10 Smart Ways to Save on Your Electricity Bills
With power costs on their way up, there’s never been a better time to find ways to reduce those dreaded quarterly electricity bills.
At a time when the cost of living is climbing, power bills are leading the way. In fact, the average Australian household spends more than $2500 per year on energy bills.
Reducing the amount of energy you use is worthwhile in several ways. It can not only save you money but is also beneficial to the environment in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Every household is different, of course, but there are plenty of ways to save money on power bills. We’ve got some handy tips for saving money on quarterly electricity bills, but first let’s analyse what is on your energy bills and what is costing you the most.
What’s on Your Electricity Bill?
Electricity providers bill you in two ways – through fixed charges and variable charges.
The fixed charge is a flat daily fee for your electricity connection. You’ll find it identified separately on your electricity bill as a “daily supply” or “service to property” charge.
The variable charge is the amount you pay for each unit of electricity you use. You might find it referred to on your bill as the “consumption” or “usage” charge. Some electricity bills may show more than one variable charge (e.g. a time-of-use plan might have separate charges for different time periods, usually called peak, shoulder and off-peak).
Where Does the Money Go?
The biggest expense for most households in Australia is heating and cooling. It accounts for more than 40% of your power usage and it’s the key to saving money on electricity bills.
So, where does the money go? On average in Australian households, electricity costs are divided up as follows:
- Heating and cooling – 44%
- Water heating – 20%
- Kitchen and laundry – 18%
- Lighting – 10%
- Entertainment – 8%
With those figures in mind, let’s examine 10 ways to save money on energy bills.
1. Adjust the AC Thermostat
If you set the temperature on your air conditioner just right, it can make a huge difference to your electricity bill.
When in cooling mode, set your air conditioner to about 24°C. For heating mode, set your air conditioner for 18°C to 20°C. This will ensure maximum energy efficiency from your unit.
These figures do vary, depending on the climate you live in, so it’s best to check the recommended AC heating and cooling temperatures for your area. But keep in mind that every degree higher or lower than the recommended temperature will consume between 5% and 10% more energy.
2. Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
If you’re still using old-fashioned halogen light bulbs, it’s time to make the switch to LED (light emitting diodes) globes.
There’s no argument when it comes to the most efficient light globes to use these days. LED globes use up to 75% less energy than halogen and CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) globes and last up to 20 times longer.
LED globes have a lifespan of up to 25,000 hours, which is about 15-20 years. Theoretically, you could raise your children from infancy to adulthood without having to change a light globe.
3. Wash Clothes in Cold Water
When using a washing machine, it is estimated that heating the water uses 90% of the consumed energy. So, you can make significant savings by washing your clothes in cold water.
Make sure to check the labels on your clothes. You will often find that a cold wash is recommended because it’s gentler and helps maintain colour. Pre-soak heavily soiled clothes and you can avoid the need for washing in hot water.
4. Keep Doors and Windows Closed
This is a simple way to help your air conditioner work more efficiently. When you’re heating a specific room, make sure you always keep doors shut so that your system doesn’t have to work hard to heat or cool the desired area.
With that in mind, close off any unused rooms which you don’t need to heat or cool.
5. Use High-Energy Appliances at Night
Energy providers discount the price of electricity at night, which is known as off-peak. This is generally between 9pm and 7am, so that’s a 10-hour window to take advantage of.
Most providers drop their electrical energy prices by more than 50% at night, so there are significant savings to be made. When it comes to using your washing machine, dishwasher and dryer, try waiting until after 9pm. Your water heater can be set to heat only during the night and you can do the same with how your pool filter/cleaner operates.
This applies to you if you have a time-of-use tariff, rather than a single-rate tariff (which means you pay the same no matter what time you use electricity). Check with your energy supplier on what their peak and off-peak hours are.
6. Have You Considered Solar Energy?
This is a long-term solution that will be expensive up front but will eventually provide enormous benefits.
While installing solar panels on the roof is costly, you’ll reap significant savings when the energy bills arrive. This remains true even if your solar system is boosted by electricity during times of less sunshine.
Your lighting and heating costs will be covered and you can even receive government rebates by feeding electricity back into the main power grid. The savings you can make on your electricity bill with solar energy can be in the thousands of dollars, meaning your system will quickly pay for itself.
If you’re considering switching to solar power, talk to an experienced electrician about the costs of installing solar panels.
7. Energy Savers in the Kitchen
The most expensive kitchen appliance to run, in terms of power consumption, is your fridge. Make sure you adjust the temperature so that it’s running at its optimal level.
This means setting the fridge thermostat from 0°C to 4°C, while the freezer should be set from –15°C to –18°C. Plan ahead and defrost food by shifting frozen food to the fridge, rather than defrosting it in the microwave. Also, cook more food at the same time so that you’ve got multiple meals that you can heat up later in the week.
With your dishwasher, only use it every few days when it’s full to save on power usage. Using the dishwasher is economical in other ways as well, using much less water than hand-washing dishes.
8. Reverse the Ceiling Fan
Most modern ceiling fans can change direction, which allows them to be used all year round.
During summer, a ceiling fan should rotate anticlockwise to direct air downwards to create a wind-chill effect. During winter, reverse the fan to a clockwise direction. This will draw cold air away towards the ceiling.
Either way, it helps your cooling and heating to work more efficiently, and provides you with times when you don’t need to turn on your air conditioner.
9. Dry Your Clothes Outside
This might seem obvious, but many people get so accustomed to relying on a dryer that the best method – using the power of the sun – gets forgotten.
While a dryer comes in handy on wet days or if quick drying is necessary, even in the middle of winter there are plenty of sunny days when using the clothesline is still the best option.
And, unless you’re in a hurry, it’s also possible to dry your clothes on an indoor rack. This uses no power and can be preferable to an energy-hungry dryer.
10. Change Your Personal Habits
This is the one that is hardest to define. Everyone has different habits when it comes to the use of electricity and yours might be without fault.
However, most of us have some bad habits that we can improve on. Are you guilty of any of the following habits?
- Leaving lights on in rooms for no reason
- Leaving the TV on when no one is watching
- Taking excessively long showers
- Hand-washing dishes in hot water several times a day rather than using a dishwasher once every couple of days
- Turning the heater on when warm clothes or a blanket would work just as well.
Trying some of the above tips can lead to significant savings. Not all of them may be applicable to your home and your lifestyle, but a number of them are bound to be helpful. In the long term, you’ll experience a win-win situation – a noticeable difference in your electricity bills and a reduction in carbon emissions.