27 September 2023

Hot tips: How to beat high energy bills the creative way

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Anthony Keane* says high energy costs are a constant challenge for households, so it’s worth thinking outside the box to reduce the size of your winter bill.

Everyone wants to keep their bills down, and this time of year is especially expensive for millions of households.

Surging electricity use costs people plenty in Australia’s colder states, but good energy-saving habits can cut all households’ running costs throughout the year.

You’ve probably heard many of them — don’t go overboard with airconditioner thermostats, stop draughts, switch off standby power and install LED lights.

Other energy savings are more obscure, but still effective.

  1. Electrify a rug

Energy giant Origin’s senior external affairs manager for energy markets, Stuart Osbourne said an electric-heated throw blanket could deliver winter savings.

“Opt for an electric throw instead of a portable heater,” he said.

“Electric throws cost only 3 cents to 4 cents per hour to run, whereas running costs for portable heaters can be over 15 times more to operate.”

  1. Pretty but not pricey

“Plants can help regulate airflow and temperature in your home,” Mr Osbourne said.

Candles could be good too, he said.

“Lighting makes up around 6 per cent of an average Aussie home’s energy use — so candles are win-win.”

  1. Dry your hair

“While hair will eventually dry, it’ll stay wet for longer if the air is cold, and can end up affecting your entire body temperature,” Mr Osbourne said.

“Using the hair dryer for five minutes will only set you back around 5 c.”

  1. An audit — but not for tax

Suresh Manickam, CEO of the National Electrical and Communications Association said an energy audit could switch on savings.

“Without information about how you’re using power, it is very difficult to cut down on your usage,” he said.

“Your local electrician will be able to give an energy audit or direct you to someone who can.”

  1. Wiring woes

Mr Manickam said if your home’s wiring wasn’t checked when you moved in, it could be costing you money.

“Usually the older the home, the older the wiring and over time, it can become damaged — leading to leakage,” he said.

“Add to this the amount of cheap and faulty wiring that is in Australian homes and you get a lot of electricity that you are paying for which is lost before it even gets to powering any products.”

  1. … and weirder still

Momentum Energy asked householders how they saved money, and the answers it received were entertaining, including:

  • “I wear night vision goggles.”
  • “When it gets too cold, go to your local pub with a roaring fire.”
  • “I put a small plastic cup over the hot water tap to stop people from using it to wash their hands.”
  • “We have self-imposed blackouts.”
  • “I hooked up an exhaust hose from my dryer to under my lounge for a warm seat in winter.”
  • “Regularly hosting games nights by candlelight.”

* Anthony Keane is a personal finance editor at News Corp Australia. He tweets at @keanemoney.

This article first appeared at www.news.com.au.

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