As lockdown and homeschooling continue across a number of states and the pandemic pushes a switch to remote work, it’s understandable many Aussies are concerned about rising energy costs this winter.
Recent research commissioned by Oodie reveals 74 per cent of Aussies are staying home more often than before and 40 per cent are concerned about higher energy costs with 20 per cent spending more than $400 per quarter on electricity.
Household finance expert, Helen Baker says with Aussie staying home more than ever before, energy bills are likely to increase.
“I recommend households find ways to run a low-cost and energy-efficient household, Baker says.
“Fortunately, there are changes that can be made across all areas of the household, along with larger, long-term investments that can amount to significant savings. Not to mention, adopting a more conscious mindset to energy use can ultimately minimise our carbon footprint. Even the smallest tasks, such as sending an email, can contribute to global emissions.”
Helen shares her top tips to slash your energy bills this year.
8 low-cost tips for Australians to save on energy costs this winter
Layer up and use heating wisely
Generally, devices that heat use more energy. Gas and electric heaters, can account for up to 26 per cent of household energy use. Turn your heater off when the room is adequately warm, rather than running it continuously. If using air conditioners for heating, set the temperature no more than eight degrees above the outdoor temperature to avoid risking a much higher energy bill. Another way to save on energy is to rug up with additional layers of warm clothing, such as The Oodie, which features two layers of sherpa and flannel fleece while remaining lightweight.
Be aware of vampire energy consumption
Even when appliances are not in use, they continue to consume electricity. Phone chargers are notorious energy vampires and continue to consume 0.26 watts every hour they are left idle. In instances where a phone is charged and still connected to the charger, it can consume more than 2 watts per hour. Desktop computers can consume more than 20 watts when left in sleep mode. By simply switching off devices at the power point, households can save more than $200 per year.
Limit hot water and hot drying
Hot water heating contributes enormously to our energy usage. Taking shorter showers and limiting baths can help reduce bills. Using a hot water cycle on the washing machine uses 50-85 per cent more energy than cold water. Households could use the cold-water cycle when using the washing machine or dishwasher and only wash clothes or dishes on a full load. Clothes dryers also consume a lot of energy and households could use it sparingly and opt for clothesline drying.
Check existing appliances
It’s important to keep in mind that old appliances consume more energy than newer models and are therefore more costly to use. If upgrading appliances, households could use energy-star ratings to gauge the cost to run them: multiply the number of kilowatt-hours a year (the number on the energy star label) by the electricity rate on a bill. For example, a TV with a seven-star label of 213 kWh a year on a rate of 28.55 cents can cost approximately $61 a year to run, while a three-star label could set households back $148 annually. Beyond energy ratings, households could consider smaller TVs and front-load washing machines – which use less water and shorter wash cycles than top loaders. Upgrading appliances can be costly, and possible to adjust the energy usage of existing home appliances by, for instance, ensuring the refrigerator is 3-4 degrees, and the freezer -15 to -18 degrees.
Shop around for a better deal
Households would be wise to compare energy providers every year. Helen says that each time she receives a bill she challenges that expense and considers whether there is a more affordable option in the market. Comparison sites are a quick and easy way to shop around for a cheaper energy provider and most of these services are free to use. There are also often incentives to take advantage of when moving from one provider to another.
Keep the home well insulated
Homes that are well insulated will maintain a comfortable temperature more readily. Keeping windows shut securely, particularly during colder weather, can help retain heat – up to 40 per cent warmth can escape through windows. Household could also consider opening their blinds or curtains during sunny winter days and closing them before it gets dark, to trap in heat.
Make low-cost changes to heat the home
There are many low-cost investments household could make to heat their home, without increasing their energy bill. For example, door draft stoppers, rugs and runners to keep floors warm, and additional blankets or Oodies for evenings.
Consider investing in solar
A good idea is to research whether solar can reduce energy bills in the long run, or in some cases, if energy can be sold back to the grid. While solar panels are often touted as expensive, long-term investments, recent Government investment in renewables means this is not always the case. Helen advises clients considering switching to solar power to seek out Government incentives that will allow them to install solar panels and have the majority of costs subsidised.
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