Save on your energy bill

You can’t avoid death and taxes. But you can delay death and minimise tax. You can control your electricity costs, too. You can’t avoid them, but you can control how you access electricity and how much you use. Here are six strategies that can deliver serious savings.

Save with solar
They say you have to spend money to make money. The same can apply to energy savings – spend to save down the track. But what should you spend on and how much can you save? A solar set-up and most of the power bill is the usual answer. But solar is not inevitably cost effective. It will reduce your bills, but for it to pay off the initial expense you need to be in the right city and use the right amount of electricity at the right time of day. If you’re already in the habit of using a minimal amount of power and then only on the weekends and in the evening, it can take as much as a decade to offset the initial installation cost of a solar set up. That will be worse in cities without consistent solar radiation such as Hobart. That said, if you are in one of the sunnier capitals such as Perth or Adelaide and have the time to use appliances when the sun is shining, and also use the power on major loads such as hot water, the sums improve considerably. It’s claimed that your average household in these cities can pay off the system in less than 5 years. It’s clearly worth considering, with the proviso that you have to do the sums for your particular circumstances to make sure it stacks up.

Super energy efficient LED lighting
LED lighting is the low hanging fruit if you’re looking to save money on your electricity bill. If you still have old school incandescent bulbs or halogen downlights in your home, you are wasting money. LED lights can cost slightly more than an old school light bulb, but they last 10 times as long and use only a fraction of the electricity. The other added benefit is that LEDs don’t lose their brightness like old-style bulbs do. And it doesn’t matter what shape or size the bulb is, there is an LED alternative. If you are using those curly and awkward energy-saving fluorescents bulbs, there are LED energy efficient replacement options available. These types of light bulbs are rapidly becoming redundant. They are simply not as good as LED. You can even get large LED bulbs for the shed that draw a mere 25 watts and give you more light with a better spread than an old 100 watt bulb. They didn’t hand out the Nobel Prize to the guys who worked out how to make white light from LEDs for nothing. Are LEDs sounding like a good option for you? Need to find an electrician near you who can help you make the right LED choice? Keep reading to find out.

Reduce your hot water costs
One of the two major things that use the lion’s share of energy in most houses is hot water. Electric storage hot water is so wasteful that state governments discourage their installation in new builds. The easiest electric bill savings trick is to invest in an energy efficient gas hot water system. It is undoubtedly a cheaper way of keeping your hot water flowing. But bear in mind that gas doesn’t make sense if you install solar panels. Because you are generating your own power with solar, it is more economical to use it to power a major load. Doubling up with a solar hot water system also makes no financial sense because it is not worth the cost of putting solar panels in to run less than half your energy needs. For preventive measures, find an electrician near you to discuss the best options to arrange and install the most cost effective hot water system for your specific situation.

Air conditioning options to cool your electricity bills
The other big user of electricity in the home is heating and cooling. If you’ve made the decision to go with solar, reverse cycle air conditioning maximises your solar investment. For decent energy savings you should run the heating and cooling during the day and let the thermostat and insulation get you through the evening. If you don’t have solar, your best bet is to heat with gas and use an evaporative air conditioner in summer. Again that depends on where you live. Brisbane is too humid for evaporative coolers to be effective, but somewhere that mostly has dry heat such as Adelaide is perfect. The other option to look at is a split zone reverse cycle system. This ensures you only heat or cool the rooms in your home that need it.

Turn it off if you’re not using it!
You’ve heard it before but there’s no harm repeating it – turn things off if you’re not using them. A fan is not cooling anything if there’s no-one in the room. And your wiring and switchboard should be checked by an electrical maintenance technician to make sure everything is working as it should. All the little things add up over time and you can make savings by paying attention to detail. The most important detail is making sure you pick the right electricity ‘plan’. If the same organisation offers one plan that is more expensive than another, ask yourself the obvious question – what extra am I going to get for more money? It can’t be more electricity, so go with the cheapest plan. 

Understanding energy ratings
Last but not least is the energy rating on your appliances. When you get something new like a fridge or a washing machine, pay serious attention to the star energy ratings. There are two labels to keep an eye out for: the six-star label and the ‘super efficiency’ 10-star label for appliances rated at seven or higher.

Source: https://www.energy.gov.au/households/energy-rating

An energy efficient machine is a good investment, especially for things that you use often. So go for as many stars as you can get to make the most savings and pay less on your electricity bill. The energy rating label is full of information, so take the time to read it and make an informed choice about the things that you have electricity for.

It makes a lot of sense to put at least some of these things in place as you sort out a retirement plan. Keeping unavoidable expenses such as electricity to a minimum frees up cash for better things. Why not plan to enjoy yourself instead? It’ll take your mind off death and taxes.

Are you worried about your energy bills? How many of these energy saving tips will you try?

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Written by David Ellingsen

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