Winter electricity bills: How to conquer the cost of keeping warm
I could swear it was less than a month ago when I read the news about autumn 2016 being the warmest on record for Australia. But with temperatures suddenly dropping, those sunny weekends seem like a thing of the past. Winter has officially stepped in, jumpers have been pulled out and the heating has been cranked up.
Unfortunately, for many of us, more heating means higher electricity bills. In fact, Mozo research shows heating charges can make up about a third of a household’s entire winter power bill. And that’s why, to help you keep your home warm and cosy without having to worry about a bill chill, I’ve listed the top ways to slash your winter electricity costs.
Make your home energy efficient
Seal the draughts. Plugging those sneaky leaks in the walls, windows and the roof can really prevent the heat from escaping your home. And it’s pretty easy to do - you can buy draught stoppers for as little as $7.50 from stores like Bunnings and the savings made on your electricity bill as a result could be significant.
Add rugs. Another great way to add an extra layer of insulation to your home is to cover the floor with some decorative rugs. This will be especially useful if you have timber or wooden flooring and will also have the added benefit of giving your home a splash of colour.
Leave the curtains open on sunny days. Thank goodness we’re in Australia, as even the winter months get their fair share of sunlight. Simply open the curtains before you leave for work, so you capture the sun's rays during the day and close them as soon as you get home, to prevent that heat from escaping.
Shift to better heating systems
Get reverse cycle air conditioning. Is it time to change that old heater? Then it would definitely be a smart idea to switch to a reverse cycle air conditioner. A 5-6 star rated reverse aircon will not only be an eco-friendly option, but it’ll also cut down on your heating costs.
Upgrade to appliances with a better star rating. While you’re at it, check the other big ticket appliances in your home to see if any of the other gadgets need an upgrade. An appliance with a better star rating will use less energy for the same output and can have a significant impact on your electricity bill.
Crank down the thermostat. Once you’ve made all these other changes to your home, you’ll likely find you don’t need to keep the heating cranked up. If you do decide to purchase or upgrade your aircon, a temperature setting between 18-20°C would be most cost effective.
Switch to a better energy plan
Find a cheaper provider. If you haven’t switched your energy provider for a long time, there’s a good chance you could find a plan that offers cheaper electricity prices elsewhere. Use Mozo’s free online energy comparison tool to look for a better value plan in your suburb. In case you’re wondering if switching is really worth the effort, consider this - according to our calculations, households in Victoria could save over $300 a year by switching from the average priced plan to the cheapest electricity offer.
Switch to a time-of-use plan. Do you know if flexible pricing plans are available in your area? If that’s an option, then take advantage of a time-of-use plan and slash your winter electricity bill by using heavy energy guzzlers like the washing machine and dryer during off-peak hours when electricity prices are at their lowest.
Move to a fixed installment plan. One of the best ways to prevent a winter bill shock is to switch to a bill smoothing or fixed payment plan. What this means is that based on your usage and billing history you can choose to pay a fixed amount on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. While this won’t slash your electricity costs, it can prevent any nasty surprises at the end of winter and help you plan your payments so they’re easier on the pocket.
So don’t let the cold weather mess with your monthly savings. Take some time, make some (or all) of these changes and enjoy the charms of winter.