Understanding energy use and peak times

Which appliances and utilities use the most energy and when is the best time to use your electricity for maximum efficiency? Let’s take a look at the typical Australian home…

On average, heating and cooling (or ‘space conditioning’ as researchers call it) use the largest amount of energy – around 40% of total household energy use. Appliances and technology account for about 25% of household energy use, while hot water systems use 23%. With the shift to energy efficient LED bulbs (which use 80% less electricity than halogen bulbs) lighting accounts for about 7% of household energy use*. The energy consumption of individual appliances depends on their efficiency, and thanks to the government’s Energy Rating Label, consumers can calculate the average energy use of their appliances based on their usage.

Australian consumers have an increasing appetite for solar energy to meet their energy needs. According to Roy Morgan, as at June 2022, 32.3% of Australian households had solar energy systems (including rooftop solar), and for hot water systems or pools. The Clean Energy Regulator says the uptake of solar PV systems by Australians is driven by the need to both lower energy costs and secure supply, citing the trend towards more people working from home since the pandemic began.

For those households that have a solar panel array but no battery storage, using appliances during the day when electricity is being generated by the sun (with peak generation at around midday), will be most efficient. Using timers on appliances to ensure they run their cycle during the off-peak period can be handy.

Peak demand time for electricity is in the late afternoon/early evening – until about 9pm. Some households can choose when to run the dishwasher or washing machine to better conserve energy, but cooking family meals, and using entertainment systems are usually functions that will fall during peak time. Unfortunately, any utilities and appliances you do use at peak time will attract the most expensive rates from grid electricity retailers.

Properties with solar battery storage at their disposal will have far more versatility when it comes to timing power usage. Assuming you have the right sized battery for your needs, excess energy generated during the day will be stored in the battery, which can then power those appliances and utilities that need to be run during the peak demand time.

*Source: 2021 Residential Energy Baseline Study: Australia and New Zealand prepared by EnergyConsult.

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