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How to use your fans efficiently

Using fans strategically can be a great way to stay cool while also saving energy. Here's a list of ideas for utilizing fans in the home for cooling purpose:

  1. Ceiling fans: Install ceiling fans in commonly used rooms to promote air circulation. Use ceiling fans in conjunction with air conditioning to distribute cool air more efficiently.

  2. Fan timers: Install timers on fans to ensure they are not running unnecessarily when not needed. 

  3. Pedestal fans: Place pedestal fans in larger rooms to provide widespread cooling. Use pedestal fans in bedrooms for personalized cooling during sleep

  4. Outdoor fans: Use outdoor fans or pedestal fans on patios or porches to create a more comfortable outdoor living space. Consider installing misting fans for additional cooling in outdoor areas.

  5. Regular maintenance: Keep fans clean to ensure optimal performance. Dust and dirt on fan blades can reduce efficiency.

  6. Size and location: Use appropriately sized fans for the room to avoid overworking the fan. Placing the right-sized fan in the right location ensures optimal performance and energy efficiency.


Purchasing New Fans

Just like purchasing any appliance, you should always look for energy efficient options when buying new fans. There are many fans on the market now that are designed to provide effective cooling while consuming less energy. Here are some features and considerations that make a fan more energy efficient:

  1. Energy Star RatingLook for fans that have earned the Energy Star certification.
  2. DC Motor: Energy efficient fans often use DC (direct current) motors instead of traditional AC (alternating current) motors. DC motors are more energy-efficient and provide better control over fan speed. 
  3. Variable Speed Drive: Fans with variable speed settings allow you to adjust the airflow according to your needs. This flexibility enables you to use the fan at lower speeds when less cooling is required, saving energy. 
  4. Timers: Fans with built-in timers allow you to set specific time intervals for operation. This feature ensures that the fan operates only when needed, preventing unnecessary energy consumption 
  5. Smart controls: Some energy-efficient fans come equipped with smart technology, allowing you to control them remotely using smartphones or smart home systems. This enables you to monitor and adjust fan settings even when you're away from home. 
  6. Blade design and pitch: The design and pitch of fan blades can impact efficiency. Energy-efficient fans often feature optimized blade designs to move air more effectively, requiring less energy to achieve the desired cooling effect. 
  7. Lighting efficiency: If the fan comes with integrated lighting, choose energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED lights use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. 
  8. Noise levels: Efficient fans are often designed to operate quietly, ensuring that the energy consumed is primarily directed toward cooling rather than generating noise. 

Utilizing shade effectively is crucial in tropical regions like Darwin to stay cool and reduce energy consumption in your home. Here's a list of ways people can use shade around their homes in the Darwin region: 

  1. Outdoor Shade Structures: Install outdoor shade structures such as pergolas, shade sails, or awnings to provide cover for patios, decks, and outdoor living spaces. Use natural materials for shade structures to enhance airflow and minimize heat absorption 

  2. Planting Shade Trees: Plant native, fast-growing trees strategically around the house to provide natural shade. You should also look for water wise trees and shop around at locally owned and operated nurseries. This ensures you are buying native plants that are suited to the Top End. Check out the City of Darwin's Preferred Trees for Darwin list and the Gardens for Wildlife pages for more information on the best trees to plant in this area. 

  3. Pot plants: Use pot plants inside and outside to create shade. Putting plants and indoor trees near windows can also block sunlight, providing shade and reducing indoor heat and glare. Plants can help cool the air through transpiration. They can also be placed strategically on surfaces that reflect a lot of sunlight, like outdoor tiles and patios. 

  4. Vertical greenery: Install trellises or lattices with climbing plants to create shaded walkways or outdoor seating areas. Grow climbing plants or install vertical gardens on these or on walls facing the sun to provide shade and insulation. Greenery can cool the air, enhance air flow and create a more comfortable microclimate.

  5. Shade cloth: Install shade cloth on windows, pergolas, or carports to block direct sunlight while maintaining airflow. Choose shade cloth with varying levels of shade, depending on the specific needs of each area

  6. External blinds: Install external blinds or shutters to block the sun during the hottest parts of the day. Opt for light-coloured materials to reflect rather than absorb sunlight. Get creative!

