Sustainable living

Active transport

A bicycle is the most efficient form of transport, with no fuel consumption and no emissions. More households around Australia are replacing their second (or only) car with bikes. Council is enhancing sustainable transport option in Lake Macquarie with an expanding network of off-road shared pathways providing opportunities for more active forms of transport in our City.

Appliances

Electrical appliances account for about 30 per cent of energy use in the home. Energy rating labels will help you save energy and water. Visit energyrating.gov.au to compare appliances.

Assess your home

Lake Mac Libraries also have Save Power Kits available to borrow. The kits includes useful tools and information to help you better understand and measure how you use power in your home. The kit includes an infrared thermometer, Power-Mate Lite, a compass, stopwatch, Save Power thermometer and a user guide.

Buying guides

Find tips on buying energy saving products, such as solar panels, solar hot water, batteries and LED lights, with Choice buying guides.

Community solar

Community financed solar projects are about the local community coming together to create a fairer, more reliable and affordable energy system.

Council has partnered with Pingala, a community finance provider, to develop a community-financed solar project for our community.

The program is an opportunity for community investors to become part of the clean, green energy revolution and support local organisations.

For more information, visit pingala.org.au, phone 4921 0333 or email us.

GreenPower

The GreenPower program is a government-managed scheme that enables Australian households and businesses to displace their electricity usage with certified renewable energy, which is added to the grid on their behalf. This choice means that there is less carbon pollution represented by your bill and the money goes towards further developing the renewable energy supply in Australia. Visit greenpower.gov.au for more information.

Heating and cooling

  • Insulating your home saves you money on your power bill and makes your home more comfortable. It also helps the environment by reducing the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home, and reducing the amount of carbon pollution that is released into the atmosphere. A well-insulated home is up to 10°C warmer in winter and 7°C cooler in summer.
  • Close doors to separate air-conditioned areas from other areas of your home to minimise the area you are air-conditioning.
  • Heat living areas to less than 21°C and bedroom areas to less than 18°C.
  • Turn off air-conditioning overnight and when you are out during the day.
  • Use smaller appliances, such as portable heaters or fans, where possible.

Home harvests

Hot water systems

Buying a solar or heat pump water heater will save you money and be less harmful to the environment.

Lighting

  • Turn off lights when you leave the room
  • Upgrade light globes with LED lights
  • Use programmable timers, daylight sensors or motion sensors to control outdoor and security lights
  • Regularly clean light fittings, reflectors and lampshades
  • Use the lowest wattage globes to adequately light the area you require
  • Maximise natural light through windows and skylights
  • Consider lifetime cost and choose a light bulb that will cost you the least in the long-run

Plants and landscaping

  • Create wildlife-friendly habitat to attract local wildlife by joining Council's Backyard Habitat for Wildlife program. Members receive two free native plants, an information pack and planting guide, discounts at participating nurseries, a gate sign, EcoAdvocate enewsletter subscription and invitations to free workshops.
  • Join Land for Wildlife to find out more about wildlife management on your property.
  • Keep your backyard habitat friendly for our local critters and creatures by using organic pest control solutions.

Pools

Swimming pool pumps are one of the most energy hungry appliances in the home, accounting for up to 30 per cent of total energy consumption. It is estimated that almost a quarter of Lake Macquarie's households have a swimming pool, making them a prime target for energy and cost savings.

Other than optimising your pool pumps' running hours, the best way to reduce your pool's energy consumption is upgrading to an efficient pump. By using an energy-efficient pool pump, you can reduce your pump energy use by up to 60 per cent and save up to $320 a year in your electricity bills. Ausgrid's swimming pool efficiency guide has more tips to improve the energy efficiency of your pool.

Save water by purchasing a pool cover. A cover can reduce evaporation and help cut down on water 'top ups'. Without a cover, more than half the water in your pool can evaporate over a year.

