11 ways to cut your summer power bill

Ah summer, the season for barbecues, beaches, cricket and… stupidly high power bills. Whether you’re blasting the air con or hosting the extended family over Christmas, it can be difficult to keep on top of your electricity usage. So, to help you get through this summer with your bank account intact, here are a few simple tricks that can save you hundreds of dollars.

  1. Reduce your air conditioner usage
  2. Avoid using the clothes dryer
  3. Sell that second fridge
  4. Compare electricity providers
  5. Limit washing machine use
  6. Cut back on using the oven
  7. Use live energy usage monitoring
  8. Minimise electricity usage during peak times
  9. Clean your air conditioner
  10. Insulate your home
  11. Try natural ways to keep cool

1. Reduce your air conditioner usage

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It can be tempting to try and beat the summer heat by blasting the air conditioner, but keep in mind that this can quickly rack up the energy bill. Canstar Blue estimates that a typical split-system air conditioner can cost between 29.8 and 44.3 cents per hour, but prices will vary depending on the efficiency of the model, the climate zone, the running temperature, the electricity usage rate and the size of the area being cooled. As the table below indicates, reducing your air conditioner usage by a few hours per day could save you big on each quarterly bill.

Air con running costs over summer

City and Climate Zone Average Usage Rate (c/kWh) Average Hourly Cost (cents) Total Summer Cost
Brisbane (hot) 21.1 29.8 $83.14
Darwin (hot) 26.653* 37.6 $104.90
Sydney (average) 23.8 33.6 $43.75
Adelaide (average) 31.4 44.3 $57.68
Perth (average) 29.3273* 41.4 $53.90
Melbourne (cold) 21.8 30.8 $22.92
Hobart (cold) 21.6 30.5 $22.69
Canberra (cold) 23.8 33.6 $25.00

Average usage rates based on single rate tariff plans available for an annual usage of 4,200 kWh on Canstar Blue’s database, excluding solar only plans. Costs based on the average input power of reverse cycle, non-ducted, single split system air conditioners with a cooling capacity at 35°C of 4-6kW listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database (1,411 Watts). Percentage of days air conditioner in use based on the number of days in December, January and February 2020 where the maximum temperature exceeded 30°C. *Darwin and Perth usage rates based on the legislated rate. ^Climate zones based on the Zoned Energy Rating Label for air conditioner models imported or supplied after 1 April 2020. Air con usage for hot climate zones used 4hrs/day for 75% of days, average climate zones for 4hrs/day for 35% of days and cold climate zones for 4hrs/day for 20% of days. Accurate as of 22 October 2021.

Similarly, the temperature that you run your air conditioner can have a big impact on your energy bills. In fact, cooling and heating accounts for around 40 per cent of household power use, according to YourHome, which is why it’s best to keep the thermostat between 25 and 27 degrees over summer.

2. Avoid using the clothes dryer

Avoid the clothes dryer

Summer is storm season for much of Australia, which means you might rely on your clothes dryer a lot more in summer than other times of the year. While clothes dryers are convenient, they aren’t exactly cheap to run. As you’ll see below, the costs can vary over summer between $10 and $150, depending on your location and how many loads of washing you dry each week.

Clothes dryer running costs over summer

Loads per Week Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide
1 $11.52 $10.55 $10.21 $15.20
3 $34.57 $31.66 $30.64 $45.60
5 $57.61 $52.77 $51.07 $76.01
7 $80.65 $73.88 $71.50 $106.41
10 $115.22 $105.54 $102.15 $152.01

Total Cost based on the average usage of condenser dryers listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database, and average usage rates based on single rate tariff plans available for an annual usage of 4,200 kWh on Canstar Blue’s database, excluding solar only plans. Average usage rates are Sydney – 23.8 c/kWh, Melbourne – 21.8 c/kWh, Brisbane – 21.1 c/kWh and Adelaide – 31.4 c/kWh. Accurate as of 22 October 2021.

