Shrink your power bill without freezing
When I was a poor student, my flat was very keen on low power bills,
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 powerswitch.org.nz 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.