  7. Indoor window treatments: Use light-coloured curtains or blinds on windows to reflect sunlight and heat. Consider insulated window coverings to reduce heat transfer. 

  8. Create Shade for AC Units: Place shade structures or plants around air conditioning units to reduce their exposure to direct sunlight. This helps the units operate more efficiently. 

  9. Adjustable Shade Solutions: Use adjustable shade solutions like roll-up blinds or retractable awnings to control the amount of shade based on the time of day and weather conditions 

  10. Cooling Landscape Design: Plan landscaping to include natural features such as ponds or water features, which can have a cooling effect on the surrounding area. Use natural materials and plants which will not absorb heat.  

By combining these strategies, you can create a more comfortable living environment while reducing the need to excessive air conditioning. 

COOLmob Tip: If you have areas of concrete or brick walls that are exposed to sunlight, this will increase the ambient heat. You can put that sun and heat to good use by placing pot plants on exposed areas which will reduce heat radiation from these areas.


Window Film

Adhesive plastic sheets known as window films can be easily applied to your windows. These films effectively filter light and heat, replicating the insulation benefits of conventional double-glazed windows but at a significantly lower cost. Window films will reduce how much heat gets in through windows. The film works by providing insulation and UV protection. 

This is a great option for apartments and renters. Films act like double glazing. It is a cheap and quick solution to improve your home's energy efficiency and they can be removed when you're ready to move out.  

Better Renting has installation instructions and a buying guide on their website. Here are the main points: 

  • Low-emissivity (Low-E) films: Low-E films are designed to maintain consistent indoor temperatures by blocking UV rays and heat. These will often need to be installed professionally. 
  • Reflective films: these have a metallic layer that reflects light away from your windows, which makes them very effective at reducing heat and glare. 
  • Ceramic films: are very good at reducing infrared heat while allowing visible light to pass through. 
  • Multi-layered films: some films will incorporate different layers of materials to maximise their insulation and efficiency. 
  • Tint level: window films come in a huge range of aesthetic designs and tints to suit your preferences for appearance and light-blocking.

Window films can be purchased online or at hardware stores (like Bunnings)

Curtains and blinds

Use curtains on windows that are exposed to direct sunlight so that you minimise the amount of sun entering your home. Here are some tips:

  1. Light-colored fabrics: Opt for light-colored curtains to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it, helping to keep the room cooler.

  2. Thermal curtains: Invest in thermal or blackout curtains designed to insulate your windows. These curtains can block out both heat and cold, providing year-round temperature control. Make sure to close these before the sun is able to come in, otherwise you will be trapping the heat inside

  3. Reflective materials: Choose curtains made from reflective materials that bounce sunlight away from the room, preventing it from turning into heat.

  4. Double-layer curtains: Use double-layer curtains with a sheer layer underneath. During the day, you can draw the heavier layer to block out heat while still allowing natural light through the sheer layer.

  5. Close curtains during the hottest hours: Keep curtains closed during the hottest parts of the day to block out direct sunlight and prevent heat buildup in the room.

  6. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation by allowing curtains to be partially open, creating a cross breeze. This can help circulate air and cool the room.

  7. Curtain liners: Consider using curtain liners or thermal liners to enhance insulation, preventing outside temperatures from affecting the indoor environment.

  8. Hanging curtains outside the window frame: Extend the curtain rod beyond the window frame to minimize the amount of heat that enters the room from the sides.

  9. Use of natural fabrics: Opt for breathable and natural fabrics like cotton or linen that allow air to circulate, contributing to a cooler atmosphere.

  10. Adjust throughout the day: Be flexible with curtain adjustments based on the time of day and the external temperature. Open curtains during cooler periods and close them during the warmer parts of the day.

How to use your current system efficiently

Using air conditioners efficiently is crucial for both comfort and energy savings. Here's a list of ways people can use air conditioners efficiently: 

  1. Thermostat settings: Set the thermostat to an optimal temperature range (around 24-26 degrees Celsius) for comfort while minimizing energy consumption. Each degree lower can significantly increase energy usage. 

