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Runaway Power Bills? Here’s How To Stop Them

The energy price rise is on.

Electricity bills have hit record highs around the nation, with thousands of Australians looking for ways to reduce their energy costs.

Solar energy and battery storage systems are a great choice for saving on energy costs in the long-term, but there is still more you can do. Even with solar or a home energy storage solution, there are plenty of things you can do around the home to make a big difference when it comes to your bills.

Here are five key appliances in your home that are notorious for high energy costs, and how you can reduce the impact they have on your bills.

Air Conditioning Systems

Air conditioners use a huge portion of energy in your home, and are the number one culprits when it comes to high power bills. They are often 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 your air-con alone! These hourly costs add up quickly, meaning your energy bill can quickly skyrocket in times of serious heat or cold.

Tips to save on air-conditioning costs

Our number one tip to help reduce the cost of running your air conditioner is to prepare your home for a hot day the evening before, naturally. If you’re expecting a scorcher of a day, open up the house the night before and let everything cool down using the evening breeze. In the morning, you might be able to enjoy a cooler house for a bit longer, instead of cranking the AC up as soon as you wake. Those hours add up!

Our second tip: keep the blinds down! Keep your house protected from the harsh summer sun as much as you can. It might seem like you’re creating a cave, but this is one of the best things you can do on an ultra-hot day. By keeping the blinds down, you’re reducing the chance of the outside sun heating up the air and surfaces in your home, resulting in a cooler indoor climate. This also applies in the middle of winter; lowering the blinds stops the heat from escaping, helping your air conditioner to run more efficiently.

Tip number three: get your air-con serviced on the regular. When was the last time you had the filters cleaned? If you can’t remember, it’s a good time to give your air-con some love. Making sure your air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible reduces the time it takes to heat or cool your home in the short term and lessens your electricity bills in the long term. You can also close off unoccupied rooms and close vents where the air conditioning isn’t necessary, meaning more air is pushed to rooms that you are using.

If you have a solar energy system installed, make the most of it by using a timer switch to run your air conditioning unit during the day when free electricity is available from the panels on your roof. While you’re out, you can pre-cool your home ready for when you return. The system then won’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature when you get home and you start using more expensive grid electricity.

Power Points and Standby Settings

Leaving an appliance on standby while you’re not using it still uses up power. Some estimates suggest that standby electricity wastage is responsible for up to 10 percent of your electricity bill. Power points that are left on can act like electricity vampires, consuming energy even when you’re not using them. If an appliance in your home has a remote control, a digital clock display, touch-screen buttons or any type of flashing button or light, it’s definitely got a standby setting. Microwaves, dishwashers, DVD players, televisions, games consoles – they’re all known culprits to sit on standby and use electricity without you realising.

Tips to save on standby electricity costs

Tip number one: the easiest way to save money on electricity through standby wastage is simply by turning off appliances at the powerpoint. This disconnects the appliance from the electricity supply in your home and ensures it cannot use energy while you’re not using it. Simple, yet very effective.

Our second tip is to look into using power boards that cut out when an appliance is on standby. If the power board detects that an appliance has moved into standby mode, it will cut off the electricity supply to that appliance. Another alternative is a master/slave power board. These power boards detect when you turn off a ‘master’ appliance, such as a television, and will then cut off power to the ‘slave’ appliances, such as a DVD player or games console.

Tip number three is to not use electricity when it’s not needed for rechargeable devices. For example, even if your laptop is completely charged, leaving it plugged in at the wall can still use electricity that you don’t need. The same applies to charging your phone, tablet and camera batteries. Watch the device closely and when it’s fully charged, unplug and turn off the cord at the powerpoint.

Clothes dryer

Clothes Dryers

Clothes dryers are big energy burners in the home. Despite being one of the biggest household energy-users, they are one of the easiest appliances to deal with when looking to reduce your energy usage and costs. A 5-10kg clothes dryer can use around $3 worth of electricity per load. This might not sound like much now, but if you run your dryer four times per week, that adds up to $370 of your electricity bill per month, or almost $1500 per quarter, just spent on drying your clothes!

Tips to save energy with clothes dryers

The most obvious tip is to simply not use your clothes dryer as often as you normally do. Take advantage of warm, fine weather and invest in an outdoor clothesline or a drying rack. You might find, with really warm days, your clothes will be dry sooner than they would be in the machine.

Our second tip is to look for an energy efficient machine. If you really can’t avoid using the clothes dryer, especially on a rainy day, consider investing in an energy-efficient dryer, such as a condenser-dryer, a heat-pump dryer or a gas dryer. They might be a little more expensive up-front, but your energy bills will definitely thank you for it.

Our third and final tip is to consider the time you use your dryer. As with your air conditioner, if you have solar energy installed in your home, aim to only use the clothes dryer when you have spare electricity while the sun is shining on your solar panels. A timer switch can make this really easy. Or even easier, set yourself a reminder to turn it on in the morning as you walk out the door on your way to work.

Hair Dryers

Hair dryers are found in almost every Australian home, but little do many people realise how much they contribute to your power bill. 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 a large portion of energy – between 1900 and 2400 watts. The higher the wattage, the more you’ll pay for it. Small changes to the way you use a hair dryer in your home can shave off a few dollars per month in electricity costs.

Tips to save electricity costs with hair dryers

Our number one tip? Go natural! Air-dry your hair when it’s not essential that you use the hair dryer. If you really need it, try to reduce the time you use your hair dryer by air-drying for as long as you can manage.

Secondly, if not using a hair dryer is simply not an option, use a lower 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.

Swimming pool in summer

Swimming Pools

The Aussie backyard swimming pool is a crucial ingredient to an enjoyable summer; we have the most swimming pools per capita in the world! During the warmer months, households spend a lot of time maintaining their swimming pools, using lots of electricity in the process. According to Canstar Blue, 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 and run. That equates to $23 per week, and that’s without heating. A heated pool will use even more electricity, which means the price per week will rise even further. To help manage these costs, there are a few things you can do to save energy consumption.

Tips to save energy on your swimming pool

The easiest way to save energy on your pool is to install a pool cover. This will save energy by reducing evaporation, meaning you don’t have to spend electricity pumping new water into your pool day in and day out. Using a pool cover can cut evaporation by up to 97 percent!

The second biggest energy burner in swimming pools is the pump. Look at investing 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 simply not needed.

If you have solar energy installed in your home, you can use a trusty timer switch to make the most of your free electricity hours when the sun is out. Set the timer to operate the pool pump during the day rather than at night. Bonus: when you get home from a long day work, the pool will be ready for a dip without lifting a finger!

Saving energy costs is a battle best won with small, incremental changes in electricity usage.

A few every day changes can reduce your energy costs in the long term, and help you save extra if you’ve already got solar energy installed in your home. By saving electricity here and there on appliances you aren’t using, or changing the time or way you use particular appliances, you can shave some fairly substantial dollars off each of your monthly bills.

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