Feel like your energy bills are stacking up even higher than last year? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Across Australia, the average cost of an electricity bill is projected to rise by almost 3% between 2012 to 2014. Obviously there are drastic changes you can make to your home to reduce your energy bill, such as replacing old appliances with new, energy efficient models and installing solar panels or a solar hot water system. However, if you’re renting or you’re a budget, never fear! There are a few things you can do to help bring down your energy bill that thankfully won’t break the bank.
It’s Getting Hot In Here!
Let’s start with the big stuff – heating and cooling. Heating and cooling account for approximately 40% of your home’s energy expenditure. Unfortunately, unless you turn it off (which will likely result in you sweltering through summer and shivering through winter!) your heating/cooling system will be your primary energy expense. However, you can easily change your behaviour towards heating and cooling and save yourself a bundle in the process.
- Understand your air-conditioning. Despite popular belief, a reverse cycle refrigerated air-conditioner puts out the same temperature of air regardless of setting, around 13°C. The setting you choose will determine how long your air-conditioner runs to get the room down to the set temperature. For example, if you set the air-conditioner to 22°C, the air-conditioner will run until the ambient temperature in the room measures at 22°C; the recommended setting for comfortable ambient room temperature is between 24°C and 26°C. It may be counterintuitive but turning your air-conditioning to run at a slightly higher temperature, particularly on hot days, will reduce the load on your air-conditioner and reduce your energy consumption.
- Shut up shop. Don’t heat or cool any unnecessary rooms – for example, you probably don’t need your laundry room to be toasty during winter or your en-suite chilled during summer. Close doors and windows and block off any draughts, hot or cold. During the summer months, close the blinds and curtains to keep the sun out. On hot days, cool your house early in the morning when the temperature outside is lower; this will put less load on your air-conditioning unit and use less energy to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature during the day.
- Dress for the occasion. Before cranking up the thermostat, make sure you’re wearing temperature-appropriate clothing. Grab a jumper and a pair of snuggly boots to keep you warm on cool winter nights, or change into a short-sleeved shirt and shorts before you blast the air-con on a warm day.
Heating water is the second largest source of home energy usage, at almost 25%!
- Take shorter showers. This will also help reduce your water bill, so it’s a win-win!
- Turn the thermostat down on your storage hot water system. The lower the temperature, the less energy it will take to maintain the set temperature.
- Turn off your storage hot water system when you won’t be home for an extended period of time, such as for a weekend away or a holiday. Storage hot water systems cycle on and off to keep stored water hot. By turning the system off, you save heating the water unnecessarily.
- Turn appliances off at the power point. Remember that standby mode still uses power!
- Wash your clothes in cold water.
- Air dry your clothes. Electric clothes dryers use excessive amounts of energy. Sun and wind dry your clothes free of charge!
- Drink less tea. Your electric tea kettle is enormously inefficient. It takes huge amounts of energy to bring water to the boil, so only boil the water that you need, instead of filling the kettle up to its maximum each time.
- Ditch the drinks fridge. It’s great having a second fridge for parties but usually, one fridge is big enough for day-to-day usage. Those little bar fridges are costly to run – especially if they’re only keeping half a six pack cold.
- Brighten up your outside. Prune bushes and trees away from windows to let in natural light. Open up your blinds or curtains instead of flicking on the light switch.
- Lights out! Turn the lights out when you leave a room, and don’t leave fans or lights running in the rooms you aren’t using. Put external lights on a sensor or a timer so that they switch off automatically instead of running all night.
- Change lights to low energy usage options. This can range from replacing the globes to installing the latest energy efficient fittings.
These helpful tips can certainly help you reduce your energy consumption. However, if you’re unhappy with the rate you’re being charged by your current energy provider, remember that you can always shop around for a better deal. Happy saving!