Expert hacks to help you save on your winter power bills
Australian Energy Foundation and RACV’s top tips to help slash your winter power bills.
Many households face soaring energy costs this winter, thanks to the extra demand on power-guzzling heaters, computers, printers and other devices needed for working from home.
RACV’s general manager – energy, Jesco d’Alquen, says that with almost half of Victoria’s workforce working from home for several months, many households could be unwittingly racking up big power bills. “You don’t see the results of your power usage on the spot and people may not realise the impact until they get a bill,” he says.
Jesco says heating and cooling are the biggest power users in the home, accounting for up to 40 per cent of household energy bills, but that there are inexpensive ways to shave heating costs in winter.
He says draught-proofing your home should be a priority and can be as simple as using door snakes, floor rugs or weather seals around doors and windows.
He recommends avoiding using gas heaters because gas prices are high and these units also use electricity to power the fan. Overall, reverse-cycle, split-system heating is cheaper and Jesco suggests setting these units at 18 to 20 degrees to keep running costs down.
For non-solar-powered homes, he says power-guzzling appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers should be set to run late at night to make the most of off-peak periods.
It’s the reverse for solar-powered homes. Run the big appliances in the middle of the day when the sun is shining and generating solar power, he says. People with solar power should also check that their inverter unit, which converts energy from the sun into useable household power, is working properly.
A really simple tip to reduce your energy bills is checking that you’re on the cheapest rate suitable for your household, says Alison Rowe, chief executive officer of the Australian Energy Foundation.
Most Victorian households are consuming substantially more energy than in the same period last year. For example, she says, energy company Jemena reported a 27 per cent jump in customer energy usage in the second week of June compared with the same time last year.
She says on average, Victorians spend $15.60 a week per person on power, but warns this is likely to increase during the working from home period.
To avoid bill shock, Alison says the foundation can help people request an early bill outside of normal monthly or quarterly bills, so householders know what to expect.