This is how much energy you’re wasting – and what it’s costing you

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Energy bills have the ability to shock us more than pretty much any other type of household bill, largely because no one ever uses the exact same amount of power every month or quarter and so each bill is pretty much a shock one by definition. There are some energy plans that offer a bit more certainty over costs – and if your retailer has an app you could track your usage as you go – but for most of us, that next power bill brings the same, inevitable, jaw-dropping feeling. HOW MUCH?

Of course, we all need to use energy around the house, but it’s how efficiently that energy is used that will ultimately dictate how much you owe your retailer at the end of a billing period. No one sets out to intentionally use more power than they need to, but you simply might not realise the ways you are inadvertently wasting it around the house. Being a bit more conscious of your energy usage will help you change your habits – and could save you a small fortune.

That’s why we’ve crunched the numbers on some major household appliances to show you where you could be wasting energy – and what it’s costing you. We’ve come up with some reasonable assumptions relating to wasted energy use (i.e. power you’re using when you don’t really need to). Of course, every household is different, so treat this as a high-level guide only. But it’s certainly worth sharing with that housemate of yours who never turns off the lights, puts the washing on with only two shirts to clean, or leaves the TV playing away to itself when no one is watching it. And don’t even get us started on second fridges….

Annual wasted energy costs

Our data team has put the following cost estimates together to highlight the areas where you could be wasting energy – and money. While air conditioning is the biggest culprit, you could also save heaps by cutting back in other areas.

Appliance Hourly Energy Usage (kW) Wasted Usage Details Annual Cost
Large Wall Air Conditioner 3.5 4 hours/day for 6 months $700
Portable Air Conditioner 1.5 4 hours/day for 6 months $300
400L Fridge (second fridge) 0.068 24 hours/day for a year $163
Dishwasher (warm wash) 2.4 2 cycles per week for a year $69
120cm Flat Screen TV (6 stars) 0.1 4 hours/day for a year $40
Washing Machine (warm wash) 0.9 2 cycles per week for a year $26
5 x LED Downlights (11W) 0.055 4 hours/day for a year $22
Ceiling Fan 0.09 4 hours/day for 6 months $18

Hourly energy usage figures based on Ausgrid’s Appliance Usage Guide. Cost estimate based on electricity usage rate of 27.8c/kWh. Washing machine and dishwasher costs based on per cycle energy usage.

woman operating air conditioner

Air conditioning

OK, we all know air conditioning is crucial at home, especially during the summer months. But could you be using it more efficiently? Do you leave the air con running when you leave the house? Do you keep it on for the cat or dog? Do you leave it on when you’re asleep? If you could reduce your split system air conditioner usage by four hours a day, for six months of the year, that’s a huge saving of around $700. Our calcs are based on an air conditioner that consume 3.5kW in energy an hour, so this cost estimate will naturally vary depending on the model you own, but it gives you an idea of the savings you could make.

Based on the same four hours usage over six months, our team estimated a portable air conditioner to cost you about $300. So, if you’re using portable air conditioner, keep in mind that it really chews through electricity and adds a significant amount to your next power bill. Try not to use it unless you really need to!

  • Pro Tip: Set your air conditioner to as high a temperature as you can comfortably stand – around 24c is perfect for energy efficiency. By all means set the temperature lower, just be aware it’s going to cost you.

man removing beer from fridge

Second fridge

How often do you go around a friend’s house and see them running a second fridge 24/7 with two beers and half a cheesecake in it? It’s a terrible waste of energy and we estimate it to be costing you around $163 a year. And that’s based on a fairly average size 400L fridge. Generally, the bigger they get, the more energy they consume. We get it – having a second fridge helps with drinks and snacks for when your mates come around, but unless they’re going to chip in with your energy bills, give the second fridge a miss.

  • Pro Tip: Clean out all the junk from your main fridge and you might find room for your beers in there. How many old jars or empty bottles of sauce do you have anyway? It’s always good to clean your fridge from time to time anyway.