  2. Use Programmable Thermostats: Invest in programmable thermostats to automatically adjust the temperature based on your schedule. You can set higher temperatures when you're in and out of a room or asleep to save energy.

  3. Maintain Regular Servicing: Schedule regular maintenance for your air conditioner to ensure it operates efficiently. Clean or replace filters as recommended to maintain proper airflow.

  4. Seal Leaks and Insulate: Seal gaps and cracks in doors, windows, and walls to prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from entering. Proper insulation helps maintain a consistent indoor temperature. 

  5. Use Fans in Conjunction: Fans create a wind-chill effect, allowing you to set the thermostat at a slightly higher temperature. 

  6. Close Curtains and Blinds: Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hottest parts of the day to block out sunlight and reduce the load on your air conditioner. Consider using reflective or light-colored window coverings. 

  7. Avoid Overcooling Empty Spaces: Turn off or adjust the temperature when leaving home to avoid cooling empty spaces. Use programmable thermostats to schedule temperature adjustments based on your daily routine. 

  8. Use Zoning: If possible, set up zoning in your home to cool specific areas rather than the entire house. Close vents in unused rooms to redirect cool air to occupied spaces. 

  9. Shade Outdoor Units: Install shade structures or use landscaping to provide shade for the outdoor condenser unit. Cooler outdoor units operate more efficiently. 

  10. Limit Use of Heat-Generating Appliances: Minimize the use of heat-generating appliances like ovens and stoves during the hottest parts of the day. 

New air conditioners and energy efficiency

When buying a new system, you can look for models with good energy performance. Here are some points to consider when shopping for your next system:  

  1. Energy Star Rating:  Look for air conditioners with the Energy Star label. This certification ensures that the unit meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Australian government. 
  2. Inverter Technology: Choose models with inverter technology. Inverter air conditioners adjust the compressor speed according to the cooling or heating demand, leading to more efficient operation and better temperature control. 
  3. Capacity Sizing: Ensure that the capacity of the air conditioner matches the size of the room. An oversized or undersized unit may lead to inefficiency and higher energy consumption. 
  4. Zoning Capabilities: If you are looking for a whole house solution, opt for air conditioners with zoning capabilities. Zoning allows you to control the temperature in different areas of your home independently, optimizing energy usage. 
  5. Variable Fan Speeds: Models with variable fan speeds provide more control over the airflow, allowing you to adjust the settings based on your comfort needs and saving energy in the process 
  6. Smart Thermostats and Controls: Choose air conditioners that are compatible with smart thermostats or come with advanced control systems. Smart thermostats enable you to schedule temperature adjustments, monitor energy usage, and optimize settings remotely. 
  7. Timer and Programming Features: Air conditioners with timer and programming features allow you to schedule cooling or heating cycles, ensuring the system is only in operation when needed. 
  8. Government Rebates and Incentives: Check for available government rebates and incentives for energy-efficient air conditioners. These programs can help offset the initial cost and encourage the adoption of more sustainable cooling solutions. 

Designing or renovating a home in the Top End with a focus on tropical design is essential for creating a comfortable living space while optimizing energy efficiency. Here are some tips for incorporating a tropical design into your next building project:

  1. Orientation and Layout: North or south facing walls offer the best opportunity for shading sun on windows and walls by the use eave overhangs which don’t obstruct breezes

  2. Wide verandas and balconies: Incorporate wide verandas and balconies to provide shaded outdoor spaces. These areas can act as transitional zones between indoor and outdoor living, allowing for airflow and relaxation

  3. Shade strategy: You should make a strategy for shade, as direct sunlight on your walls will increase your household temperature. Shade can be achieved with plants or man-made structures. You could also consider adjustable shading systems to adapt to different sun angles throughout the day

  4. Windows and doors: Install louvered windows and doors to maximize airflow while providing control over ventilation. Louvers allow for the adjustment of the angle to regulate the amount of sunlight and wind entering the house.
    Use “Low E “glass (ie low emissivity) glass, which is a type of insulated glass that increases the energy efficiency of windows by reducing the transfer of heat

  5. Natural ventilation: Design homes with ample windows on opposite sides to encourage natural cross-ventilation. You can try to include high windows or vents to allow hot air to escape, especially in two-story homes.