Reducing your energy consumption has a positive impact on the environment, but so does responsible disposal of equipment that is no longer needed. Pool pumps are considered ewaste and can be disposed of as part of your next bulk waste collection or at the Awaba Community Recycling Centre.

Public transport

Get on board with your local public transport options. Discover the most convenient public transport options for your journey by calling Transport NSW on 131 500 or visiting transportnsw.info.

Rebates

The NSW and Federal Governments offer financial incentives and rebates to reduce household energy consumption.

Recycle

Reduce food waste

The way food is produced, packaged and disposed of has massive impacts on the environment. NSW households send an average of 800,000 tonnes of food a year to landfill, which is equivalent to throwing away $10 billion of food. Reducing our food waste by only buying what we need, eating leftovers and reducing the amount of over-packaged products we purchase can all help the environment. The Love Food Hate Waste website has great tips on how to buy, cook and save food more efficiently, making smarter, more sustainable food choices.

Rethink and reduce waste

  • Look for products with high environmental standards with no chemicals, minimal packaging or recycled components
  • Swap single-use plastic items for reusable, including bottles, coffee cups, bags and utensils
  • Purchase products made from renewable or recycled materials
  • Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging created and save money at the same time
  • Buy your fruit and vegetables loose instead of prepackaged in plastic
  • Making your own cleaning produces will produce less waste and reduce the need for artificial chemicals that can be harmful to your family and the environment

Reuse waste

Host a garage sale. You can register for Council's Super Street Sale program is three or more households in your street host a garage sale together. We'll help up by promoting your event in local newspapers and providing resources to help make your event a success.

Get creative with what you can't sell by revamping or repairing clothing and furnishings. Find inspiration, resources and information at the Upcycle Newcastle website.

Solar panels

Over a million Australian households have solar panels installed. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are usually mounted on your roof and convert energy from sunlight into direct current (DC) energy. The system comes with an inverter that changes the DC energy into alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be used in the home to power appliances. A grid-connected system can feed excess energy into the electricity network (grid), while a standalone system needs a battery to store excess energy. Visit the Clean Energy Council website for tips on buying solar.

Vehicles

Hybrids and electric cars are now viable alternatives to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. If you need to buy a car, check the Green Vehicle Guide to compare the local air pollution and greenhouse emissions of different vehicles on the market.

For more information on current electric car options, as well as a charging station map, visit electricvehiclecouncil.com.au.

Water

The average home in the Lower Hunter uses about 173,000 litres of water a year. Making small changes to your water usage can result in big savings.

  • Check and repair leaking taps and pipes to reduce water bills and waste. Repairing just one leaking tap can save 2,000 litres a month.
  • Take shorter showers and turn off the tap while cleaning your teeth or shaving.
  • Install a low flow water saving showerhead - it uses half the water of standard showerheads.
  • Aerated taps are cheap to buy and will reduce water flow by 50 per cent. 
  • Greywater is the wastewater from your hand basin, shower, bath, spa bath or laundry. With water becoming scarcer, the installation of a greywater system can help you become self-sufficent with your water supply. You can use greywater on your garden.
  • Rainwater tanks are great at helping to save water and reducing stormwater runoff. It is important that rainwater tanks are low-maintenance not 'no-maintenance' systems. They should be checked regularly to ensure high water quality, efficiency and the longevity of your rainwater tank. In Lake Macquarie, most rainwater tanks do not need approval; however, there are limits on size and placement.
  • Up to 60 per cent of household water is used outdoors, with lawns consuming 90 per cent. Mulch in garden beds prevents evaporation and reduces runoff.
  • Plant drought-tolerant Australian native plants, which require less water and attract native wildlife.
  • Water your garden early in the morning or in the late afternoon, as more evaporation takes place in the middle of the day.
  • Water your plants for longer less often to encourage deep root growth.
  • Wash your car on the lawn and use a bucket - it saves water and waters the lawn at the same time.
  • Find more water saving tips at hunterwater.com.au.