How to save money on your energy bill
Written by Trudie McConnochie for Real Insurance
Energy bills have been projected to increase, and could take a larger bite out of household costs than they used to, which means finding ways to cut power consumption has never been more important. Here we share some simple power-saving hacks.
Turn off vampire appliances
It’s one of the easiest things you can do to save power – and it has a surprisingly large impact. Turning off appliances, such as TVs, dishwashers and phone chargers at the power point when they’re not in use can save around 10% from your energy bill.
Be time savvy
Do you really need to run your dishwasher at night? And could that load of washing wait until the morning? The most expensive time of day to use appliances can be in the evenings, according to Australian Power and Gas (APG) peak times to use electricity are generally between 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, so delaying appliance use until the morning could help you bring costs down (check exact off-peak times with your energy provider).
Appliances could account for around 25% of your power usage, so being smart about how you use them can save you money.
Delay running the washing machine and dishwasher until you’ve got a full load. Avoid hot washes in your washing machine – doing only cold washes could save you between $40 and $80 a year. Skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher, which sucks up a lot of power – instead open the door at the end of the cycle so your dishes can air-dry.
Aim to dry your clothes outside, since clothes dryers are known to be energy hungry. If you have to use your dryer, empty the lint filter before every load, to keep it running efficiently.
Ovens chew up a lot of energy – if used often, an electric oven could add up to $3.72 to your power bill per day depending on the time it has been used for, so preheat only when you absolutely have to, and avoid opening the oven door, which can drop the temperature by as much as 20°C every time.
Graeme Ambrose from energy auditing company EcoDecisions says a benchtop convection oven is a cheaper way to cook smaller meals, such as pizzas.
“They use half the energy of a normal oven and will cook in half the time,” he says.
Switch to energy-efficient appliances
If you can afford it, energy-efficient appliances are a great investment. Energy rating labels can tell you how efficient the appliance is compared to similar models, with six being the most efficient, and one star being poor.
The label will also tell you how much electricity (measured in kWh) per year the appliance will use up, which is a good way to compare large and small models that have the same star rating.
If you do replace your fridge, don’t be tempted to keep your old, inefficient one as a ‘beer fridge’ or ‘back-up for parties’, warns Graeme.
“A domestic fridge will lose approximately 3% of its refrigerant every year (refrigerant is required to absorb and remove heat when a fridge door is opened). So if you've got a 20-year-old fridge that could be costing you between $800 and $2,000 a year to run.”
Insulate your home
Insulation for your home to keep heat inside during winter (and outside in summer) can be costly upfront, but will pay off over time. If that’s out of reach for now, there are simple ways to help insulate your home, including weather stripping – using draught-proofing strips and seals around doors, skirting boards, ceilings and air vents.
“Weather stripping is just as important as insulation, and is a very cheap option,” says Graeme. “If you’ve got gaps where you’ve got cold air coming in, or hot air coming in, then it’s going to cost you more in heating and cooling to control that.
“With doors, you can see where sunlight is coming in, but with windows it’s often a bit harder to see. On a windy day, light a stick of incense and move it around the window frames and watch what happens to the smoke. That way, you can tell whether you’ve got draughts coming in.”
Understand your power bill
The only part of a power bill most of us look at is the amount we owe, followed by the due date. But Graeme says studying other details can make us more power-saving savvy.
“Have a look at what your average usage is per day and compare it,” he says. “On the bill it says what a one-person house, two-person house, etcetera, uses on average. If you’re above average, work out what you’re using that’s causing the excess energy use.”
Your bill will also give you all the information you need to compare deals between energy retailers, which is well worth your time, as many power companies will offer good deals to lure in new customers. Take note of the rate per kWh, fixed supply charges and discounts.
You can also compare deals by visiting energymadeeasy.gov.au if you are in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania or the ACT. If you’re in Victoria, head to compare.energy.vic.gov.au and those switching retailers in Western Australia and the Northern Territory can check the energy section of their government’s website.
7 Mar 2023