  6. Cool roofing and fencing: Choose light-colored or reflective roofing materials to minimize heat absorption. A cool roof and fence help reduce indoor temperatures and the overall cooling load on the house.

  7. Cool walls: The colour of your walls will affect the Star Rating of your home. Choose light-coloured paint and/or cladding

  8. Garden: Plant native and shade-providing trees strategically around the house to block sunlight and cool the surrounding area. Use dense vegetation to create microclimates and enhance natural shading

  9. Insulation: Incorporate insulation in the design, especially in the ceiling and walls, to reduce heat transfer and maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature. Proper insulation not only helps keep the interior cooler but also prevents the infiltration of external heat, reducing the reliance on air conditioning and improving overall energy efficiency. You should choose insulation materials that are appropriate for the tropical climate, considering factors such as moisture resistance and resistance to pests

For more information see the COOLmob Design for the Tropics booklet:


Installing solar panels on your roof can be highly effective way to harness the abundant sunlight and reduce energy costs. Here are a list of things to consider:


  1. Solar Site Assessment:  Conduct a thorough solar site assessment to determine the optimal location for solar panels on your property. Consider factors such as roof orientation, tilt, shading, and available sunlight throughout the dayIf you have shaded your house with lots of trees, consider using the roof of your shed or garage. 

  2. Choose High-Efficiency Panels: Invest in high-efficiency solar panels to maximize energy production within the limited roof space. Higher efficiency panels may be more expensive upfront but can yield better long-term returns. +

  3. Consider Battery Storage: Evaluate the potential benefits of adding battery storage to your solar system. Batteries will store energy made during the day for you to use at night (minimising the amount of energy you need to buy from the grid)

  4. Inverter Efficiency: Choose a high-efficiency inverter to convert solar DC power to usable AC power. Inverters play a crucial role in the overall efficiency of the solar system 

  5. Roof Condition and Strength: Ensure that your roof is in good condition and has the structural strength to support solar panel installation. If needed, conduct any necessary roof repairs or reinforcements before installing solar panels. 

  6. Solar System Size: Determine the appropriate size of the solar system based on your energy needs and available roof space. Consider future energy needs, potential efficiency improvements, and changes in household size 

  7. System monitoring: Opt for a solar system with monitoring capabilities to track energy production and system performance. Monitoring allows you to identify and address issues promptly. Monitoring also allows you to decide when to use appliances during your home, so that you can make sure highly intensive appliances are used when the sun is up. 

For more detailed information about solar, check out the COOLmob Guide To Going Solar!

COOLmob Tip: You can't manage what you can't measure. You need to monitor your performance in order to improve it. Understand your household energy use so you can get the most out of your solar panels.


Electricity retailers vs suppliers

The electricity market involves both electricity retailers and electricity suppliers, each playing distinct roles in the complex energy ecosystem. Electricity suppliers generate or source the electricity, often utilizing a mix of power generation methods such as coal, natural gas, renewables, and more. These suppliers feed the produced electricity into the grid.

On the other hand, electricity retailers act as intermediaries between consumers and suppliers, offering various electricity plans and services. An electricity retailer is who sends you a quarterly or monthly invoices. The retailers buy the energy from Power Water, who own and manage the network. 

Residents in the Top End can pick between two electricity retailers: Jacana Energy or Rim Fire Energy. This means you can decide who issues your bills each quarter or month.

An easy place to start with your energy management is to compare the different energy offers. When choosing an electricity retailer, it's essential to compare rates, consider customer reviews for service reliability, check for any additional fees or discounts and look at the available solar feed in tariff. Keep an eye out for any environmental initiatives or renewable energy options if sustainability is a priority. Taking these factors into account will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences and requirements.

Compare electricity rates 

To view the current electricity rates offered by Jacana Energy and Rim Fire Energy visit these sites below:

Jacana Residential pricing and tariffs

Rimfire Energy Product Price Sheet


Electricity bills

Understanding how to read your electricity bill is important for managing your energy consumption, identifying potential cost-saving opportunities, and making informed decisions to promote energy efficiency in your home.

