5 easy ways to cut your power bill in a heatwave
With Australia in the grips of one of the hottest summers on record, air conditioners and fans across the nation are cranking. And although in many areas air conditioning is a necessity, high usage at this time of year can have a huge impact on electricity bills.
So here are some timely tips to help reduce your power usage around the home, keep your power costs to a minimum, and keep your cool.
1. Insulate, insulate, insulate
With heating and cooling responsible for the majority of the average Australian household’s energy use, insulating your home is one of the best ways to reduce your power usage. Acting as a barrier to heat flow, the right insulation keeps your home cool in summer and warm in winter. And the money you’ll save in power bills means your insulation will be paid for in a relatively short time.
If you already have insulation, check that it’s properly installed and has the right rating (measured in ‘R-Value’). Your Home, the Australian government’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes, has some great advice on the best way to insulate your home depending on climate and other variable factors.
Draught proofing is also important as draughts can account for up to 25 per cent of air escaping your home. You can buy draught excluders or window seals very cheaply at your local hardware.
2. Be smart with your air conditioner
According to consumer group CHOICE, turning your air conditioner on early can help reduce your power usage. If it looks like being a scorcher, pre-empt the heat rather than waiting until your home is already hot. Make sure you keep your doors and windows shut when the air conditioner is on and shade your windows to keep out the heat.
Choosing an air conditioner with a programmable timer and thermostat control is also important. Set your air conditioning at the maximum temperature where you still feel cool (usually around 25°C). CHOICE has found that each 1°C increase of the thermostat setting will save about 10 per cent on your energy usage.
Better still, install ceiling fans instead as they are much cheaper than air conditioning and have less impact on the environment.
And, in case you missed it, read this story we did on air conditioners a couple of months back.
3. Run your fridge efficiently
It’s no surprise our fridges are working extra hard in the hot weather. Many of us also rely on a second fridge or freezer over the summer months. But with your fridge always on, it’s one of your most expensive appliances. Make sure your fridge door seals are tight and free from gaps so cold air can’t escape.
And check your thermostats to make sure your fridge and freezer aren’t over-working. According to SwitchOn, a Victorian government energy efficiency initiative, an ideal fridge temperature is 4 or 5°C and an ideal freezer temperature is -15 to -18°C.
If you’re about to buy a new fridge, choose a high star rated, energy efficient model. All new fridges sold in Australia now have energy rating stars – the more stars, the more energy savings. For more information, head to the government’s energy rating website. CHOICE also has a handy fridge buying guide on its website, which you can check out here.
4. Say goodbye to standby
We all know it’s probably best not to have our appliances on standby 24/7. But did you know this can actually account for up to 10 per cent of your electricity usage? Even phone chargers still use electricity when your phone is not attached so it definitely pays to switch off where you can.
While this video was made for the American market, it humorously illustrates just how much this ‘vampire power’ can affect your power bill.
5. Cold power
And finally, it’s not just about having the right appliances – it’s how you use them too. Over summer, consider washing your clothes in cold water to save up to five times more energy than a warm wash. According to SwitchOn, this could save you a hefty $115 per year. You can also save by making sure you select the shortest appropriate washing cycle and waiting until you have a full load.