Guide to going carbon neutral

There are steps you can take to reduce your environmental footprint.
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  • Updated:3 Nov 2007

05.Step 2: Reduce

Inside and outside the home, there are steps you can take to use less energy, save money and be more efficient. For detailed tips and information, check out the Australian Greenhouse Office Cool it 2007 Guide.

For particular household appliances and electrical items, check the energy efficiency scores in CHOICE's product tests. We measure energy consumption for almost every electrical appliance we test.

Here are some tips to get you started:


  • Look for energy and water-efficient models: check Energy Star Ratings and check Water Star Ratings (more stars means more efficiency) and the energy and water efficiency scores in CHOICE tests.
  • Clothes washing: only use the machine when it’s full; choose one that uses the least energy and water (check its star ratings) and, and wash in cold water.
  • Clothes drying: use a clothes line or rack if possible (to avoid using an electric dryer).
  • Dishwashers: only use it when it’s fully loaded, try a shorter wash cycle if dishes aren’t very dirty, and clean the filter to maintain performance.


  • According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, a large-screen TV (LCD or plasma), used for six hours a day, can generate more GHGs per year than a family fridge. So try to buy efficient models, and don’t leave the TV on when you’re not watching it.
  • Standby power: many appliances use energy even when on standby. Standby power contributes to about 10% of home electricity use, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). When practical, turn them off at the power point – the ACF says this’ll save $100 per year. If that’s not convenient, at least turn the appliance off.

Heating and cooling

  • Insulate ceilings and walls.
  • Provide external and internal shading for windows. Remember, insulation, shading and draught proofing and fans will reduce the need for air conditioning.
  • Air conditioning is particularly energy-intensive for cooling, so try to limit its use, replace yours with a more efficient model or a ceiling fan.
  • Turning up the thermostat by one degree in summer and down in winter can reduce heating and cooling costs by around 10%.
  • Electric water heating is a major greenhouse polluter. High-efficiency gas water heaters, electric solar systems and solar gas systems are better for the environment than electric heaters. Solar heaters start from around $2000 and can cost up to $5000, plus another $700 for installation, but rebates of up to $1000 are available nationally, and some states have further rebates. (See our article on Government rebates for going green.
  • Further hot water savings can be achieved by taking shorter showers and installing a low flow (3 star) shower rose.


  • Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and LED lights use less energy and than incandescent bulbs and will also save you money.
  • Over its life, a typical CFL saves around 0.45 tonnes of ghg and $62.50 and avoids the cost of 6 or more incandescent globes.


  •  Walking, cycling and public transport and walking are more environmentally friendly options than cars. Cycling just 10km each way to work once a week instead of driving saves hundreds of dollars in transport costs and hundreds of kilograms greenhouse pollution a year.
  • Buy a greener car. Check out the Green Vehicle Guide for ranking of emissions and pollution from new cars, and fuel consumption of secondhand cars.
  • Drive efficiently (for example, keep your revs down, tyres at the right pressure and don’t carry excess weight).
  • Flights: can you reduce the number of flights you take? Also, consider buying carbon offsets for flights for the flights you can't avoid.

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