Your bill is made up of the amount of energy you consume, multiplied by the price per unit. The price per unit can vary according to the time of day you use your electricity and the kind of contract you’re on.

Your electricity tariff has 2 parts:

  1. a daily supply charge (sometimes called a service charge or fixed charge): This daily supply charge is the cost of getting electricity or gas to your residence (even if you don’t use any) and appears on your bill as a total amount, or in cents per day
  2. a usage charge (a consumption or variable charge): The usage charge is the cost of the electricity or gas you use and appears on your bills in cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) for electricity. Some bills might show more than one usage charge, for example the Time of Use tariffs offered by both Jacana and Rim Fire. This is split into peak and off-peak charges and there are different rates for when the energy is consumed.  

To help you understand how to read your bill, Jacana Energy have a helpful guide on their website



Choosing appliances with a high Energy Star Rating will reduce your energy use over the long term.

The Energy Rating Label is a government initiative allows you to compare the energy efficiency and running costs of appliances before you buy – to reduce your electricity bill. Visit their website for more information on: 

  • How to read an Energy Star Rating Label
  • What does energy consumption mean?
  • A product guide through all the different appliances (fridges, dishwashers etc)
  • & so, so much more!! 

And another thing? Don’t buy any appliances which you don’t really need. Think if you can borrow a friend or neighbours before investing! 

How you live in your home makes a huge difference to the power bill each quarter. Even if you had an amazingly sustainable design and only 5 Star Rated appliances, if you have ‘energy hungry behaviours’ your power bill won’t be as low as it could. 

Small and FREE wins can be made in any home by adjusting your behaviour. These include:

  • turning off the lights when you leave the room
  • having only one fridge in the house
  • ensuring the fridges have good seals
  • turning off electrical appliances at the wall
  • using the cold water setting on your washing machine
  • waiting for a full load before turning on the dishwasher
  • using a fan before an air-conditioner
  • setting your air-conditioner to 24 – 26 degrees
  • making sure all doors and windows are closed when using air-conditioning
  • setting your pool pump timer so it runs between 6pm and 6am 

What is stand-by power?

Stand-by power is the power used by your appliances even when they have been switched off using a remote control, or are switched off at the appliance alone (and not at the wall). This means that you are still paying for things that should be turned OFF.

Measurements done by COOLmob on stand-by power used by individual appliances in the average household have shown that power is still consumed unless completely switched off. Possible savings of between $50 - $150 per year are possible from switching off appliances at the power point.

How do you know if you are using stand-by power?

You can calculate the amount of power you waste on stand-by power easily. 

  1. Turn off everything else that uses power in your home (such as the lights, air conditioners, fans, fridges, hot water heaters, pool pumps etc);
  2. Leave on items that have stand by mode (such as TVs, microwaves, stereos, chargers, entertainment systems etc);
  3. Measure how much power is being used when these larger items are turned off. You can do this by counting the number of times that the wheel in the electricity metre takes to go around.

You can also hire a Power Mate Lite from any of the Darwin City Council libraries to measure how much stand by power is costing you each year.

What items are costing YOU money when left in stand-by?

Item Watts Energy cost/year kg CO2e/year
Computer hard drive 4 $5.40 28
Computer speakers 3 $4.00 21
Computer monitor 3 $4.00 21
Printer 5 $6.80 35
Scanner 3 $4.00 20
Split system air conditioner 15 $20.40 99
Microwave 3 $4.00 21
Television 4 $5.40 28
Stereo 5 $6.80 35
VCR 5 $6.80 35
DVD player 6 $8.15 42
Cable TV controller 14 $19 96
Mobile phone charger 1 $1.35 7

You would be surprised to learn what products use stand-by power, and the only way to be sure that “OFF MEANS OFF” is to turn appliances off at:

  1. The power point;
  2. A switched power board or eco-switch (which you can purchase from COOLmob); or
  3. The switchboard.

