The bill pinch: How to reduce the costs by being more energy efficient

Canberrans know all too well that we are the rare state that experiences four very different seasons. We’ve just come off a blistering hot summer and likely to experience a freezing cold winter, so naturally the workout our heating and cooling units get over the course of the year is fairly robust.

By understanding how your energy consumption is calculated and the items that consume the most amount of energy, you can make small changes around the house to cut down on your utility costs… and it’s easier than you think!

Low-cost savings


Lower your thermostat

Think about the temperature you run your heating and cooling at – most of you reading this will most likely have your thermostat set around the mid twenty degree mark in winter and high teens in summer – but how much is it really costing you?

According to CanStar research, the optimum thermostat temperature for Canberra in Summer is 26-27 degrees and 20 degrees in Winter. The harder your heating and cooling system has to work, the more electricity it will consume. For example, many heaters use 1500 watts of energy to run and are considered one of the most costly items on your bill, by dropping the temperature to sit between 18 to 20 degrees in Winter can save you up to 10 per cent on your energy use.

Replace incandescent bulbs

Halogen, compact fluorescent lamps and LED bulbs offer longer lasting light and are more energy-efficient than your old incandescent bulbs. Since the average home uses roughly 40 bulbs, switching over to greener bulbs is a great way to save on your electricity bill as these types of bulbs can provide a saving of $139 for the life of the bulb.

Energy vampires

Think about how many phone chargers and battery charging devices you have in your home, now consider that these energy vampires can be responsible for up to 10 per cent of your electricity bill. The average charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when not in use and 2.24 watts when connected to a device. While a single charger won’t make a dent on your bill, when you start to add up how many you have plugged in around the home, it makes you think twice!

Clothes dryer
Clothes dryers are among the largest energy consumers – the cost of using a 5kg machine can vary from $90 to $112 during winter. Instead, opt for a clothes horse and leave in a room which gets the most amount of sun – the clothes will take longer to dry but won’t cost you anything.


Shower vs Bath
It’s a given that you should be conscious of how long you leave water running especially while brushing your teeth or shaving, but did you know that on average a bath typically uses 284 litres of water compared to a shower that uses about 65 litres.

Dishwasher vs. Hand washing
Contrary to popular belief, it takes more water to hand-wash dishes than it takes to wash them in the dishwasher, in-fact you use 1/6 less water by running a full load in the dishwasher instead of hand washing.


Washing clothes
You should avoid running half-loads of laundry in your washing machine. A full load means more clothes get washed at once, which in turn conserves water and money. Also avoid washing your clothes in hot water as it only adds to your gas bill, instead opt for cold or warm water. 90 per cent of the energy used by your washer is used to heat the water and the other 10 per cent is used to run the machine.

Heat water to the ideal temperature

Many people set their hot water unit quite high, which is why it usually needs to be cooled down with cold water to reach the ideal temperature to shower or bathe in it. By turning down the thermostat on a gas hot water system, the amount of gas used every day is greatly reduced as the water requires less heating. A hot tip is to turn off the gas when going away for a few days or more, which means the water isn’t heating up when nobody is home.

By implementing these low cost savings you can make a significant reduction to your utility bills, on top of this you can take your bill reduction to the next level by investing in the following
high-cost, long term savings:

High-cost, long term savings

Larger appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, stoves and refrigerators are the most serious offenders when it comes to wasting energy. If you can afford it, replacing old or broken appliances with more energy efficient appliances is a smart investment, as you will spend less on running costs over the life of the purchase. Before shopping, be sure to research if you are eligible for any government rebates or subsidiaries.

When shopping for new appliances look for the energy star label, this label will provide three vital pieces of information:

1. more stars = more savings. For example, when buying a television, each additional star is 20 per cent more energy efficient than the previous star. or;

2. Low score saves more – The lower the energy consumption score, the less electricity the appliance uses, and the cheaper it will be to run.

3. Use the Energy Rating Label to work out rough running costs with some simple calculations.

Take the energy consumption figure and divide it by 4. For example, if the Energy Rating Label on a washing machine says it uses 400kWh, it means it will roughly cost you $100 per year to run.

Rebates and subsidies for households

Do you research as you might be eligible for government rebates and incentives on the following items:
Air conditioning

Battery Storage

Solar Installation

Hot water heat pump

Replacing old appliances

Fridge buyback scheme

Natural gas upgrade

Utilities support

Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS)

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