As you can see, reducing your clothes dryer usage by just a few loads per week can have a noticeable impact on your power bill this summer. So, if it’s sunny, be sure to make the most of it by hanging your clothes out. If it’s rainy, then consider if it’s worth investing in a small clothes drying rack to put under the patio.

3. Sell that second fridge

Fridges are one of the largest single contributors to household electricity bills – after all, they are on all the time. If you’re one of the many Aussie households that own more than one fridge, then you should consider whether it is really necessary, or at the very least, whether the second fridge needs to remain on constantly. It might even save you money in the long term to sell both fridges and upgrade to a single larger fridge.

Fridge running costs over summer

Fridge Capacity Average Summer Electricity Usage (kWh) Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide
200-300L 84.7 $20.16 $18.46 $17.87 $26.60
300-400L 88.1 $20.97 $19.21 $18.59 $27.66
400-500L 97.9 $23.30 $21.34 $20.66 $30.74
500-600L 113.7 $27.06 $24.79 $23.99 $35.70
600-700L 130.0 $30.94 $28.34 $27.43 $40.82

Total Cost based on the average usage of refrigerator/freezer models listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database, and average usage rates based on single rate tariff plans available for an annual usage of 4,200 kWh on Canstar Blue’s database, excluding solar only plans. Average usage rates are Sydney – 23.8 c/kWh, Melbourne – 21.8 c/kWh, Brisbane – 21.1 c/kWh and Adelaide – 31.4 c/kWh. Accurate as of 22 October 2021.

As you can see, an additional fridge can cost you over $40 this summer, potentially more if your fridge is old or iced up. The energy efficiency star rating can also make a huge difference.

4. Compare electricity providers

Even if you follow all the tips in this list, you’ll still be paying too much if you’re getting a bad electricity deal. Unfortunately, if you haven’t compared electricity companies in the past 12 months, chances are that you’re paying too much for power. We understand that you would rather be on the beach soaking in those summer rays than comparing electricity plans, so Canstar Blue has made comparing providers quick and easy. See how much you could save with our price comparison tool or check out some of the cheapest deals in your state below.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

5. Limit washing machine use

Using the washing machine will be hard to avoid, especially during the warmer months where everyone starts to sweat a whole lot more. But dirty clothes aside, using a washing machine can cost around $5 to more than $22, depending on where you live and how many loads are washed each week.

Washing machine running costs over summer

City Average Usage Rate (c/kWh) Cost per Load (cents) 2 Loads per Week 4 Loads per Week 6 Loads per Week
Brisbane 21.1 19.1 $4.97 $9.93 $14.90
Darwin 26.653* 24.2 $6.29 $12.58 $18.88
Sydney 23.8 21.6 $5.62 $11.23 $16.85
Adelaide 31.4 28.5 $7.41 $14.82 $22.23
Perth 29.3273* 26.6 $6.92 $13.83 $20.75
Melbourne 21.8 19.8 $5.15 $10.30 $15.44
Hobart 21.6 19.6 $5.10 $10.19 $15.29
Canberra 23.8 21.6 $5.62 $11.23 $16.85

Average usage rates based on single rate tariff plans available for an annual usage of 4,200 kWh on Canstar Blue’s database, excluding solar only plans. Total Cost based on the average usage of front-loading washing machines with a 5-10kg capacity listed in the Commonwealth of Australia E3 Program’s Registration database (907 watts/load). *Darwin and Perth usage rates based on the legislated rate. Accurate as of 22 October 2021.

As you can see, there’s a stark difference in price for household’s using a washing machine just twice a week compared to up to six times a week, over the summer period. That’s why it’s a good idea to only use the washing machine when there’s a full load of clothes ready to be cleaned, otherwise you could end up spending a lot more than you need to.

