How to keep warm and keep your energy bills down this winter
Daylight savings and Game of Thrones season eight have ended and, unfortunately, winter has arrived. And while we may still hope to have a few more days of warmer weather to enjoy, the temperature is well and truly on the decline.
Cooler temperatures mean it’s time to bring out the Ugg boots and winter woollies from hibernation. And it won’t be long before you are cranking up the heater in an effort to stay warm.
But keeping warm over winter doesn’t come cheap.
Last year, the ACCC reported that household electricity bills have risen 35 per cent in the past 10 years . Gas has gone up too – between 2006 and 2015, retail customers saw price increases in all states; from 23 per cent in Victoria to 74 per cent in Tasmania .
Heating and cooling accounts for 40 per cent of energy use for the average Aussie household .
Add in hot showers and we’re up to 61 per cent of household energy use just to keep comfortable and clean.
So how do you keep warm this winter without blowing the budget?
Here are our top tips to reduce your energy usage over the colder months to keep that winter energy bill in check.
Stay under 20 degrees
According to research, every degree over 20 can add 10 per cent to your heating bill, so a good tip is to turn your heater down a few degrees lower than usual . You might think fans are just for summer but fans are a great way to increase heat distributions, especially when paired with heaters on lower heat settings.
Only heat what you need
It sounds obvious, but don’t pay to heat rooms that you aren’t using – particularly if you have a centralised system. Shut doors to rooms you aren’t using and draft excluders are a really cheap way to make your home more energy efficient. Those weird sausage things in front of doors may be a bit ugly, but they definitely keep the drafts out. A more expensive and longer-term option is improving your home’s insulation, particularly in your walls and roof space.
Make sure you always close the curtains or blinds – particularly at night – to help maximise heat retention. On sunny days, opening the blinds and curtains will let the sun naturally add some warmth to your home.
Review your heating
Electric heaters may be relatively cheap to buy, but are costly to run over the long term. While more expensive initially, gas heaters and some reverse cycle air conditioners use less energy and are more environmentally friendly.
Running a small heater in a large room means unnecessarily high costs, often without the adequate heat. Also make sure you keep your heater clean – a clean, dust-free heater will be more cost effective.
Remember how your parents always nagged you to turn the lights off? Well turns out they were right. Household lighting alone generates between 8 per cent and 15 per cent of your energy costs so turning off lights when you aren’t using them will help bring your costs down . And while you are at it, switch off other appliances rather than leaving them on standby (computers, washing machines etc.) which the SA government estimates could save you around $200 a year .
While using less energy over winter will hopefully reduce your costs a little, unfortunately it won’t change the fixed cost component which can make up a significant portion of your bills, particularly for lower users.
The best way to save money is to make sure you’re on a good value plan in the first place. Use energy competition to your advantage by comparing current offers in the market to see if you can find a better deal.
So take the time to review your energy plan now and hopefully the only shocks for you this winter will be which Game of Thrones characters are killed off (and not an unexpectedly high winter energy bill).
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