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Nearly 1 in 5 Aussies say they can’t get solar – how to claw back power costs this winter

Reviewed by Head of Energy, Meredith O'Brien
4 min read
29 Jun 2023
australian couple without solar comparing energy bills

While experts are encouraging households to beat soaring electricity costs by utilising solar power, new research from Compare the Market has revealed that nearly a fifth of Aussies can’t get solar at their property.

New findings from Compare the Market show that 18.4% of respondents can’t install solar where they live, while a further 15.4% want solar but say they can’t afford installation costs. *

Compare the Market’s Head of Energy, Meredith O’Brien, said that while solar is one way of lowering electricity bills, it’s not the only method.

“While solar can certainly help households lower their electricity bills, those who don’t have access to it may be able to save in other ways,” Ms O’Brien said. “Tracking and understanding your electricity usage is important and it’s easy to adjust your habits once you know what’s guzzling your electricity.

“Rather than waiting for your next bill, which could be up to three months away, you may be able to track your electricity usage more regularly through smart meters, in-home displays or web portals and adjust your habits accordingly,” Ms O’Brien said. “Talk to your retailer about the best options for you. If your landlord holds your electricity retailer account, it’s best to start a conversation directly with them about your options.”

Meanwhile, with the cooler months here again, heating will undoubtedly be one of the leading contributors to higher bills. You may be able to reduce heating bills in winter by as much as a quarter by draught-proofing your home.

“Ideally, you should also resist the urge to turn the heating up too high, as every degree warmer you set the temperature can add 10% to your electricity consumption,” Ms O’Brien explained. “The optimal temperature is between 18°C and 20°C.

“If you have ducted air conditioning or heating, you may also be able to adjust your home’s temperature remotely with a smart thermostat. If you forget to turn off your heater, smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature without being home.”

The type of heater you have can also influence how high your bill may end up. Recent findings from Compare the Market revealed that in some parts of the country, a cheaper portable fan heater could cost you hundreds more to run over winter than small reverse-cycle split systems.

It’s also a good idea to be wiser about your electricity usage. For example, consider ditching the clothes dryer on those sunny winter days and hanging your washing out on the line. And, if you’re in the market for a new dryer on cooler or rainy days, consider one with a higher energy rating.

“While clothes dryers with lower energy star ratings are likely to have a lower upfront cost, they typically do cost more to run, which could add up significantly over the life of the appliance,” Ms O’Brien said. “And when it comes to washing your clothes, a cold cycle will usually save you more money as these settings typically don’t use as much energy to heat the water.

“You may also be able to save by simply switching off unused appliances and devices at the wall. It may seem harmless, but this ‘phantom power’ can chew through as much as 10 per cent of your property’s electricity.”

Intelligent power point adaptors can also help manage this electricity that devices and unused appliances are draining by blocking the power supply when they go into standby mode. And, if you’re on a time-of-use plan, avoid using those power-guzzling devices during peak hours outlined by your retailer.

“If you’re on these plans, it’s typically going to be more affordable to run appliances like dishwashers and washing machines during off-peak times like overnight or on the weekends,” Ms O’Brien said.

Ms O’Brien’s top tips for saving electricity without solar

1.       Invest in smart appliances, which allow you to remotely adjust appliances to improve energy efficiency. You may be able to increase a fridge’s temperature on colder days, control lighting and modify temperatures for air conditioning and heating. You can program your smart appliances to only work during off-peak times.

2.       Set the heater to between 18°C and 20°C in winter. Each degree warmer you set it can add as much as 10% to your electricity usage.

3.       Switch appliances you’re not using off at the wall. Standby power can be responsible for more than 10% of your home’s electricity usage.

4.       Be smart about how you use appliances. Use natural light when you can, hang your washed clothes instead of using the dryer and avoid using heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.

*Survey of 1,003 Australians, conducted in March 2023.

For more information, please contact:  

Phillip Portman | 0437 384 471 | [email protected]

Compare the Market is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy and travel products from a range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool helps you look for a range of products that may suit your needs and benefit your back pocket.

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Written by Phillip Portman

When he’s not busy writing, Phillip can usually be found at the movies, playing with his Italian Greyhound Wilma, hanging out with his cockatiel Tiki, or talking about everything pop culture. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Journalism and has previously written about health, entertainment, and lifestyle for various publications. Phillip loves to help others and hopes that people learn something new from his articles.

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