Everything seems to cost more than it should, with energy bills joining the increasingly long list of things going up.
With an expected increase of up to 18% from next month, rising energy prices may worry households going into winter – especially those already struggling with the cost of living. But there are a few things you can do to lower your bills.
Here are some simple hacks for your home to help keep your power bill down.
Check your tariffs
“The first tip is to find out what electricity tariff you’re on,” according to Canstar Blue’s energy editor, Jared Mullane.
“There are a few different types. They’ll either be a single rate or a time-of-use tariff.”
If you’re on a single-rate tariff plan, there are no peak or off-peak periods, meaning you pay the same rate at whatever time you use energy.
A time-of-use tariff means the price of power changes throughout the day, depending on whether it’s a peak demand period. You can check which tax you are on by looking at your bill.
Mullane said that ensuring you’re on the right one for your household is key to saving money.
“For example, if you are on time-of-use, you probably want to limit or shift as much of your power consumption away from peak times, usually weekday afternoons, when people get home from work and school,” he said.
Insulate – not just for homeowners.
Heating and cooling make up about 40% of your electricity bill, so it only makes sense that effective insulation saves you money.
“We know that good insulation is pretty much the best thing Australians can do to improve their energy bills and live more comfortably,” said Lynne Gallagher, Energy Consumers Australia CEO.
“But we also know that not everybody can afford the upfront expense, and renters particularly are often saddled with poorly insulated homes.”
Insulating your home properly can cost up to $15,000, and it’s out of the question for renters.
Throwing rugs over tiled areas, using heavy curtains and door snakes, and sealing any draughts with proper draught tape will help keep you warm and save you money.
“While they may seem small, these hacks can make a big difference,” Gallagher said.
Only use heaters when necessary.
If you are cold and uncomfortable, put the heater on. But make sure it’s not running when you’re not in the room or overnight if you don’t need it.
“Depending on what sort of heater you have, generally they consume a bit of power to run,” Mullane said.
“Especially if they are left running. Even those little ones, [cost] $25, can be power guzzlers.”
Use appliances properly
Vampire appliances around your home continue to suck power when they’re not in use. The TV, the kettle, the microwave, and the gaming consoles are all vampire appliances.
If you’re not using it, ensure it’s off – it can save you $100 annually.
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Mullane also said to make sure you’re using appliances properly. Please don’t run the dishwasher unless it’s full, and make sure your washing machine is full and on the eco setting to help conserve power.
“Another big one – try and avoid the clothes dryer,” Mullane said.
“If it’s bucketing down rain and you have limited space, you might not have any other option, but try to hang your clothes on the line if possible. They use quite a bit of power.”
Don’t pay the default price.
“This is probably the most timely one, given the fiasco with the energy market,” Mullane said.
The Australian government sets the default offer or the reference price of the maximum amount an energy company can charge customers.
Mullane said that some customers are still paying the full amount when better deals are available elsewhere.
“Generally, if you haven’t changed [power companies] in a few years, you get shifted into default power plans, and you end up paying the maximum a retailer can charge you, which isn’t ideal.
“It adds hundreds of dollars in yearly savings between the cheapest market offer and the default.”
If you are having problems paying your bill, ask for help
If you’re still struggling to pay your account, call your energy company for support and a payment plan, Gallagher said.
“Don’t wait until you pay late fees, at risk of disconnection or rationing your energy and impacting your health. By law, they must offer you a plan to pay off your bills in a way you can afford.
“If you are concerned with the payment plan your retailer has offered you, ask them to change it and then ask to go on their hardship program.
“Hardship programs provide aumuchreater support and protection than payment plans.”