitchen, use these tips to cook up some tasty savings :

Fridge

  • Set your fridge’s temperature between 3°C and 5°C, and the freezer between -15°C and -18°C.
  • Ensure your fridge is not in direct sunlight. The warmer it is, the harder your fridge needs to work.
  • Make sure your fridge and freezer door seals are in good condition. Place a piece of paper between the fridge and the fridge door. If the seals don't hold the paper in place when the fridge’s door is shut, then consider replacing them.
  • Leave some space around the back of your fridge or freezer to allow air to circulate around the motor.
  • A rarely-used second fridge can cost you more than $200 a year. Consider disposing of it or switching it off when you don’t use it.
  • When you are buying a new fridge, choose a 4.5 star model. It will cost approximately $60 less to run each year than an average 450-litre fridge with a 2 star rating.

There are loads of savings to be made while doing the laundry, implement these tips to reduce your usage:

Washing machine

  • Wash your clothes on an economical or shorter cycle.
  • Wash clothes with cold water, hot water uses more electricity.
  • Always wash a full load to avoid wasting electricity on several smaller loads.
  • When buying a new washing machine, choose one with a high energy star rating.                                                                                                                                                                                               *A six star model over a one star model can save you up to $200 a year.*

Dryer

  • Use the sun to dry your clothes when possible.
  • When buying a dryer, choose one with the highest star rating possible. Every extra star cuts 15% off its running costs.
  • Don’t overload your dryer as it will need more energy to dry your clothes.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter after use. It will make sure your dryer runs efficiently.
  • Set your dryer to ‘warm’ rather than ‘hot’. Clothes may take longer to dry, but you’ll use less energy overall.

A pool can be a great way to beat the NT heat but you can also dip into potential savings by implementing these tips:

  • Engage your local pool shop to calculate your optimal pool pump running time. Reducing the pump’s running time by a few hours a day could save you up to $350 a year.
  • Test your water regularly. Having the right chemical balance will mean your pump won't need to work as hard to keep the water clean.
  • Clean the skimmer box and filters regularly to reduce pressure on your pool pump.

Further resources

Solar options Residential consumption caculator