Put a freeze on costs to keep warm
With winter just weeks away, Charles L. King & Co First National Real Estate Principal, Gary Wood says there is a lot homeowners and tenants can do to keep energy bills down when chilly weather starts to force them upward. “Just a few simple changes to your home and your habits can make sure you and your family stay warm and cosy without costing the earth,” Mr Wood said. “In winter, the typical Australian household consumes approximately 2700 kWh of energy, which is around 7 per cent more than in the warmer months. With rising costs associated with the Federal budget, we know families will be looking for every saving they can make. “Energy conservation is a vital environmental issue, which is one of the reasons power costs are escalating, and it is better to tackle the necessary changes to lifestyles now than when it is too late. “For every one degree temperature increase in winter, energy use increases by 15 per cent, so it is wise to warm up to the idea of becoming more energy efficient in the home.” Mr Wood said while many environmentally friendly actions should be taken throughout the year, it is during winter we should remain diligent and follow a few additional guidelines.
Turn down - Consider turning down the thermostat on heaters by one or two degrees – homes should be maintained at temperatures between 18 and 21 degrees. Every degree lower can decrease heating costs by up to 10 per cent. When heaters are on, close curtains and blinds to reduce heat escaping and retain it inside. Putting on warmer clothing, like sweaters, can also lessen the reliance on heaters as the main source for warmth.
Turn off - Lighting potentially makes up around 10 per cent of household energy usage. Avoid leaving unnecessary lights on and switch them off when no one is in the room. Outdoor lights should use motion sensors wherever possible. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) use 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last around 10 times longer. Appliances, such as computers and televisions, should be turned off at the wall, if possible. Standby power can account for up to 10 per cent of total power bills.
Seal up - Inspect for air leaks, commonly found in places like door and window frames, ducts, electrical outlets and recessed lights. Air leaks raise energy bills by allowing heat to escape outside. Install draught seals and weather stripping around doors and windows and repair faulty seals – these simple measures will minimise heat loss through gaps and leaks around the home.
Insulate - Insulation helps retain heat during winter. Attics, ceilings, walls, floors and basements are all areas that benefit from insulation. Upgrading all areas of the home to recommended insulation levels can potentially save 5 to 25 per cent on heating and cooling costs.
Be efficient - Look at using or installing energy efficient appliances wherever possible. Use major appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers or dryers at bed-time and other low energy use times of the day, and avoid using them between 4pm and 9pm – this is the optimal time to power down. Mr Wood said cutting back unnecessary energy use is a simple and easy way to keep hard-earned money in the pocket as well as reduce the pressure on the environment. “It’s a win-win situation all round, so everyone should be taking these simple steps to conserve energy, reduce waste and make a better carbon-footprint for the world to see.”