With restrictions and lockdowns occurring across Australia, the majority of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’ve compiled a list of short, medium and long-term strategies to help you cut energy costs whilst working from home and beyond.
Use heating mindfully and rug up
Heating appliances use a lot of energy – around 26% of the average household consumption. Spending cold winter days sitting in the house is a recipe for higher heater use, but there are a few ways to cut your energy costs. Ensure you are adequately dressed, turn off the heater when the room is warm enough, keep doors and windows closed and set the temperature a few degrees lower.
Check old appliances and choose new ones carefully
Older appliances are notoriously worse on energy consumption; in some cases, they are double the cost to run compared to newer models. You can calculate the energy costs based on watts to determine whether it’s worth replacing your old appliances with new ones. If you are in the market for new appliances, choose products that use the lowest number of watts, and avoid buying the biggest models or being sucked in by electricity hogging features you may never use.
Invest in solar
Solar is the ultimate way to save money on power; you can potentially cut your energy costs and reduce your power bills to zero. In addition, solar energy costs half the amount of coal to produce, so it’s cheaper and better for the environment. Depending on the size of your house and energy needs, you can expect to pay somewhere between $4,000 and $10,000 for a solar set-up, an investment you should see returns on within two to three years. There are also significant rebates on solar storing batteries available in Victoria and South Australia, so you can store any power you don’t use.
Shop around for a better energy deal
Don’t be afraid to shop around for a better deal when it comes to your energy provider to help you cut energy costs. Comparison sites are easy and fast to use, so you can quickly find out if you’re getting the best deal. Use can also use an energy cost calculator to determine whether your power bills are on par with the national average for your household size.
Remember: energy providers will also routinely offer deals and bonuses to entice new customers, which can amount to some substantial savings.
Close your doors and windows
Keeping doors and windows closed and shutting off rooms where heating or cooling is in use will allow you to get the most out of your appliances for the smallest output. In addition, taking advantage of blinds and curtains will help to keep heat in during the colder months, and sun out when the weather heats up. It may also be wise to check your doors and windows to ensure they are the most efficient option. Gaps below doors can be simply remedied with a door snake, however, windows can be a more expensive problem to solve. If you have the means to replace your windows, double glazed options are the most thermally efficient. For a cheaper option, blinds and shutters are a great, energy-saving alternative.
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Beware of peak energy use times
Depending on your energy provider, contract and state, it may be cheaper to run appliances out of peak times – usually from 10 pm to 7 am. Setting timers and turning on appliances during this time is a simple and effective way to cut energy costs. For example, put dishwashers and washing machines on before bed and set pool pumps on timers to go to work during the night.
Avoid vampire consumption
Vampire energy consumption is less scary than it sounds, but it can still lead to unwanted energy and money wastage. Vampire consumption refers to when appliances continue to use energy even when they aren’t in use. You can potentially save $200 a year by switching off appliances at the power point when not in use. Phone charges are particularly problematic, using 2 watts an hour if a fully charged phone remains connected to it.
Change your globes
If you are wasting a lot of power through lighting, energy-saving globes are an excellent way to cut your energy cost. Older globes use roughly 60 watts an hour, where LED’s use six. Although they are slightly more expensive, LED globes last a lot longer than regular globes, with the average life span being 50,000 hours.
Cold water is king
Hot water systems and other appliances with heating elements use a lot of power. If you’re really committed to cutting down on your energy costs and consumption, shorter showers are a great energy-saving solution. You should choose the coldest setting on your washing machine as often as possible, which will also help your clothes last longer. Surprisingly, if you have an energy-efficient dishwasher, it may be more energy-efficient hand washing.
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Simply use less
The easiest way to cut energy costs is to simply use less power. Turn off lights when you leave the room, don’t leave the television idyl in the background (Netflix menu anyone?), and air dry your clothes as often as the weather permits. Remember to power down and unplug appliances when travelling. If you’re travelling for long periods, use the opportunity to clean out your fridge and freezer and turn it off, as they can chew up a lot of power. When your fridge is in use, make sure it is running effectively and not set colder than need be. The ideal fridge temperature is 4-5°C, and the perfect freezer temperature is -15 to -18°C.
Words by Nell Matzen