Sunday, August 23, 2009

20 tips to save money on electricity

We recieved our final bill on Friday for the unit we recently moved out of. It came later than I expected and was slightly higher than I expected, but I did not have time to look at it properly then, but today I did, and I was right. We have been charged for an extra weeks usuage, after I was told it would be disconnected. What really gets me about this, is someone else moved in right after we moved out, so I am being charged for someone elses useage. Add to that, the company is probably charging them as well, you can see how dishonest they really are.
I have called them and they have redone the bill and sent it to me, so we will see...

Unfortunately electricity is essential (ok, yes some people live with out it and are fine, but for most people it is a necessity!) We pay a lot of money every year for creature comforts electricity provides. Fortunately for my husband and I, we are pretty good and our bills are not normally terribly high. That said, I know we could be doing much better.

I sat down and had a really good think about what we already do and what we could do to reduce our bill.

1.) Switch off everything that is on stand by. Anything that is plugged in and the powerpoint on is using power. The TV doesn't actually need to be being watched to be costing you money! Think about it. Most things have a stand by light, right Well, what do you think powers that light? And why have a light on all night when you are asleep? TV, DVD player,toaster, washing machine the list goes on and on.

2.) Air dry your clothes. As you can see in the picture I am now fortunate enough to have access to a clothesline OUTSIDE!! And it is brilliant. Even if you don't have access to one outside, why not use a clothes hanger inside, on a balcony etc... instead of a dryer. I worked out last year that my dryer was costing me $150 a year, and since usage has gone up 20%, it would now be costing me $180 a year. I would much prefer that money in my pocket! As such, I now avoid the dryer whenever possible. And raining is no excuse. If you don't want the clothes hanging inside, why not run a few lines of string under a veranda and hang washing there?

3.) Use a slow cooker or your microwave. They use considerably less electricity. Some meals I cook in the microwave or slow cooker use just 20c electricity, where they would cost $1 or more on the stove. An added bonus of using either of these methods in summer is they don't heat the house up like an oven does.

4.) Check your fridge seals. If the seal is not working properly, your fridge will have to work twice as hard keeping the inside cool, because all the air is leaking into the kitchen.

5.) Keep appliances dust free. When dust collects on appliances, it makes them warmer, making it harder for them to run efficiently.

6.) Have electricity free days. On our last bill, our average daily electricity usage was $2.50 a day. Having 1 electricity free day a week would save us $130 a year!

7.) Use daylight properly. Get up earlier and go to bed later so you can do work in the daylight instead of having to turn lights on. Open your blinds as soon as you get up in winter to use the light to your full advantage. In summer, it gets too hot, and you are better off keeping curtains drawn to keep the house cool.

8.) Get the most energy efficient appliances you can when purchasing new. But do so within reason. Have a budget in mind when purchasing. You might be better off getting a slightly less energy efficient one at half the price, then getting the top of the range model, considering most appliances now are only designed to last until the warranty runs out.

9.) Dress for the weather. In winter wear long sleeves, hats, scarves, beanies, pants, jackets etc... NOT shorts and T-shirt. In summer, dress down to cool yourself. Wear long hair off the neck and use wet face washers to cool off.

10.) Ditch the electrcity blanket. They are an unnecessary evil. A polar fleece sleeping bag or even just a polar fleece blanket on the bed is just as effective, yet costs nothing to run.

11.) Change the temperature on your heater and air conditioner. Don't have it as cold as possible in summer or as warm as possible in winter. 1 degree can really add up.

12.) Look for high energy users in the house. Switch off every appliance. Go outside and check the meter. Then switch on 1 appliance at a time, checking the usage inbetween. This takes a little while, but will give you a great indication of which appliances are sucking the money out of your pocket. When you have identified which ones use the most, evaluate them. Do you really need it? Might it be time to upgrade to a more energy efficient model? Can some appliances do 2 things? Computers can play dvd's, cd's, etc... A dvd player can play cd's, most people also have mp3's or ipods, so really no need for a stereo.

13.) Block all drafts. The space at the bottom of your door is letting hot and cool air escape. Block it. You can buy a fancy blocker from a hardware store, use a $2 blocker or just roll up a towel and place there. Either way, block that space.
Windows let out a lot of air. Do they need to be resealed along the edges? Do you have block out curtains? What about pelmets at the top? Blocking chimneys when not in use will stop cold air escaping up there in Summer. Exhaust fans, if you don't use them, block them.

14.) Use curtains. I have always preferred timber venetians myself, but the energy savings from curtains has converted me. (Much to my husbands delight!). A good block-out curtain will keep heat in in winter and out in summer. A lot of energy is lost through windows.

15.) Use the fan instead of the air conditioner. They are significantly cheaper to run.

16.) Get kids active outside. So many kids are running up the electricity bill with their computer games, gaming consoles, watching tv etc... If they go outside and play, not only will they be healthier, your bills will be lower.

17.) Turn off chargers when not in use. Mobile phone, lap top, etc... all these chargers consume ALOT of energy and if your not charging, why are they on?

18.) Use solar lights. Get a set for the garden path. Have some you bring inside for night lights, or to light the way to the toilet. Pop them outside every day to charge and bring them in at night.

19.) Compare electricity rates. There can be huge differences in charge rates between companies, so it's worthwhile to compare them.

20.) Check your bills! Just like I said at the start of the post we were charged for days we didn't use electricity. We had disconnected. Over charging happens alot. Check your meter and write down your usage. Check it every week. Check it when your bill comes in and compare it.

A surprisingly large number of people have their bills averaged. The meters are never checked and they get over charged for years. It is definately worthwhile tracking and comparing your usage.

Whilst most of these tips are small, it's all the small things added together that will make a big difference!

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