Colder temperatures over the winter months means the heater gets cranked up, electric blankets are switched on and the dryer gets a good run. All this combined means that for many Aussie households, winter energy bills can often be the largest of the year.
But this year, there’s a good chance your winter energy bill could be even larger than normal. With most Aussie households spending more time at home, including many of us working remotely and studying online, our winter energy consumption is likely to be even higher than average. And that could result in unpleasant ‘bill shock’ when your winter bill arrives in a few months time.
We don’t have much choice about spending more time at home but more time at home, means more lights turned on and heaters running all day instead of just in the evening. And just as we find ourselves spending more time at home using more energy, many Aussie families are also finding themselves under increased financial pressure and looking for ways to cut back.
So how do you keep the whole family warm and comfortable this winter without blowing the bank? Let’s explore ways to lessen your energy costs this winter.
Household heating and cooling accounts for 40% of energy use in the average Australian household (1). Add to that a nice hot shower or bath and we’re up to 61% of energy use just to keep comfortable and clean.
Finding the most efficient heating system to meet your household needs can be an important step towards reducing your energy expenditure, especially as more time at home means more the heating is likely to be on much more than normal.
Electric heaters may be relatively cheap to buy, but are costly to run. Gas heaters and some reverse cycle air conditioners can use less energy and are usually more environmentally friendly.
If you have a centralised system, be sure to heat only the rooms you are actually using during the day to work, study or relax in.
You can also cut energy costs by making your home more heat efficient; from simple measures such as using draft excluders to installing effective insulation in the walls and roof space.
The South Australian government estimates that the average household can save around $215 per year by switching off their appliances (2) (computers, televisions, washing machines and so on) rather than leaving them on standby. With many of us working and studying at home, we’ll be spending more time on connected devices at home but it is worth taking the time to switch them off when they are no longer in use.
Speaking of switching off, your household lighting alone generates between 8 and 15% of your energy costs (3). So remember to turn off lights when you’re not using them, including any rooms that aren’t occupied.
If you haven’t replaced all of your old halogen light bulbs with LED bulbs, now’s the time to do so. They can be much cheaper to run and last longer.
When buying new appliances, look for ones with a higher energy efficiency rating. This can save you money in the long term. You may also want to consider all of the appliances you already have.
A second fridge or freezer may be useful, but it’s worth asking whether you really need it or if it’s just draining money.
The most immediate way to reduce energy costs is to use less.
Shorter showers, lower temperature machine washes and reducing the heating temperature can help right away. If you live with other people, eating at the same time or using appliances at the same time means that you can share energy use better.
Some energy companies charge more for energy use at particular times depending on your meter type. Check with your energy supplier to find out when their unit costs are highest. Now that you are spending more time at home during weekdays, your current plan may no longer be the most cost-effective option.
For example, electricity is almost always cheaper in non-peak times (4), so if you have a washing machine and dishwasher, it’s best to schedule their use when prices are lower. Want to learn more about when these times might be, feel free to call iSelect on 13 19 20.
We’re pretty fortunate in Australia to be blessed with plenty of sunshine, and capturing the sun’s energy can be one of the most satisfying ways to save money.
The initial investment on a solar energy system may be quite high, but in the long run there are savings to be made. Thermal solar collectors can be used to heat water, and photovoltaic panels can be installed to convert the sun’s rays into electricity.
Of course, both systems usually need backups in the form of battery storage, or additional gas or electrical heaters for darker days. That said, solar power systems could still save you a lot of money in the long run.
Australia is a global leader in renewable energy, with wind energy being widespread too. In fact renewables provide around 20% of the nation’s energy (5).
If the prospect of a switch to green energy looks a little daunting, there’s government information available through the Renewable Energy Agency (6).
Perhaps the quickest way for Australians to save money on energy is to take advantage of the energy market and shop around. Hopefully more time at home also means more time on your hands. So why not put that extra time you used to spend commuting to good use by seeing if you can get a better energy deal?
The options available can vary by location, time of the day the energy is used and tariff type.
Some companies offer discounts when you buy both your gas and electricity from them, or choose a particular payment method.
Shopping around can be confusing but at iSelect, we’ve made it simple. Compare energy plans online from our range of energy providers and plans* today, or call us on 13 19 20 to speak to our friendly team.