We’re halfway through winter in Australia, and as the temperature teeters between cool and cold, we tend to just leave the heat on high. After all, we gotta keep warm.
But while we’re hiding from the chills however, our winter bills are also getting cranked up. We’re looking at a spending increase of 20% on average.
Another concern is the introduction of peak rates during the season. From June 1st to August 31st, Ausgrid, which provides over 1.6 million Sydneysiders with power, are upping their rates from 5-9pm every day.
So while we nest in our homes, working, gymming, cooking, snoozing, here are a few simple ways to avoid those charges.
Heat What You Need
Where are you spending most of your time? Get into the habit of only turning the heat up in those rooms and shut doors of rooms that tend to be cooler (bathrooms and laundry rooms).
If you’re buying new heaters, look for the most efficient one. And try to keep the average temperature on the thermostat in your home to between 19-21 degrees. Anything north of that will be an increase of about 10% of your energy bill per degree.
Nix the Long Hot Showers
We all love a long, steamy shower when we’re under it, but dread the frosty minute that inevitably ensues! Heating water is one of the biggest contributors to your electricity bill so keep those cleanses quick and effective. You’ll also avoid drying out your skin.
The general aim is four minutes max, so consider investing in a towel warmer you can switch on before you step in.
Keeping your bathroom door shut also traps the heat in so if you don’t turn on the fan, you can bask in it for longer! Additionally, there are a ton of shower heads out there that can help reduce water consumption. They’re usually cheap and easy to install.
In the same way we sometimes stick our heads in fridges to cool down in the summer, we also love the flurry of heat that comes out of the oven in winter. Go a step further and keep the oven door open so the heat can circulate the area. Simple act, big gains.
Set Up Your Heater
While you become more mindful of turning off appliances when you’re not using them, think about programming your heater. Set it to turn on a half hour before you rise and a half hour after you’re in bed. And while you sleep, heated electric blankets make for the warmest comforters. On average, they only cost around $12 to heat you through the winter.
Look For Open Holes & Cracks
Heat can be lost through unsuspecting cracks and holes and especially windows, the latter of which can let in ten times more cold air than walls can. Make sure your windows are properly insulated.
Check the seals for any cracks or draughts. You can consider installing a timber strip across your curtain rail. Look into even fixing an additional glazing on your windows to trap the heat in and keep the coldness out. Extra benefit: reducing outside noise (link to article).
To muffle any chilly air coming in from under doors, you can employ the use of a door snake. Save up to 25% on your heating bills this way.
Similar to losing heat through our heads, our roofs can also allow heat leaks. Call a professional to determine if yours is in the best possible condition.
Dress in Layers
Another certified way to avoid feeling the cold is to pile on the clothing. Sounds simple, but keeping certain body parts warm like your head and feet will keep your blood circulating and the electricity down. Thin layers are best to keep yourself insulated. Warmth trump style in this one!
Know What You’re Paying For
If you’re paying more than usual, have a more serious look at your bill and Google your service provider to see if they offer more in-depth guides on assessing them.
You might also check out other providers to compare prices. While you’re doing that, also find out about off-peak tariffs.
Depending on your meter, your water heaters can be adjusted to work during off-peak hours, which means they can heat up water during those periods and store it for use at a later time.
Since energy companies are trying to lower our usage by the introduction of day tariffs, turn on your dishwasher at the end of the night or early in the morning. You could also set it to a cold water setting along with your washing machine to use less energy.
Use Solar Energy
Drying machines use a ton of electricity. So while it’s cool and crisp, hang your clothes outside instead to take full advantage of nature’s solar power.
Alternatively, you could also consider investing in solar panels. While a more expensive system, you can eventually save 50-90% on heating charges. They’re a low maintenance kind of support and might even add value to your home. Be sure to check if you can get a rebate on it too. Eventually, if you produce enough electricity, you could even sell unused excess electricity in the form of solar credits. Talk about a win-win.
Buy, Build & Renovate in an Energy Efficient Way
There are quite a few things to weigh up when you’re moving into a new home and especially if you’re doing major building or renovation work. A lot of factors can contribute to creating a more energy-efficient home that is both more affordable in the long run and better for the environment.
Speak to experts to find out how you can better insulate your space. Savings up to 20% are possible for instance by installing insulation in your ceiling, walls and floors.
A quick, simple and affordable option is to get more rugs and carpets to keep your floors and feet warm. See if there’s an option to install blinds or heavier curtains to keep the draught from coming in through your windows. It’s best to have the latter hang all the way to the floor for maximum benefit.
If the bills are still causing you strife, find out if you’re eligible for a low-income or pensioners rebate. Remember to do your homework and check that your appliances are energy efficient. A little tip that works throughout the year is to unplug all your appliances and gadgets on standby.
This contributes to about 3% of the power use in your home. Winter can be a grey time for everyone, but hopefully with these tips, you can spend more on things that brighten your day. Keep warm and stay safe!