Finance Your Budget Top tips to save on your power bill
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Top tips to save on your power bill

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No one likes a nasty shock when it comes to the quarterly power bill. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive surprise that happens all too often in Australian households.

The good news is that it’s possible to save hundreds of dollars per year using these simple tips.

Switch off at the power source

It’s the obvious and easy way to save you money on your electricity bill – turn all your appliances off at the power point.

An innovative device is Embertec’s SmartSwitch, which turns off your appliances when they are on standby without you having to do anything. In SA it is free to install in your home thanks to a state government rebate.

Change your electricity retailer

Changing providers can be the easiest way to cut hundreds of dollars from your bill. You can use an energy retailer comparison website like Make it Cheaper, GoSwitch or Switchwise or just call the companies yourself.

To pick the right plan – work out what you are already paying and if there are any fees associated.

CHOICE also advises looking at your energy use and comparing what you used each quarter over the past year to help compare offers from different companies. The SA Government also provides this chart to tell you how much each appliance costs to use.

Consider how you want to be charged. It can be a flat price, flexible plan which means different prices at peak or off-peak times, or a “controlled load tariff” plan with a different rate for a single appliance like heating, hot water or running a pool.

CHOICE warns that while competition between retailers gives consumers a strong incentive to shop around for a better price, it also gives incentives for companies to aggressively market their products – so be wary of unsolicited phone calls or visits.

“Consumers can sign up to bad deals, and in some cases they’re ‘signed up’ to deals without their knowledge by overenthusiastic salespeople,” CHOICE says.

Apply for a rebate

You may also be eligible for an electricity bill rebate if you are a low-income earner, a pensioner, a recipient of family tax benefits, a veteran or a senior.

These are state government rebates so you’ll need to check the relevant websites in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and WA. You can also apply directly to your energy retailer for the rebate.

Pay by direct debit

Some electricity providers provide a small discount, around one per cent, for customers who pay their bills by direct debit.

Buy electricity efficient products

Energy efficient light globes are an easy to switch appliance that will save you money through the year.

If you are in the market for a big new purchase, there are a myriad of appliances that can help cut your bill  – see here for reviews from CHOICE.  The Victorian Government provides a $100 rebate for concession card holders buying new appliances, while in NSW you can collect a rebate for handing in your second fridge.

You should also buy products with a timer function so you can schedule them to run at times with cheaper electricity.

It’s also worth nothing that plasma screens cost more than LCD screens to run.

Use major appliances off peak

If you’ve got a flexible pricing plan for your electricity, change the time you use your washing machine, clothes dryer or dishwasher for cheaper rates.

Generally peak times and “shoulder” times are between 7am and 10pm while off-peak is 10pm to 7am. Specific times for each period vary between states.

Adjust your thermostats

Heating and cooling are the most expensive appliances to run in homes. Every degree in heating or cooling costs adds about 10 per cent to the running costs of your appliance.

So for heaters and air-conditioners turn it up or down to save money – and don’t forget to close off rooms to reduce the area you are heating or cooling.

Use the power of nature

Don’t forget natural elements – if there’s a breeze, open up the house rather than putting on the air-conditioner. Likewise, in the hot, keep the house shut and dark to help slow it heating up. Of course, it pays off to have a well-insulated home too.

In fine weather, use your clothesline rather than a dryer.

Rebates and discounts by states

National

Concession cards

If you hold a concession card, in each state you will be eligible for discounted energy bills.  See the relevant state websites for details: NSW, VIC, TAS, WA, QLD and SA.

Renewables

If you have renewable energy technology including solar, small scale wind turbine or hydro at home, most state governments will provide feed-in-tariffs and in some cases rebates for installation.

NSW

Home power savings

Who: Concession card holders

What: A home energy assessment, power saving products kit and personal action plan.

How: Full application details at the NSW Environment Department website.

Fridge buyback

Who: Anyone with a second fridge

What: The program offers free pick up and a $35 rebate for you to give up your second fridge which must be more than 10 years old, in working order and more than 250 litres in size.

How: Contact professionals on the Fridge Buyback website.

VIC

Whitegoods Appliance Rebate

Who: Concession card holders

What: $100 rebate when buying new energy efficient refridgerators and washing machines.

How: Apply through a Victorian Government partner provider here.

Energy Saver Incentives

Who: Anyone

What: Discounts and special offers on selected energy-saving products and services, including energy retailers.

How: Go to the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target website and search for providers.

QLD

Economy tariffs

Who: South East Queenslanders

What: A number of rebates are available to South East Queenslanders who connect their air-conditioner, pool or hot water system to an economy tariff.

SA

Home energy incentives

Who: Anyone

What: Assistance with installing efficient lighting, showerheads, draught proofing and upgrading to energy efficient appliances to reduce energy use.

How: See the SA Energy Department website for approved energy providers and appliances.