The lower the temperatures, the more likely we are of seeing our energy bills rise. This is because according to the 2016 Residential Baseline Study by Sustainability Victoria, home heating accounts for 38% of the total amount of energy used in a typical Aussie household.
Winter is also not the peak for solar generation. Although your solar PV system is still working hard, it will generate less electricity as our daylight hours get shorter and shorter.
Are you worried sick of getting a winter bill shock? How can you stay on top of your bills during the colder months? Read on and follow our winter energy-saving tips to save some money!
In the heat(ing) of the moment, switch towards energy-efficient appliances
Heating is, by far, the biggest energy expense during the cold of winter. Different heaters will have different energy ratings, so it makes sense to invest in more energy-efficient ones. We understand it may not feel like that, but this transition can help you save money in the longer term. Look for electrical heaters with higher energy ratings, even if they cost more now.
Water heating, usually underestimated and overlooked in terms of energy consumption, is in fact the second-largest segment of household energy use. Therefore, it is also an important appliance to keep your bills low during winter. Solar Water Heaters (SWHs) are also to be considered, as a well-located one can provide for 50 to 90% of your hot water needs.
Last but not least, please make sure you dispose any unwanted appliances at your local e-waste drop off point! Help protect the environment!
It is also about HOW you use appliances
At the end of the day, all electrical appliances -regardless of how energy-efficient they are, will contribute towards your winter energy bill. Even those you don’t use but remain plugged in standby!
Take small steps and stay conscious of your power consumption throughout a week. You will be impressed at the difference it makes on your bill. For example, create a habit of switching the light off whenever you leave a room.
There are other, more inconspicuous bill offenders you need to watch out for. It’s a great surprise when we mention the kettle as one of such appliances. Kettles can make cold water boil in a matter of minutes, so their consumption of energy to make this happen is quite high. If you love a good cuppa, fill your kettle only with just enough water for the cups you’ll make in one go – it will be cheaper to run! The kettle’s running cost depends on its operating time.
As a solar homeowner, you have a winning hand when it comes to producing and using your own free energy. Monitor your PV system and schedule the use of high-energy appliances like washing machines and dryers at its highest point of generation.
Remember, if you are not using it, unplug it. If you are not in a room, switch the lights off. If you’ll be washing or drying, keep an eye out on your solar generation. And if you’re having a cuppa, don’t fill up the kettle!
When in doubt, insulate!
The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, or NatHERS for short, scores homes out of 10 stars. Quite the same as for appliances, the more stars a house has, the more energy efficient it is. Simply put, living in a higher-rated house can potentially save more on energy bills.
Unfortunately, most Australian homes have a big problem – new homes average around 6 stars, and those built before 2005 have a rating between 1.5 and 2 stars. That’s pretty bad (The Guardian, 2021).
Draught-proofing and insulating our houses and buildings can help us reduce the costs of heating. Wall and roof insulation is the best remedy, but anything that traps the heat inside your home can make a difference in your bill, from adding thick curtains in every window to placing “door snakes” under every door.
Like it or not, winter has arrived. Try these tips for a warmer winter without sacrificing the budget.