Average electricity bill to increase this summer, here’s how to save

Normally the warmer months offers some reprieve from the big energy bills of winter, but it might not be the case this year.

After a winter of staying indoors, there’s no doubt the average Australian energy bill has soared upwards.

Energy supplier Red Energy told news.com.au the average household has increased their energy usage by 10 to 15 per cent this winter.

While working from home and social distancing meant we all spent more time at home this winter, it wasn’t our laptops of TV binge watching that was to blame for higher energy use — it was heating.

“Electricity usage usually peaks over the winter months, particularly in our southern states due to the cooler weather and longer evenings. There is also a bigger reliance on heating, lighting, clothes dryers as we spend more time indoors,” says Red Energy’s General Manager of Customer Management Lucy Aston.

However while spring and summer normally offers bill payers some reprieve from exorbitant heating costs, as with many things, this year could prove to be different.

With many Australians still working and spending more time at home, many households could be hit with a larger energy bill than expected. There at Econnex we recommend to compare your electricity and gas bills to make sure you care the on the cheapest plan. Start comparing by entering your post code below.

THE BIGGEST CULPRIT

While many of us know to turn off our lights when we’re not using them, the biggest contributor to a hefty electricity bill comes from how you heat and cool your home.

“A lot of people focus on visible energy use, like lighting but that’s less than seven per cent of your total energy usage,” says the Head of Policy for Energy Efficiency Council Rob Murray-Leach.

“Over summer what we’ll potentially be seeing is people go from using their airconditioning for one or two hours when them come home to people running their air conditioner all day.

“If you’re in a hot part of the country and you’re cooling your home for six hours a day, you could easily be spending $2000 on cooling this summer.”

While converting energy to heat or cooled air undeniably required more power than turning on your lamp or TV, the energy efficiency of your home also matters.

“It’s not just because of the system either, it’s also the house itself,” he adds. “You’re losing huge amounts of heating through the walls, through the ceiling and through the cracks as well. Breaking down the average household’s energy consumption, Mr Murray-Leach says around 40 per cent is spent on heating and cooling (especially in winter), with hot water accounting for 23 per cent. The rest is made up of your appliances like your fridge, lighting, television and other electrical uses.

HOW TO REDUCE YOUR ENERGY BILL

If you’re prepping your budget for a rude shock this summer, Ms Aston says there are ways Australians can minimise their power bill. Sharing her top six tips, they include:

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Use windows to regulate the temperature

Often under-utilised, opening your windows can increase the amount of cool air circulating in your home, while a closed bedroom door helps trap cool air in your room.

“When you wake up, shut the windows and close the blinds to trap more cool air. This ensures you won’t have to turn on the airconditioning straight away,” she adds.

“Use window coverings and invest in window treatments to prevent cool air from escaping your home.”

Use less hot water

Accounting for around a fifth of your energy expenditure, using less hot water while washing the dishes, showering and reducing the temperature of your dishwasher or washing machine cycle can save big.

“When washing dishes, rinse them with cool water, rather than hot. Don’t use a dishwasher until you have a full load, and deactivate it before it hits the drying cycle. Allow your dishes to air dry to save energy,” says Ms Aston.

“Finally, if you have a mixer tap, leave it set to cold water so it doesn’t generate hot water that stays in the pipe and cools.”

Use your air conditioner timer

Small switches can result in big savings long-term.

“It pays to figure out when the hottest periods of the day occurs. Use the timer to activate the unit only during those periods when opening windows and trapping cool air don’t help,” she shares.

“For every degree you increase heating and cooling, you increase energy use between 5 to 10 per cent.

Things like using a sleep timer and closing off rooms that aren’t in use will also help.

Insulate your home

Using wall and roof insulation cannot only prevent heat from escaping in winter but also trap cool air in summer. While renters may not be able to action this, draught-proofing your doors and installing blinds on your windows can also trap cool air.

Check your lights

It might only contribute six per cent to your energy bill but many Australians spend more than they need to. Ms Aston’s advice includes turning off any lights that aren’t in use, and use lamps when you don’t need to light an entire room. Using motion-activated motion sensors will also prevent you from leaving them on all night.

Clean your air conditioner

An unclean filter means your air conditioner can use up to 15 per cent more energy to power your unit.

 

“Grime gets caught in your air conditioner filter over the years,” says Ms Aston. “Clean the filter a couple of times every year and replace it if it’s worn out. The money you save on your electricity bills may, over time, outweigh the cost of a new filter.”

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