Consider that…

A little bit of stand-by power, multiplied by a lot of appliances in your home, multiplied by the number of times people are not using their appliances, multiplied by all of the households in the world leaving stand-by power on…results only in the a huge waste of money and the needless emissions of greenhouse gases!

The changing global climate and rising price of electricity means that our hard earned dollars are too precious to waste on equipment that we think we have switched off.

The two most common types of hot water systems for households are solar hot water systems and electric hot water systems. The main difference between these are that one uses electricity from renewable energy sources, and therefore heats your water for free using sunlight, and the other uses electricity from the grid.

Hot water heating from electric systems makes up a major portion of your electricity bill, so when choosing a hot water system for you home always consider the ongoing and ever-increasing costs of electricity consumption. 

COOLmob recommend you take a look at the Australian Energy Foundation Guides on different hot water systems, as they compare the most efficient systems and have recently published The Complete Guide To Choosing Your Perfect Heat Pump Hot Water System

Solar Hot Water Systems

Using the sun to heat your hot water is free. In order to heat water using solar energy, a collector, often fastened to a part of the roof facing the sun, heats water that is either pumped (an active system) or driven by natural convection (passive system) through it.

Solar hot water has many benefits:

  • Investment that pays for itself in as little as 5 years
  • Adds value to your property
  • Saves your money on power bills 
  • Saves greenhouse gas emissions

At the end of the day, why pay for hot water when you can get it for free?

And if you already have solar hot water, see the tips below to make sure your using yours efficiently:

  • Regularly clean panels so they are not dirty
  • Ensure they are not shaded at any time of the year
  • Check that the booster is switched off at the power board, unless there is a long period of no sunlight (e.g. in the wet season)

COOLmob tip: when installing the solar hot water unit on your roof position it so as to allow installation of solar PV panels at a later date.

Electric Hot Water Systems

Electric hot water systems use electricity from the grid to heat the water you use for cooking, cleaning and showering. Electric hot water systems can be very expensive as they require a large amount of energy to maintain water temperatures. However there are still some things you can do to ensure that it is running efficiently.

  • Check to see if your hot water tank is loosing a lot of heat by feeling the sides of it. If it is hot (above room temperature) then it could do with some extra insulation. Insulation can be as simple as wrapping the tank in a blanket to keep heat in
  • Try turning the thermostat down to 60°C (it is usually set at 70°C) as this should be enough hot water needed for showering. You can also save more on your hot water system if you use boiled water from the kettle for washing dishes.
  • If going away for a period of time you can turn your hot water system off at the power board to ensure water isn’t heated unnecessarily when no one is home. Do this if you are going away for a week or more.
  • If you have mixer taps (i.e. one tap for both hot and cold flows) ensure that it is always in the ‘cold’ position and not in the middle. Only put it towards the ‘hot’ position when hot water is needed (and you aren’t able to use boiled water from the kettle)
  • Wash your clothes in cold water wash cycles instead of hot water, and only wash when you have a full load.

COOLmob often audit homes that are over-lit and have energy intensive lighting types. For some families lighting makes up a significant amount of quarterly energy bills. The good news though is that switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy bills. If you have halogen or compact fluorescent lights in your home, switching over to LEDs is a simple way to reduce your energy costs. 

LED lighting

Light emitting diodes, known as LEDs are very energy-efficient light bulbs. Because they’re able to convert 60% of electricity into light, compared to only 5-10% for compact fluorescents, these lights use much less energy. Compared to halogen bulbs, LEDs use 75% less energy and last 5 to 10 times longer. Have a look at this graph from Energy Rating comparing the lifetime cost of LEDs, CFLs and halogens (Australian Energy Foundation, 2020).

If your existing fitting is a GU10 (and not a pin fitting as in the second image) then you do not need an electrician to remove the transformer and replace the lamp holder and fitting. You can simply put the CFL globe straight in and start cutting your power bills immediately! If you are unsure, take one globe out and take it to a lighting shop to ask what the correct fitting is. The lighting shop will be able to tell you what type of replacement globes to buy.

There are also lots of alternatives online so make sure you shop around for the best result.

