How to avoid a scorcher of a power bill


When summer hits in Australia, it hits hard. Nary is a region safe from the perils of the sun – except for those lucky souls in Tasmania, but even they are not immune from the odd day or two of scorching temperatures.

Summer electricity bills have an alarming tendency to skyrocket, as everyone reaches for the air conditioning remote for round-the-clock-comfort. Add to that the dozens of electrical appliances, entertainment consoles, power tools and gadgets we all use, you’re on the right track to receiving a hefty electricity bill. Our hunger for electricity is always increasing, and so too, it seems, our power bills.

How can I reduce my power bill?

The power bill is a massive strain on the household budget for many of us, so we want to cut costs where we can. If the thought of your next electricity bill makes you shudder, here a few helpful hints on how you can slash your electricity costs.

Cooling and Heating:

Blasting the air con 24/7 can add a lot to the cost of your electricity bill, so it makes sense to hone in on this aspect of our usage.

  • Closing doors to unused rooms will reduce the area you need to cool or heat.
  • Keeping curtains and outside window shades closed will also help maintain a consistent temperature inside.
  • Cleaning and servicing your air conditioner keeps it running at optimum efficiency.
  • Turn off the air con when you’re not home, or at least have it on a timer so it’s not running continuously.
  • Also making sure your air conditioner is installed properly can do wonders for your power bill.

Switch appliances off at the wall:

TVs, DVD players, computers, stereos and game consoles still use energy in standby mode –it’s called ghost power, and it can hit your bank balance hard. When not in use, switch these appliances off at the wall.

Look at your lighting:

Change your old light globes to compact fluorescent ones which use a lot less energy. Other energy-efficient lights can include LED lights and halogen lights. Compared to their old-school incandescent cousin, they can deliver considerable energy savings every year. Use lamps or spotlights instead of main lights. Having lights on different circuits means you can turn lighting on and off, as needed.

Check your fridge and freezer:

Fridges are the third most energy-sucking appliances in the household (behind dryers and air conditioners of course). Energy Australia recommends setting your fridge temperature to 4-5 degrees and your freezer temperature between -15 and -18 degrees Celsius. Keeping fridges and freezers in a cool, well-ventilated spot away from the oven and the sun will save electricity, as will ensuring the seals don’t leak and the appliances are working in top condition and under optimal conditions.

If you’re struggling to see savings elsewhere, the laundry is the best place you can go to immediately cut energy use.

Hot water in the bathroom:

The way hot water is used in the bathroom is another area where you can potentially save power.  Set the hot water temperature to 50 degrees Celsius. Installing water-saving showerheads will reduce the amount of hot water and energy used. It is estimated that by installing water saving shower heads, you could save up to 18 litres of water a minute. If you’re paying for water, this is a significant saving, as well as saving the energy used to heat all that water up!

Take a look at the other appliances in your bathroom. Appliances such as hairdryers, straighteners, electric toothbrushes and even a radio are small energy users, but can add up over the quatre period.  By switching them off at the wall when not in use, you could potentially save a respectable amount.

Consider insulation and solar power:

Some “problem” rooms of your home may benefit from added insulation. Alternatively, consider going solar in a minor or major way, according to your goals and budget. One in five Australian households now uses solar energy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This can only increase, as advances are made in this technology and consequently prices come down, shortening the time it takes for solar to pay for itself.

Now you’ve installed widgets and energy-efficient appliances, it’s time to look at your own habits:

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Use appliances efficiently:

Simply being more mindful about your appliance use can deliver power savings. For instance, thaw food in the fridge first to reduce cooking time; close the fridge door – don’t leave it open for long periods. Microwaves use less energy than ovens. When using an oven, avoid continuously opening the door. Use the dishwasher on economy cycle for everyday washing and only run the dishwasher when it is full. This helps save water too.

Laundry tips:

It’s summer! Make use of that hot Australian sun and avoid using the dryer where possible. This will help preserve your clothes, and if hot enough, the sun could potentially dry quicker than a dryer. A dryer is the most energy-sucking appliance in the house, so make use of the sun and hang your clothes out.

For those who cannot hang their washing out in the sun to dry, make it a rule to spin the clothes thoroughly before putting them in the dryer.

As with dishwashers, if you want to save energy, only run the washing machine on full load and using the cold water setting. The cold water setting works well for most washing applications apart from very dirty or soiled clothing. A cold wash can also prevent your clothes getting crinkled too!

The clothes you wear:

The clothing choices you make in summertime can make a big difference to whether you crank the aircon or not when you get home. Choose light, cotton or linen clothes. Avoid polyesters that trap in heat, and choose gym gear that wicks sweat so you can feel light and not gross. Clothing is a minor adjustment but can mean the difference between using the aircon all night, and enjoying the breeze that wafts through your home.

What if I’m a renter or apartment dweller?

These tips are designed to be easy for both renters and homeowners. Though, for renters, for any installations check with your management group or landlord first. It’s no point saving money on electricity if your bond dries up at the end of the lease!

Whatever situation you are in, there are things you can do to keep your electricity bill in check without losing your cool.

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