Energy saving mode: How to cut your power bill this winter
Countless Kiwis felt the chill of winter last night when the power went out – and while trying to save power won’t stop that from happening again, you may be left wondering how to cut back on your electricity bill.
The average Kiwi household paid $2067 for power for the year ending in March 2020. So with shorter days requiring lights on earlier and colder nights enticing us to switch on heaters and electric blankets, how can you keep your power usage down?
We spoke to Vanessa Willats, product manager for Partner Eco for Schneider Electric New Zealand, and got six smart tips for reducing your usage, plus found out how much you’ll save with each tip.
1. Change to LED lights
Shorter winter days mean we’re switching on lights earlier and using more power. You can mitigate your electricity use by changing light bulbs to LEDs. They’re a greener option and are also more energy efficient, using up to 80 per cent less energy and lasting 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
LEDs are available to suit in a range of shapes and sizes, from downlights to floodlights. Switching your light fittings to dimmable LEDs not only saves you power, but their long life makes for easy maintenance.
Willats recommends using warm white in living areas to give them a cosy feel, and cool white in other areas like bathrooms and kitchens where a crisper light is required.
• Switching to energy-efficient lighting could halve your household lighting costs
• According to Energy.gov, replacing your home’s five most frequently used light bulbs with models that have earned the energy star can save up to $75 a year.
2. Switch off at the wall
It’s easy to do but we often forget to turn off our light switches and appliances at the wall when we’re not using them.
Many household appliances, especially entertainment systems and tech devices, still chew up energy even when they’re on standby mode. You can save yourself some cash by unplugging all of your appliances or using a multi-plug board so all appliances can be turned off properly at the same time when you’re finished with them – including the kids’ Xbox.
• According to Energy Wise, appliances left on standby can cost you more than $100 a year on your power bills.
3. Get your timing right
Homes waste a lot of power through unnecessary heating. A programmable timer can help keep losses to a minimum by letting the temperature in your home stay at the right level to suit you.
You can use a timer to set the air conditioning (heating) to “off” during the day, when the house is empty, and programme it to turn on shortly before you’re due home. This means you’re coming home to a warm, cosy house. You can also do the same with your towel rail.
• According to Energy Wise, if you have your towel rail on for four hours a day rather than all the time you could save $130 a year.
4. Monitor your usage
Cutting down your power consumption can be difficult if you don’t know where you’re using the most electricity.
There is a range of products available that help you monitor your electricity consumption around the clock via an online app.
For example, a PDL product called Ecomind allows you to keep track of your electricity consumption, analyse your usage and learn how to save energy. It’s also a great way to teach kids about saving power.
5. Maintain your appliances
With winter’s cold chill, it’s hard to resist the comfort of a natural gas heater or reverse cycle air-conditioner. But the reality is these appliances can have a significant impact on your energy bill, especially when they’re not properly maintained.
When filters have a build-up of dust, efficiency is impaired leading to higher costs. Ensure your household heating is always running at its optimum by cleaning the filter once a week. Better still, put a reminder in your phone so you can set and forget.
It’s also a good idea to regularly check your fridge, freezer and oven seals to make sure you’re not using additional energy due to a leak.
Maintaining your power outlets and switches will also save you money. Damaged home electricals can not only use excess energy but are a potential safety concern because they contain live wires. Not only will this help you save on your energy bill but it will prolong the lifetime of your appliances.
6. Take faster showers
When it’s frosty outside, a long, hot shower can be difficult to resist. But research shows hot water accounts for 21 per cent of all energy used in the home.
Keeping shower lengths to a minimum, ideally two minutes, is a quick and easy way to downsize your bill.
Vanessa’s tip for kids: Make it a game for the kids by having a suctioned plastic hour glass on the wall. Whoever showers fastest wins!
• According to Energy Wise, a 15-minute shower costs around $1, a five-minute shower around 33c. That means a family of four could be saving around $18 a week, or $900 a year, just by taking shorter showers.
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