6. Cut back on using the oven

Avoid using appliances

An oven is practically a room heater. Even if you don’t notice it immediately, the heat from an oven – especially older models – can spread through the kitchen and living areas, making an already hot day unbearable. For this reason, you should minimise your oven use through the day.

Not only will minimising oven usage keep your home cool, it will also help reduce your power bill this summer. As you can see below, there’s a sizable difference in summer running costs between cities and how long you use an oven each week.

Electric oven running costs over summer

City Average Usage Rate (c/kWh) Cost per Hour (cents) 5hrs/week 10hrs/week 15hrs/week
Brisbane 21.1 44.3 $28.80 $57.59 $86.39
Darwin 26.653* 56 $36.40 $72.80 $109.20
Sydney 23.8 50 $32.50 $65 $97.50
Adelaide 31.4 65.9 $42.84 $85.67 $128.51
Perth 29.3273* 61.6 $40.04 $80.08 $120.12
Melbourne 21.8 45.8 $29.77 $59.54 $89.31
Hobart 21.6 45.4 $29.51 $59.02 $88.53
Canberra 23.8 50 $32.50 $65 $97.50

Average usage rates based on single rate tariff plans available for an annual usage of 4,200 kWh on Canstar Blue’s database, excluding solar only plans. Total Cost based on an input power of 2,100W per the Ausgrid Appliance Usage Guide. *Darwin and Perth usage rates based on the legislated rate. Accurate as of 22 October 2021.

Other appliances left on standby can also produce small amounts of heat and contribute to your power bill. By unplugging TVs, computers, microwaves and any other appliances that don’t need to be left on, you can save $20 to $25 this summer. Although that’s relatively modest, you might agree that it’s better in your pocket than your energy company’s.

7. Use live energy usage monitoring

live usage monitoring

Live electricity usage monitoring helps you take control of your energy usage by providing real-time access to your home’s electricity usage. Electricity monitors cost in the vicinity of $15 to $500 and provide insights into when you’re using electricity and even how much power certain appliances are sucking up. You can use this information to adjust your usage habits and potentially save hundreds this summer. Of course, the amount you save with electricity monitoring depends on how diligently you use the information.

8. Minimise electricity usage during peak times

Minimise usage during peak times

Many Australians, particularly in Victoria and NSW, are on what’s called a ‘time of use tariff’. Customers on this tariff are charged low electricity usage rates during ‘off-peak’ times, and high rates during ‘peak’ times when electricity is in high demand – generally from the mid-afternoon into the evening. If you’re on this tariff, then it is important that you minimise electricity usage during peak times. Use appliance timers to shift some of your electricity usage to later in the evening and consider turning off the air con.

Customers in Victoria and NSW might also be on a ‘demand tariff’. If you’re on a demand tariff, you are charged a ‘demand charge’ that reflects your peak usage within a 30 minute period during peak times. Again, if you’re on this tariff, it is important to minimise your electricity usage in peak hours.

9. Clean your air conditioner

A dirty air conditioner filter can increase the system’s running costs by up to 15 per cent. If your air conditioner has been collecting dust over the spring months, then you should clean out the grime and dust caught in the filter before you switching it on this summer. Take a look at our guide on how to clean your air conditioner.

10. Insulate your home

Home insulation is a cost-effective way to keep your home cool in summer. It also drastically improves the efficiency of air conditioners by trapping the cold air inside. While insulation can be a little pricey upfront, particularly if the work requires a professional, in the long term you should see considerable savings on your power bill.

11. Try natural ways to keep cool

natural ways of keeping cool

The sun shining on glass windows can turn your home into an oven. Shade window exteriors with awnings or pergolas outside and blinds inside, especially if the window faces north or west. If you have the budget for it, consider double-glazing your windows to reduce heat flow in and out of your home.

You should keep windows, blinds and curtains closed through the hottest part of the day, but open them up to catch some of the evening breeze when it cools down. Alternatively, you can check out our list of ways to stay cool in summer without using electricity.

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