10 simple tips to save $700 on your electricity bill this winter

May 27, 2021


Electricity prices aren't going down any time soon. I'm sure we all remember our parents yelling at us to put socks or a jumper on when we got cold. I don't know about you but I'm a free spirit and hated wearing layers of clothing, especially socks and jumpers. Even now if I can get away without wearing a jumper I will. Layers people. 

I live in Canberra, Australia which can get down to -7C (19F) over night with a max day temperature of about 10C (50F), if you're lucky. 

But now as a single parent I am saving for a home of our own and a few things need to be cut back. I'm already very frugal but am very aware of how lazy I have become with my electricity usage. I was locked into a deal with my supplier where if I payed in equal fortnightly payments then they gave me a 20% discount. Sounds like a great deal right? Well no, because when I used Compare the market to compare electricity companies, even with the deal it was still over $100 a quarter more expensive. Which brings me to my first tip.

Prices correct as of 2021

1. Shop around for the best electricity deal.

How many times have you just connected with the company you know and stayed with them until you move? I move a lot so I often just reconnect with the same company. Now I know that you really do need to shop around. A lot of companies don't charge a disconnection fee but do offer new user deals. 

What this means is, you actually pay more to stay with the same company! 

Compare the market (not sponsored) is the one that I use here in Australia, you can compare electricity, gas, and insurance companies and by entering in your details (address and usage) it gives you quotes from each of your local companies. Just by doing this my supply charges went from 94c a day to 83c per day. That might not seem like a lot but over the course of 3 months that's $100 off my bill, or $400 a year. 

2. Do a powerpoint audit to save serious cash

In a quick ten minute circle of my home I found nearly 10 things that were using power even when I wasn't using them! This is money down the drain. Go around your home and check every single powerpoint, if there is something plugged into it that you aren't using, unplug or turn it off at the wall (in Australia we have switches on every powerpoint to turn it off). This includes phone chargers which are a secret money chewer. Did you know that phone chargers use power even then they aren't plugged into your phone? I also found the washing machine, dryer, computer, modem, game machine, microwave and air purifier all use power to run their monitors/ clocks in standby when not in use. Getting smart plugs can also help as these can be controlled with an app on your phone so one click can turn them all on or off as you leave the house. 

3. Computers and TV's are chewing your power bill

I am very guilty of these two. Generally I will leave my computer running 24/7. This is as well as having the TV going in the background when I'm not even watching it because I like the noise. Even turning your monitor off when you get up for a break can save dollars in the long run. 

In standby mode your TV uses about $6 a year to run, games consoles cost $13, Microwave $3 and a wireless modem can be up to $25. This might not seem like a lot but when you combine the total of running appliances in your home it can add up to over $100 a year in standby costs. If you only have one of each of the appliances listed below in standby mode (plugged in but not in use) it would cost your household $90 a year for the privilege of having them plugged in...Not to mention the average Australian household has 3 TVs, 2 games consoles and 3 computer devices which brings the cost up to $130 a year straight down the drain. 

ApplianceHourly standby usageHourly standby costAnnual standby cost*
Television (LCD)2.3W0.06c$5.26
Games console5.4W0.15c$13.14
DVD player1.5W0.04c$3.50
Computer monitor1W0.03c$2.62
Washing machine1 – 6W0.03c – 0.17c$2.62 – $14.9
Clothes dryer2.6W0.08c$7
Air conditioner2W0.05c$4.88
Wireless modem7 – 10W0.2c – 0.29c$17.5 – $25.4

4. Keep the cold out and the heat in

Now that you have unplugged everything lets talk about keeping the cold out in the first place. A lot of homes allow the cold air to enter without even realising. A few simple tricks can cut your heating bill drastically. I only turn my heating on for an hour a day now and it stays toasty warm through the day. 

Firstly, as the sun goes down close your curtains and blinds. This stops the cold air from cooling down your home where the sun warmed it up during the day. 

Get block out drapes. These are lined curtains that are much better at blocking the cold from entering and preventing your heat from being sucked out also. If you own your home then consider installing curtain caps which are boxes that enclose the top of your curtain rail and stop the cold/ hot air from escaping up.

If you are in a rental, as I am, then a neat trick is to spray your windows with water then cover them with bubblewrap. I kid you not. The cells in bubblewrap trap the air and act as a very effective barrier. I don't do this for all my windows as I like to see out but certainly for less used or seen windows such as the bathroom, laundry, lower/ upper panes or rooms that aren't in use. In a pinch you can also use car window covers also, the foil acts as an insulator. 

Finally move around your home and check all windows and doors for drafts. A lot of doors and windows aren't sealed properly which lets the cold in. You can get foam strips to run along the edges of windows to seal them better and draft stoppers for doors. A sock or stocking filled with rice is a great draft stopper for under doors, I have one against the internal entry door for my garage. Silicone can also be run around doors and windows to seal them better.

5. Avoid using power un-necessarily

How many times have you boiled the kettle only to forget about it and have to boil it again. Or if you have a kettle like mine that keeps the water boiled then you may be shocked at how much this is costing you. Heating elements including heaters, dryers and kettles are the biggest sucks of energy you can imagine. Try instead boiling the kettle in the morning and filling a thermos. This will stay hot for most of the day and save you having to boil it again. 

