Shivering indoors is not the only way to avoid an astronomical energy bill this winter. There are lots of other ways to prevent bill shock.
On average about 40 per cent of the energy Australians use at home is related to heating and cooling. That doesn’t include heating hot water.
Installing solar panels and extra insulation might not be an option if you’re renting. But plenty of things are in your control.
Let the sun warm rooms during the day and then close curtains or blinds at night;
Close doors and only heat the rooms you are using. When the room is warm turn the heater off;
Keep drafts at bay with a door snake;
Pile on jumpers, thick socks, and beanies before turning on the heater;
Use a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket.
Set your thermostat between 18 and 20 degrees. Every degree above 20 can add 10 per cent to your heating bill.
Hot water is responsible for another quarter of our energy bills. So wash clothes in cold water; keep showers short and check if you have a low-flow shower-head.
It’s only natural to yearn for hot comfort food in winter but even the way we cook affects our energy costs. An electric frypan, pressure cooker or microwave uses a lot less energy than an electric oven, for instance.
Appliances are another major energy drain. Televisions are the fourth highest user of electricity in our homes and home entertainment products often use more than a washing machine, clothes dryer and dishwasher combined.
To help give big bills the flick, hunt down appliances on standby power and switch them off at the power outlet or the wall. Pulling the plug on phone chargers; microwaves; stereos and video game consoles all makes a difference.
The energy efficiency of your appliances plays a part, too. An old fridge or second-hand appliances are likely to drive up your bill. When you’re replacing or upgrading appliances aim to buy the most energy-efficient products you can afford. Energy ratings on appliances such as fridges and televisions include a star-rating (the more stars the more energy efficient the appliance) and an estimate of how much electricity it uses each year. A 106cm plasma television with ½ a star uses more than five times the electricity used by a 106cm LCD television with 6 stars, for instance.
The Good Shepherd Microfinance No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) can also be used to buy new essential appliances from televisions to washing machines. Applicants can borrow up to $1500 and pay it off in monthly instalments over 12 months.
And the Good2GoNow online buying service, available to NILS customers can help make energy efficient appliances more affordable.
If you’ve already ticked all these boxes, try reviewing your energy supplier, particularly if you’ve been on the same contract for years.