Energy efficiency tips to fight rising electricity costs – part 1
Electricity prices will continue to increase. We cannot, as individuals, do a lot to prevent electricity prices from heading north. But we can take action to limit how much this will impact our family’s household budget by increasing our energy efficiency. I have compiled a list of actions householders can take that will make a real difference to your next electricity bill. Some actions are very simple, others will require an investment, but all are worthwhile in our pursuit of fighting electricity prices. Do 2 of these tips today and formulate a plan (with a date deadline) to tackle another 3.
Hot water accounts for around a third of all electricity consumed in the home. Decreasing your hot water usage is the best way to decrease your electricity bill.
Easy tip 1: Install energy efficient showerheads – already got one? Get a more efficient one
Cost to implement = $30, money saved on electricity bill = $100/year
An unrated old school showerhead uses upward of 25-30 litres of water per minute. A new WELS 3 star rated showerhead commonly uses 9 litres of water per minute. But why stop there; showerheads of 5-6 litres of water per minute will get the job done for most. Give it two or three days and most people find that they can’t remember what their old water guzzling showerhead felt like. Can’t quite stomach a 5L/min showerhead for your bathroom? Install it in the kid’s or second bathroom.
Easy tip 2: Shorter showers
Cost to implement = free, money saved on electricity bill = $100/year
I know this is stating the obvious, but I am constantly amazed at how long some friends spend in the shower. Do you really need to be in there for 10-15 mins? Get in and get out in 4 mins. I don’t even know, or want to know, what people do for an entire 15mins in the shower. Get yourself an egg timer, or a specific shower timer for $5 and make sure ALL family members (particularly those teenagers) stick to it.
Easy tip 3: Wash clothes in cold water
Cost to implement = free, money saved on electricity bill = $75/year
Switching to cold water when washing clothes will decrease your electricity costs of your washing machine by 80-90%. The less energy efficient (ie older and/or cheaper machines with 1-2 Energy Star rating), the more electricity you will save by only using cold water. I find cold water works best for me anyway as I normally don’t bother to separate my whites from colours. Cold water allows me to do this without risk of colour bleaching/fading. Only use warm water on particularly dirty and oily clothes.
Long term tip 1: Get a solar hot water system
Cost to implement = $5000, money saved on electricity bill = $400/year
Reduce your hot water electricity costs by up to 75% by switching to a solar hot water system. Many factors will determine which system is best for you, such as is natural gas available, is your roof north facing, how much sun will it receive, are there any trees blocking light etc? The upfront cost of purchasing a solar hot water heater is high, which is why there is some assistance available in terms of rebates and subsidies. Unfortunately the Federal Government ended Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme in February this year. However, you may still be eligible to receive Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) and possibly state and local government rebates for upgrading to a solar system. This site should point you in the right direction.
Can’t go solar? Look at upgrading to a model with a solar heat pump.
Heating and Cooling
Easy tip 4: Close the curtains
Cost to implement = free, money saved on electricity bill = $50/year
Reduce heat loss in winter by 40% and reduce heat gain in summer by 15% simply by closing your curtains. Use lined curtains or close fitting Holland or Roman blinds. Avoid vertical, timer and venetian blinds as they don’t produce the same thermal properties.
Don’t forget to open your curtains on those rare warm and sunny winter days to capture as much heat as you can.
Easy tip 5: Use fans instead of air conditioning on those warm nights
Cost to implement = $50, money saved on electricity bill = $150/year
Many people can get away with just using several mechanical fans throughout most of summer. Fans don’t actually decrease the temperature inside the room; the cooling effect comes from air moving over your body. Create an airflow by opening windows and doors.
Easy tip 6: Turn down the thermostat in winter
Cost to implement = free, money saved on electricity bill= $100/year
Keep your thermostat between 18-21 degrees C in winter. Put on a pair of socks and add an extra blanket over your bed to keep warm at night. Every degree that you increase your thermostat can result in a 15% increase in heating costs.
Long term tip 2: Insulate your ceiling
Cost to implement = $1200, money saved on electricity bill = $200/year
I know the Federal Government’s implementation of the insulation scheme could have been better, but there are significant benefits from insulating your house. Insulating your ceiling can save you 40% off your heating and cooling costs. Start with the ceiling and then work towards external walls. Remember to choose insulation with an appropriate “R- value” (higher = better) for your surroundings. More information on insulation can be found here.
Check your tariff
Are you on the best available electricity and gas tariffs available in your area? Enter your postcode into bundl.com.au to compare your tariffs against others in your area and then use our simple online tool to switch to the better deal. This may be the easiest way of fighting your electricity bill.
Disclaimer and sources
The savings, both in percentage and dollar terms, are indicative only and how much you will save is dependent on your family’s current electricity usage. Averages have been used where possible. The following sources have been used in determining the savings:
I will be updating these tips over the next few months, so feel free to leave comments or tips that may be useful for others.