Money: great tips to slash your power bill

Don’t let your util­i­ties break the bank, with these sim­ple ideas from Pam Walk­ley.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents -

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.

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