Open dishwasher

Dishwasher

Most of us will use the dishwasher just once in the evening, but if you’ve had a big breakfast or lunch and the dishwasher is already half full, it’s tempting to put it on for an extra spin earlier in the day to keep the kitchen functioning properly. We get it. But so does your energy company. If you’re in the habit of running two extra dishwasher cycles a week, that’s going to add the best part of $70 to your annual power bill.

  • Pro Tip: If your dishwasher is filling up fast and you’ve still got dinner to come, wash up a few bits by hand. Sure, it’s dirty work, but you’ll save yourself a few bucks in the long run. Plus, it’ll make you appreciate your dishwasher even more!

holding phone in front TV

TV

There’s nothing quite like the TV for wasted energy use. How often do you leave Tracy Grimshaw talking away to herself in the evenings while you’re not even paying attention? There are dodgy tradies running down the street and you wouldn’t even know it! Looking at your phone instead? That’s cool – just turn the TV off if you’re not watching it. Leaving the TV on for about four hours a day is going to add about $40 to your annual energy bill. OK, it’s not a huge amount. But if you’re leaving the TV on when you’re not watching, you’re probably guilty of everything else on this list!

  • Pro Tip: It might seem old fashioned, but try focusing on just one screen or device at a time. You’ll get more out of it, and you’ll save a few bucks.

inside washing machine

Washing machine

If you ever put the washing on just to clean that dress you really want to wear out, or to make sure your lucky underparts are at their freshest for that job interview, this part is for you. You might be surprised to learn that washing clothes comes at a cost, and every time you flick the switch, you are going to pay more. We estimate that households could be wasting about $26 a year by doing the laundry twice a week when they don’t really need to. So, wait until the washing basket is actually full up before you reach for the detergent.

  • Pro Tip: Most washing machines will allow for cold water washing which will help reduce the power used with each load. And check your washer’s settings for more eco-friendly modes.

hand turning off light switch

Lights

Individual lights are not huge energy-guzzlers, especially LED lights. The problem, however, is the accumulative effect of leaving lots of lights on when they’re not being used, a lot of the time. Are you guilty? You probably are and don’t even realise. Based on leaving four lights on for four hours a day, we’ve estimated this to cost around $22 a year in wasted energy. Sure, that’s not a huge saving in itself, but if you’re in the habit of turning lights off when they’re not being used, you’ll probably be more likely to practice good energy-efficiency elsewhere around the home, including appliances that use way more power.

  • Pro Tip: Leaving lights on can leave people feeling a bit hot under the collar, but rather than flicking your friends, try to encourage them positively to improve their energy-efficiency at home. Sharing this guide to wasted energy costs with them would be a good start!

Modern bedroom interior ceiling fan

Ceiling fan

The humble ceiling fan can be a life-saver at home, especially if you don’t have air conditioning in the bedroom! But they’re a bit like lights in that they often go overlooked – do you always turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room, or do you leave it running, thinking ‘I’ll be back in a minute anyway’. And then don’t go back for hours! It’s this kind of sloppy energy usage attitude that we’re addressing here, because guess what – you’re wasting your own money! Based on just one ceiling fan being used unnecessarily for four hours a day, that’ll cost you about $18 a year based on our comparison. And remember, that’s just one ceiling fan. How many do you have running around your home?

  • Pro Tip: Turn the ceiling fan off. Dur!

Simple changes mean big power savings

This really isn’t rocket science. If you want to pay less for energy, and who doesn’t, you can achieve this by changing some simple energy wasting habits around the home. It’s all about being conscious of your power consumption. This means being roughly aware of the costs associated with things like using air conditioning, running a second fridge or using the dishwasher. Once you’re conscious of the costs, you can think more carefully about whether or not you really want to use an appliance at any given time.

Cutting back on air conditioning – even just a little bit – can have a major impact on your electricity costs. Plus, if you can keep the use of other appliances in check like we’ve described above, you’re on the road to cheaper power bills. Then you’ll have to start looking for a better energy plan so you can save even more. Compare plans and prices 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.

Image credits: Greg Brave/Shutterstock.com, New Africa/Shutterstock.com, Andrey Popov/Shutterstock.com, Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock.com, ThomasDeco/Shutterstock.com, Rocksweeper/Shutterstock.com, eggeegg/Shutterstock.com, Jonathan Park/Shutterstock.com

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