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Simple ways to reduce your energy bill

Here are some easy things you can do to save money on your power bill and make your home warmer and healthier too.

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Click on the headings below for more tips:

Keeping your home warm

Heat is expensive - save money by keeping cold air out and warm air in:

Windows and doors

  • Draw curtains at dusk to keep the day's heat in. The best curtains are thick and well-fitted, covering the whole window and preferably reaching the floor. A pelmet at the top is even better.
  • Double-glazing is fantastic but expensive to retrofit. Consider DIY window-film kits, which can cut heat loss through windows by half.
  • Stop draughts. Make sure your windows and doors fit into their frames, use draught stopping tape around windows and doors and draught excluders or door snakes along the bottom of doors. Even a rolled up towel will help keep in the heat. 

Floors

  • There are lots of low-cost products at hardware stores for filling gaps and cracks in wooden floors to prevent draughts coming through.
  • A well-placed rug can also help cover cracks and gaps. 

Heating

  • If your heater has a timer, use it rather than leaving the heater on all day.    
  • Many heaters are only big enough to heat one room. Close the doors and, once it's evening, pull the curtains.

>> More information on heating

>> More information on insulation

Keeping your home dry

Moisture and dampness constantly find ways into your home - especially when you're cooking and washing. You need to stop it at the source, or find ways to make sure it leaves the house. Otherwise, it can cause mould and mildew, leading to health problems. It also makes your home more difficult to heat properly.

Outside

  • Leaky pipes and blocked guttering can cause moisture inside your house , leading to mould and mildew. Fix any broken or leaking pipes and clear and fix guttering.
  • Lay down a moisture-proof membrane (basically, a giant piece of tarp) if there's dampness under the house.
  • Check around the outside of the house and see that all of the underfloor vents are clear of plants or anything that could be blocking them - this will help move the damp air out from under the house.

Inside

  • Cooking, showering and doing the washing all introduce moisture into your home. The best thing for this is externally vented extraction fans or vents, but if you don't have these make sure you open the windows to ventilate after cooking, showering and washing up.
  • Try not to dry clothes on airing racks indoors - all that moisture just goes straight into your home. If you can, dry clothes outside or in a vented dryer.
  • Bedding can absorb moisture over time. Air duvets, pillows, and other heavy bedding outdoors in summer.
  • Open a few windows and doors at the same time once or twice a day to air the house and let moisture escape, even in winter. Don't forget to open wardrobe and cupboard doors, too.
  • It might seem counter-productive, but sleeping with windows left open a crack to let some of the moisture that naturally accumulates in a room out is actually a good idea (only if you have security latches on your windows).
  • Don't use portable gas heaters - these introduce moisture (and noxious gases) into the home, and are actually the most expensive way to heat a home.

>> More information on dampness

Saving on hot water

Heating water is also expensive, so using less hot water can have a big impact on your power bills.

  • Unless it's an especially dirty load, modern washing machines and detergents are more than up to the job of doing a good clean in cold water. A hot water wash uses 90% more power than a cold wash.
  • A 15-minute shower costs around $1, a 5-minute shower around 33c - so a family of four could be saving around $18 a week just by taking shorter showers*. 
  • Using an efficient showerhead gives you a great shower, with much less water.  To check the flow rate of your showerput a 10 litre bucket under the shower, if it fills in less than a minute, your showerhead is wasting water.

>> More information on hot water

*Assuming an electricity cost of 26c/kWh.

Cut the cost of using appliances

Appliances left on when you don't use them waste electricity - a few new habits can help trim this:

  • Appliances that use standby power can account for 7% of your power bill. Major culprits are home entertainment appliances, like TVs, stereos and DVD players Plug them all into a multiplug board so they can all be turned off properly with one easy flick of the switch.
  • If you have a heated towel rail, only use it when needed. By having it on for four hours a day rather than all the time, you could save $180 each year*. You can buy timers for towel rails that come on automatically at certain times of the day.
  • Got a second fridge? Chances are it's an old more inefficient one and doesn't really need to be on all the time -especially if you're just using it to keep a few drinks cold.
  • Check your fridge door seals - if the door doesn't seal properly your fridge will be using more energy than it needs to.
  • >> More information on appliances

    *Assuming an electricity cost of 26c/kWh.

    Saving on lighting

    Lighting is probably one of the easiest places you can save electricity around the house:

    • Turn lights off when you're not using them.
    • Replace your five most used incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient ones and save around $100 a year*.

    >> More information on lighting

    *Assuming an electricity cost of 26c/kWh.

    Are you on the best plan?

    If you are looking for other ways to reduce your energy bill, it's a good idea to find out whether you are on the best plan for your household and how much you could save by switching energy retailers. Go to What's My Number for a quick calculation of how much you could save, then visit Consumer's Powerswitch to find and compare the best electricity and gas options for you.

    For more information and facts about power bills, visit the Electricity Authority website.