Money: great tips to slash your power bill
Don’t let your utilities break the bank, with these simple ideas from Pam Walkley.
In the past 10 years our electricity prices have more than doubled. Australian households are paying 60 per cent more for their power than their US counterparts. And gas prices have shot up 175 per cent since 2000. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are steps you can take to slash your power bills. Here are five of the best ones:
1 An energy-efficient home
A benefit of building a new home is its energy efficiency, providing big savings on running costs. But there are things you can do to reduce energy wastage in older homes. Insulating your ceiling will reduce heat entering when it’s hot and trap warmth when it’s cold. Draught-proof your home by sealing doors and windows to make them airtight. Use blinds and curtains to keep out the cold and outside shades to control how much sun enters your home when it’s hot. Use heating and cooling sparingly; aim for “just comfortable”. Consider installing solar panels to harness the sun to reduce energy bills.
2 Be appliance savvy
Buy appliances with a good energy rating; the more stars the better. Concentrate on the big power guzzlers. Frontloading washing machines may cost more but will generally save you money because they use less power than top loaders and also use less water and detergent. When it comes to a fridge, look for a model that uses a hydrocarbon, such as butane or pentane, as the refrigerant and/or blowing agent for the insulation foam, consumer group Choice says.
Keep clothes dryers for emergencies.
3 Develop energy-aware habits
A few simple changes can save money. Unplug appliances not in use to prevent them using energy in stand-by mode. Close off rooms – such as bedrooms – you don’t need to heat or cool during the day. With airconditioners, don’t wait till your home is boiling or freezing to start them as then they use lots of power to achieve a comfortable temperature. Use energy efficient lighting and turn off lights in rooms you aren’t using. Don’t boil a full kettle for one cup of tea.
4 Shop around for a better deal
Many energy suppliers will give you discounts of around 20 per cent and more if you pay by direct debit and on time. You can use a comparison site, such as energywatch. com.au, comparethemarket.com.au or the federal government’s energymadeeasy.gov.au to compare electricity and gas prices in your state. To do this effectively you’ll need to know how much energy you use and what you pay for it. Make sure the site you use covers lots of suppliers. Traps to watch are long contracts and termination fees.
5 Ask for a better deal
When my one-year contract with my electricity supplier was up, I contacted them and asked for a better deal, pointing to those I’d seen advertised. Without hesitation the company offered to increase my discount from 20 per cent to 27 per cent as long as I continued to pay on time by direct debit. There was no fixed-term contact, but the offer only lasted for 12 months and then I’d have to renegotiate. Needless to say, I snapped it up. AWW
Consider installing solar panels to harness the sun to reduce energy bills.