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Five Easy Ways to Reduce your Energy Bill

Australian energy bills are skyrocketing

Electricity bills are at record highs around Australia, with thousands of households looking for ways to reduce their energy bill.

Solar panels are a great choice for saving on energy costs in the long-term, but there are also a few small things you can do around the home that will make a big difference when it comes to your electricity costs. Here are five quick ways you can reduce your energy bills.

1. Keep warm naturally

Keep Warm Naturally and Reduce Energy BillsPhoto: Alisa Anton

It’s getting colder, and that means energy for household heating will increase. Air conditioners can use a huge amount of electricity and are the number one culprits when it comes to expensive power bills. They are used for hours on end to cool or heat large areas of your home and, depending on the efficiency of your system, it can cost $2 per hour or more to run. Isolated, $2 per hour doesn’t look so scary. But, if you run your air-con for eight hours per day every day, that’s almost $500 a month, or $1500 a quarter, spent on just heating or cooling! These hourly costs add up quickly, meaning your energy bill can quickly skyrocket.

Tips to reduce your air con energy costs

  • Our number one tip to reduce your energy bills in is to use natural warmth from the sun or cool breezes outside to heat or cool your home. For example, if you’re treated to a warm winter’s day, open up the house and let the sunshine stream in to warm everything up. In the summer, if you’re expecting a hot day tomorrow, open up the house tonight and let everything cool down with the fresh evening breeze
  • Our second tip: keep your blinds closed. It might seem like you’re creating a cave, but this is one of the best things you can do in extreme heat or cold. By keeping the blinds down, you’re reducing the chance of the warm or cold air inside escaping. Use your blinds or curtains as an extra layer of insulation and keep the temperature inside stable, without wasting energy.
  • Tip number three: get your air-con serviced regularly. If you can’t remember the last time you had the filters changed, it’s probably high time to give your air-con some TLC. Make sure your air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible and not wasting any electricity on inefficiency. An efficient air conditioner will use less electricity to warm your home in the short term and reduce your electricity bills in the long term.

If you have solar panels installed, make the most of your generated power by using a timer switch. Run your air con during the day when free electricity is available from the panels on your roof. This will pre-cool or pre-heat your home ready for when you return, and you won’t need to run the system as long or as hard when you do get home.

2. Switch everything off at the powerpoint

Reduce Standby Energy Costs

Photo: rawpixel

Leaving appliances on standby, instead of off, still uses up a significant amount of electricity. Even leaving fully-charged phones or laptops plugged in can use up electricity. Standby settings could be responsible for up to 10 percent of your energy bill. Powerpoints that are left on can consume energy even when you’re not using them; the electricity is still being supplied, even if you’re not using it. Appliances with remote controls, digital clock radios, touch-screen buttons or any type of flashing button or light have definitely got a standby setting.

Tips to reduce your standby energy costs

  • The easiest way to save on standby energy costs is by simply remembering to turn off all appliances at the powerpoint. This disconnects the electricity supply to that power point and ensures the appliance isn’t sitting idle and wasting energy.
  • Secondly, look for power boards that cut out when an appliance is switched to standby mode. If the power board detects that the appliance has been switched to standby mode, it will cut off the electricity supply to that appliance, without having to switch off the entire supply to other appliances. An alternative is a master/slave power board. These power boards detect when a ‘master’ appliance is turned off, such as a television, and will cut off electricity supply to any complimentary or ‘slave’ appliances, such as DVD players, media boxes or gaming consoles.
  • Finally, make sure you’re not using electricity when on fully-recharged devices. For example, if your laptop is completely charged, leaving it plugged in at the wall will still use electricity that you just don’t need. Watch the batteries closely, and when it’s close to being fully charged, unplug and turn off the charger at the powerpoint.

3. Dry your clothes the old-fashioned way

Dry your clothes the old fashioned way

Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov

Clothes dryers use lots of energy in the home. Despite being one of the biggest energy users, they are one of the easiest appliances to deal with when looking to reduce your energy costs. A 5-10kg clothes dryer can use up to $3 worth of electricity per load. If you run your dryer four times per week, that adds up to $370 of your electricity bill per month and almost $1500 per quarter.

Tips to reduce your clothes dryer energy costs

  • The most obvious way to reduce your clothes dryer energy costs is to dry your clothes in fresh air and sunlight. As much as possible, arrange your washing cycles for sunny days and invest in an outdoor clothesline or drying rack. Your clothes could even smell fresher; sunlight is a great anti-bacterial.
  • If you can’t avoid using the clothes dryer altogether, at least use an energy efficient machine. Rainy days are inevitable, but an energy-efficient dryer, such as a condenser-dryer, a heat-pump dryer or a gas dryer could help to stabilise your energy use. They might be a little more expensive up-front, but your back pocket will definitely thank you for it in the long term.
  • Our third and final tip is to consider the time of day that you use your dryer. As with your air conditioner, if you have solar panels installed in your home, aim to only use the clothes dryer when you have spare electricity while the sun is shining. A timer switch can make this really easy.

4. Air dry your hair

Air Dry Your Hair

Photo: Element5 Digital

It might sound a little strange, but hair dryers can cost a lot when used often. A hair dryer used on high can cost around $0.75 per hour or about 1c per minute. To blow hot air as fast as they can, hair dryers use large amounts of electricity for their size – between 1900 and 2400 watts. The higher the wattage, the more you’ll pay. Small changes to your daily hair routine can shave off a few dollars per month in electricity costs.

Tips to reduce your hair dryer energy costs

  • Our number one tip? Air-dry your hair when a blow dry isn’t necessary. If you really need the hair dryer, use it as little as you can manage by towel drying as much moisture away as possible.
  • If air-drying your hair is simply not an option, use a lower heat setting or invest in a hair dryer that is a lower wattage. Lower wattage settings and appliances use less power, meaning less of a hit to your back pocket each month.

5. Conserve your swimming pool water

Conserve Your Swimming Pool Water

Photo: Juan Salamanca

The backyard swimming pool is an important part of an Aussie summer; we have the most swimming pools per capita in the world! During summer, households spend a lot of time maintaining their swimming pools, using huge amounts of energy. Homes with pools can use up to 49 percent more electricity per year than those without. The average swimming pool can cost between $800 and $1200 per year to maintain. That equates to $23 per week, and that doesn’t take into account any heating. A heated pool will use even more electricity, which means an even higher price per week.

Tips to reduce your swimming pool energy costs

  • The easiest way to reduce your swimming pool energy costs is to install a pool cover. Using a pool cover can cut water evaporation by up to 97 percent, meaning you don’t have to use excessive electricity pumping new water into your pool day in and day out.
  • The second biggest energy cost with swimming pools is the water pump. Invest in a multi-speed pump and adjust the power of the pump when you’re only using it for smaller tasks, such as filtering. This will help to reduce the electricity used by the pump when it’s only doing simple tasks.
  • If you have solar panels installed on your home, make the most of your free electricity hours when the sun is out. Set a timer switch to operate the pool pump or heater during the day rather than at night, using the free electricity generated while the sun is shining. What’s more, when you get home from a tiring day of work, the pool will be ready for a refreshing dip without lifting a finger!

Reducing your energy bill is easy with a few small changes to your household routine.

Small changes can reduce your energy costs in a big way, and help you save even more money if you’ve already got solar panels installed on your home. By simply changing the time or way you use appliances, you can reduce the cost of your energy bills in the long term.

Find out how much you could save off your energy bills with solar panels.

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Main photo: Alexander Dummer

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