To protect the people and places we love from the impacts of global warming we need to make more conscious decisions about our energy use.

Australia ranks among the highest carbon polluting countries in the world, with 22 tonnes of carbon pollution emitted per person in 2015. But reducing our carbon pollution levels is not as hard as it sounds.

More than one-third of our emissions come from our electricity consumption, so we can make huge emissions reductions by increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses. Switching on to a clean energy future is as simple as switching off. Together, through small changes to the way we use energy, we can make a big difference.

Here are some tips to help you reduce energy:

Power plug and cables
Power plug and cables © WWF-Australia

1. Switch off and unplug unused lights and appliances

You could save up to 20% of your current household electricity consumption by simply switching off or unplugging lights and appliances when they're not in use. From big items like rarely used second refrigerators, to chargers left plugged in, lights left on or televisions left on standby – there's a lot of energy wasted every day. Turn off appliances at the wall where possible and when shopping for your next appliance, choose the one with the lowest standby energy use.

Energy efficient light bulbs
Energy efficient light bulbs © WWF-Australia

2. Use energy-efficient light globes

Lighting accounts for an average of 8-15% of household energy use in Australia. By upgrading your lights to energy-efficient globes, like LEDs and fluorescents, you could halve this figure. Some state or local governments offer assistance for new LEDs. Visit this website to learn more.

Efficient energy rating sticker
Efficient energy rating sticker © WWF-Australia

3. Use energy-efficient whitegoods

From your washing machine to your fridge, oven and heater, there's energy to be saved by purchasing energy-efficient models. When choosing whitegoods, look for those with a high energy efficiency star rating, with each additional star representing up to 20% greater efficiency. In the process, you'll not only use less energy, but save money and reduce your carbon emissions. To find out more about energy efficiency ratings and what they mean for you, check out the Australian Government's energy rating website.

Renewable energy windmills in field
Renewable energy windmills in field © Global Warming Images / WWF

4. Switch on to clean renewable energy

Join the renewable energy revolution as the world moves away from polluting sources of energy like coal and gas, to a future powered by 100% clean renewable energy. Switch to an energy retailer that is renewables-friendly and purchase their 'green power' product. Find out how your energy provider and others rate in the Green Electricity Guide.

Roof insulation
Roof insulation © Global Warming Images / WWF

5. Reduce your heating and cooling energy use

A huge 40% of the household energy Australians use is to heat and cool our homes, so that they're comfortable year-round. You can reduce your reliance on appliances to heat and cool your home by:

  • Keeping windows shaded with awnings or blinds
  • Insulating your walls, ceilings and floors
  • Draught-proofing your home by sealing gaps and cracks
  • Adjusting your thermostat to 1 degree Celsius warmer in summer and 1 degree Celsius cooler in winter.

This tweak can save up to 10% on your energy bill. It’s most efficient if you keep the temperature set between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius.

For more tips, check out the Australian Government's Energy Savings website.

Blue solar panels
Blue solar panels © WWF-Australia

6. Join Australia's home-grown solar movement

Is yours already one of the 2 million Australian homes powered by the Sun? Australia is now home to 23.2 million solar panels – that's almost the equivalent of 1 solar panel per person! Going solar saves money on your electricity bills in the long-term, reduces your carbon footprint and helps to facilitate the transition away from polluting sources of energy like coal and gas that cause global warming. And there are many easy and affordable ways to switch to solar power, from leasing and community bulk-buying to $0 upfront options. Not sure where to start? We recommend checking out CHOICE's independent guide to buying solar panels.