As working from home becomes the new norm, you may have noticed an uptick in your utilities bills. Here are a few tips from Foxie to save money and waste.
In the era of digitalisation, remote work is becoming increasingly popular. And since COVID-19 has become a part of our lives, millions of office workers around the world have had no other choice.
A survey from the ABS found late last year that 42% of Australian workers had worked from home at least once in the previous four weeks.
And while the home office can have its perks, working from home also means higher utility bills. The same goes for those who are now studying online.
If you’re trying to become more energy-efficient – you’ve come to the right place.
Our goal at Foxie is to help you find the most cost-effective utilities provider for your needs, but there’s even more you can do on your own to minimise your power and water bills.
To that end, we’ve written a list of our best tips to save money on your utility bills.
1. Stop Wasting Standby Electricity
Standby electricity refers to the energy your devices are consuming when they’re just waiting around to be used. Even if it isn’t doing anything, if the device is plugged in, it’s using up electricity.
In fact, standby electricity accounts for 5 per cent of the household’s total consumption. In a regular household, a dishwasher, a television, a microwave and probably several phone charges spend most of the day idle – meaning they’re still consuming electricity that someone has to pay for.
The best solution is to unplug your devices whenever they’re turned off. Minimising standby consumption of your home is a great way to save money.
If remembering to turn everything on and off at the switch sounds tedious, you can also opt for smart switches and power boards.
Using a smart switch, you can program schedules for devices to shut off entirely during parts of the day, control your switches remotely through an app and connect them to a smart home assistant like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa.
2. Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting
Upgrading your lighting is a proven way to take control of your electricity rates, especially if your home has incandescent bulbs.
LEDs are 90 per cent more cost-efficient than regular bulbs. Even replacing five of your most-used lights will save a significant amount of energy.
Not to mention the durability of LEDs compared to regular light bulbs. Some LED bulbs have a rated life of 50,000 hours, meaning that they’ll last 50 times longer than an incandescent one.
You’ll be saving on electricity and replacement costs simultaneously.
3. Adjust Your Thermostat
The thermostat is the command centre of your household heating and cooling. Yet, people often forget about its importance.
A malfunctioning thermostat can really cost you. This also applies if its settings aren’t right. Typically, you want your thermostat at around 26°C in the summer around 18°C to 20°C in the winter. Every degree above 20°C during winter can tack an extra 10% on to your heating bill.
4. Do Your Laundry With Cold Water
Warm water is better at washing away stubborn spots, no doubt. But is it always necessary? Most likely not.
Hot water accounts for a significant portion of your electricity bill, and cutting it out of the laundry routine will make a huge difference to your overall utilities spending.
Make sure to set your washing machine to eco if possible. Selecting the right load size is also important in the long run.
5. Consider Insulating Your Home
Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It can significantly decrease your heating and air conditioning costs. Your central heating unit will also see less use if the house is already at a comfortable temperature.
Pay particular attention to insulating your roof. This is where the most heat loss occurs in your home. Roof insulation can prevent air from escaping your home, resulting in steadier temperatures.
If your budget is limited, consider insulating your roof alone. Quality insulation is a long-term investment that can increase your home’s Energy Star rating.
6. Optimise Your Kitchen
Your kitchen is your home’s most expensive electric hub. Especially if you’re living in a shared flat. With so many kitchen appliances, you might experience some serious energy loss.
Your fridge might be one of the pricier culprits, especially with a leaky seal. Make sure that your seal is intact and your coils are periodically cleaned. This will significantly boost your fridge’s efficiency.
And note that a fridge runs for 24 hours a day – everyday. Keeping your fridge clean will help to reduce the amount of energy used, meaning you’ll have a lower electricity bill.
If your equipment is getting old, consider replacing it, and look for Energy Star qualified appliances. They don’t cost much more but will save you a lot of energy consumption in the long term.
7. Save Water in the Shower
There’s nothing more relaxing than a hot shower at the end of the day. Except it’s a lot of work for your water heater.
If you or anyone else in the house spends half an hour in the shower, your water heater is likely a massive contributor to your power bill.
The first thing you should do is come to an agreement among yourselves. Showers shouldn’t really take more than 10 minutes, and the more people there are in a home, the more long showers compound into a bigger bill. Maybe even just consider cutting the second encore from your shower concert?
Purchasing a low-flow shower head is another good idea. These shower heads use significantly less water. These two tips should greatly decrease your wasted energy in the bathroom.
8. Weatherstrip Your Doors and Windows
Weatherstripping your doors and windows can help save on your utilities too. Preventing air leaks is a great way to maintain your home’s desired temperature.
Do this to all your doors and windows for the greatest savings. If you’re really eager, you can go the extra step and weatherstrip your chimneys, attic doors and any other spots that might have air leaks.
Done right, weatherstripping can save you up to 20 per cent on your heating and cooling bills.
9. Invest in Solar Panels
Solar is rapidly growing among homeowners in Australia – domestic demand for solar power increases every year by hundreds of thousands. Australians typically choose to install solar panels because they are a sure-fire way to save (and even profit) on utilities in the future, and because using solar energy does a massive favour to our environment.
Even the simplest solar setup can help save on your electricity costs. Solar panels do require an upfront investment, but they compensate by having low maintenance costs. And they’ll save you electricity for the next two or three decades.
You’ll be saving on your bills and contributing to saving the planet at the same time!
10. Choose the Best Provider
Last but not least, make sure you choose the right energy provider for you. Energy providers have different rates – which are also sometimes called tarrifs – and they’re always changing.
If you’re moving to a new area, or just want to find out if you could be spending less on water, gas, electricity or even your internet, the name of the game is going to be ‘research’. Depending on your knowledge of the utilities game in Australia, this may take a while, and connecting your services with new providers at the same time can be laborious.
Or you could just call Foxie on 1800 952 438, and let us find the right utilities providers for your needs.
Foxie provides a service that is completely free and independent – we connect you with affordable electricity, gas, water and broadband providers that fit what you’re looking for. And we do it fast, in just one phone call.
Here’s the bottom line. Not all of our advice will be applicable to your living situation, but if you implement the ones that are within your power, you’ll definitely notice it when you get your next bill.
Saving as little as $50 a month will amount to $600 a year, and every bit adds up.
- Wondering about the best electricity price in Australia? »
- How to set up an internet connection in your new house »