Shrink your power bill with­out freez­ing

When I was a poor stu­dent, my flat was very keen on low power bills,

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER - writes Sarah Moore.

Un­for­tu­nately our idea of sav­ing power dur­ing win­ter meant wear­ing five pairs of socks and hud­dling to­gether like pen­guins. Sure, our bills were cheap, but deal­ing with a mid­win­ter at risk of hy­pother­mia state can def­i­nitely put a damp­ener on things.

Win­ter is com­ing, and while it might be tempt­ing to turn up the heater to high, snug­gle into bed with your elec­tric blan­ket, and crank the dryer ev­ery time you do the wash­ing, your power bill won’t thank you for it.

‘‘Lit­tle changes can of­ten add up to big en­ergy sav­ings,’’ Con­tact En­ergy’s community re­la­tions ad­viser Rosanne Jol­lands says.

‘‘Ex­plore the tools and apps that your en­ergy com­pany has to of­fer to help you un­der­stand your power us­age, mon­i­tor it and man­age it.’’

Here’s a few ex­tra tips to keep your en­ergy bill low this win­ter:

1. If you’re not us­ing an ap­pli­ance, switch it off at the wall.

2. Turn your elec­tric blan­ket on an hour be­fore you go to bed then off when you jump in. Bet­ter yet, set a timer on it to turn on and off pe­ri­od­i­cally through­out the night.

3. Fan heaters might warm a room up quickly, but they’re also power guz­zlers. Con­sider swap­ping the fan for an oil col­umn and only use a heater when you’re in that room.

4. In­stall a heat pump. En­er­gy­ef­fi­cient and dou­bling as an air con­di­tioner in the heat of sum­mer, a heat pump cir­cu­lates warm air through­out your en­tire house in­stead of just a few square me­tres.

5. Wood­burn­ers can help you save power – as­sum­ing you have a ready sup­ply of fire­wood. Al­ways book a chimney sweep be­fore you light your first flame; last win­ter’s char­coal is a ma­jor fire haz­ard. In­stall a fire guard if you have chil­dren in the house and check with your coun­cil to make sure your burner or open fire is OK for use un­der lo­cal by­laws.

6. Tighten door hinges, use draught-stop­ping tape around win­dows and doors, and use door snakes to pre­vent cool breezes from mak­ing their way into your home.

7. Be wa­ter-wise. Your hot wa­ter cylin­der uses more power than any­thing else in your house. Keep your show­ers short and use a cold cy­cle for wash­ing. Ad­just the ther­mo­stat so the hot wa­ter is at 55 de­grees Cel­sisus, and fix any drip­ping taps. Switch your hot wa­ter off if you are go­ing away for more than two weeks.

8. Re­place old in­can­des­cent light bulbs with en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ones.

9. In­su­la­tion is an es­sen­tial in­vest­ment for home­own­ers and some­thing renters should also dis­cuss with land­lords. Check out the gov­ern­ment’s Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes Pro­gramme; you might qual­ify for free in­su­la­tion. You can in­su­late your hot wa­ter cylin­der and pipes as well as walls.

10. Go to pow­er­ and see what en­ergy com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing the best prices. Pay your bill on time to get early-pay­ment dis­counts and con­sider a pay­ment plan that lets you smooth your bill pay­ments out evenly across the year.

In­su­la­tion will keep you warm and help min­imise en­ergy bills.

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