Down Lighting

There are an array of lighting types on the market. A common down light is the tungsten halogen, which is also a very energy intensive light and therefore expensive to run. Remember: A low voltage lamp does not mean it uses less power. If you want to use less power you need a lamp with a lower wattage light. 

Easy savings from lighting

  • Turn the lights OFF every time you leave the room. It is a common myth that it takes more energy to turn on a light than you save by turning it off when not needed
  • Don’t over-light areas
  • If you have more than one light on a switch (as is common when using halogen down lighting), consider removing some of the globes to reduce the amount of power used per switch
  • Optimise natural lighting where possible. Make sure rooms are well lit with the curtains open to let the light in

Longer term savings

  • Install movement sensors to outside lighting
  • Install a skylight to high use areas such as the kitchen, living room, bathroom or laundry
  • Re-wire lights that are on the same switch so only the lights that are needed come on (for example separate the lights in the kitchen so only sections come on at once)
  • Have an electrician remove the transformer and replace pin fittings and lamp holders with GU10 fittings that are compatible with more energy efficient lighting types

Many of the COOLmob households audited in Darwin have a swimming pool. At the time of these audits the majority of pools were set to operate their pumps for 8 hours a day. This equates to electricity costs between $3,500 and $5,500 over a 5 year period, and creates between 12 and 19 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the same period. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities and ways to cut costs on your pool pumping. There are savings opportunities for both ‘salt’ and ‘chlorine’ pools, though each may require different changes.

Money saving tips

Reduce pump operating times

The first and easiest solution to the high electricity costs involved in pool pumping is to reduce the operating times of your pump. Reductions of 2 hours for ‘salt’ pools and 3-4 hours for ‘chlorine’ pools can be achieved, however these changes can vary between pools because of:

  • pump size and characteristics
  • filter type
  • water quality management
  • pool environment and usage.

Savings of about $900 and $1,600 over 5 years are achievable for a 1kW motor for the ‘salt’ and ‘chlorine’ pools respectively. This equates to greenhouse gas emission reductions of 3 and 5 tonnes in the same period.

When reducing times make sure the water quality is checked periodically.

Use a pool cover

The next savings option to use a pool cover. A pool cover will not only prevent water evaporation, but it will protect the pool when it is not in use, meaning you won’t need to pump as much!

The fitting of a pool cover for approximately 3 months of the year will achieve significant savings of nearly $700 over 5 years, and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by a further 2 tonnes of CO2 (based on the operation of a 1kW pump motor).

In addition to the electricity savings in reduced pumping costs as a result of a pool cover, one COOLmob household found that they didn’t require the 9,000 litres of ‘top up’ water while the pool was covered during the dry season.

Use an energy efficient pool pump system

There are energy efficient pool pumps and controllers now on the market. These have been developed to use automated variable speed drive technology to achieve significant power savings on pumping. There are two main forms:

  • a variable speed pump motor that replaces any existing pool pump and is available in 2 sizes for large or standard pools; or
  • a controller that is installed by a simple plug-in action into an existing pool pump

Both items achieve savings of 65-70% operating power costs and greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard pool pumps, and are much quieter to run. Claims are also made regarding increased effectiveness of filtering and longer pump life because of the lower operating speeds. Pumps may need to be run for a little longer than your present pump settings in order to turn over the same amount of water, due to the slightly slower flow rates. The savings have been verified by COOLmob and the reduction in noise level is an added bonus.

The automatic speed controller can be fitted to any size pool pump.

Depending on where you live in the NT, your electricity may come from the burning of natural gas, the burning of diesel or solar generation.

Solar electricity from solar panels on your rooftop generates zero climate pollution so is therefore the most sustainable energy source.


Electricity is generated from natural gas at the Channel Island power station (310MW) and Weddell Power Station (129MW).

Alice Springs

Electricity is generated by the Uterne Solar Power Station (4.1MW), from natural gas at the Ron Goodwin Power Station (45MW) and from natural gas and diesel at the Owen Springs Power Station (36MW).

Tennant Creek

Electricity is generated from a mix of natural gas and diesel at the Tennant Creek Power Station (17MW).

Remote Communities

Electricity is generated by a mix of diesel and solar PV, depending where you live.

For more information, see Territory Generation