Cook in bulk so that the oven is full when you use it. This not only saves you time during the week but prevents the oven being in use to preheat for several hours a week. For small amounts (or fussy kids) like chips or vegetables get an air fryer which has a much shorter cooking time and doesn't need to preheat.

Dryers are an essential for many homes but there is also that big glowing thing in the sky which dries our clothes for free, yes folks lets go back to good old sun dried clothes. In winter it can be hard to get things dry but with just a little forward planning there is no reason you have to use a dryer. Running a dryer costs approximately $1.60 an hour. Which might not seem like a lot but one load takes about 1.5hrs to dry which is $2.40 a load. Average it to 3 loads a week and that's $374 a year! Or if you use it 5 times a week for bigger families (3 loads of clothes and one of each towels and bedding) that's over $600 a year to do something that can be done for free.  

With a washing machine, don't run it unless its full. I know my sister runs a load of whites or delicates with only a few items in there. Just hold off until you have a full load. If you need too, buy enough clothes to get you through a week. This also means you don't have to use a dryer to wear it the next day. 

Then we come to dishwashers. I know the ads say that using a dishwasher uses 1/4 of the water that hand washing does but I didn't believe that and looked that study up. They are basing this off pre rinsing, post rinsing with the tap running the whole time and changing the water twice during the washing up. I don't know about you but I don't know anyone who washes that way. 

We have been in drought for a long time in Australia which means we are just used to not wasting water. You scrape the dishes into the bin then half fill the sink with hot water. If you want to rinse the bubbles off (I see no need but I know some people do) then fill a second sink or bowl about 1/3 full and rinse in there. Running a dishwasher daily will cost you $100 a year.  

6. Lets talk rugs

No one likes cold toes. Having carpet in your home works as a natural blanket for your floor. So if you have hardwood or vinyl floors like me then invest in some rugs. Even cheap ones block the cold seeping up through the floor, it feels warmer on your toes and stops the floor sucking the heat out of the room also. 

7. Heat it up

There is a lot of debate over what the best method of heating your home is. I have ducted heating which sounds great but if I want to turn it on then it heats the whole house, even rooms I'm not using. I usually set it to turn on just before we get up in the morning to take the edge off then turn it off when I'm up. 

Fan heaters: These little guys don't really heat anything unless you are right in front of it or its a very small room like a bathroom. They also use about 70c an hour to run. I would give these a miss as they really aren't good for much. 

Oil heaters: These cost about 47c an hour to run. They can heat a much larger space and can work on a timer. I can tell you from experience that these can really heat a room! 

Panel heater: These are the mid range at 51c an hour to run. I have found them to not be as warm as an oil heater but still a nice option for a small space such as a bedroom. Keep in mind that if its left on over night that's $5 a night. 

Electric blanket: These are amazing for getting into a warm bed. I would always advise turning it off over night. Its a fire hazard (from a firefighter friend of mine who responds to the most electric blanket caused fires each winter) and its not good for you to sleep on an electrical current. They do however cost just 5c an hour to run. So, switch it on for an hour and warm up your bed, then turn it off at the wall. 

If you do use central heating lower it to as low as it goes (mine is 16C). This saves about $1 a day for every degree you lower it. Close the vents in rooms you don't need to heat to save it trying to heat a larger area. 

8. Go old school to warm yourself

Electric blankets are great but personally I go old school when it comes the warmth in bed. Sure sharing with other people will keep you warm but aside from that I go for flannelette sheets which hold my body heat much better than cotton and a heavy winter doona. When I first get in I like a hot water bottle (made with our thermos from earlier or from hot bath water, hey you aren't drinking it and it saves it being wasted). Go for a hot shower or bath before bed and your stored body heat will warm your bedding and keep it in all night. Chuck a natural fibre blanket on top for extra chilly nights. 

During the day hot drinks will keep you warm as well as eating spicy foods. I kid you not. Ramp up the curries in winter. 

Muscle is warmer than fat. I knew a woman who lost about 20kg just before winter and she said she has never felt colder. Yet my friends who work out regularly barely felt the cold. This is because muscle helps your metabolism fire which helps keep your body warmer. 

Thermal underwear! I'm not talking long johns but even a thermal singlet traps an amazing amount of body heat. 

Get it on. I'm sorry to those who, like me, are single but yes sex is a wonderful way to keep warm. It gets your heart pumping and you share that body heat. There is a reason alot of babies are born in Summer. 

9. Go for the jugular

Odd advice? Not at all. Placing a hot water bottle or heat pack on major arteries will warm you in a second. The amount of blood pumped around these areas is so high that it is warmed by your heatpack then sent around your body keeping you toasty warm. So put that hot water bottle between your thighs for a much more efficient heating system (this also works for keeping cool with a cold pack in summer).

10. Finally, turn out the lights. 

We have energy efficient bulbs now and I would advise everyone to make sure you make the switch if you haven't already. A friend had all her lights stop working and could only use her power points with lamps plugged in for several months. Her electricity bill halved. I know at my home turning on one switch powers several overhead lights. Things don't need to be as bright as daylight. Even at work if I'm the only one there I often only turn on half the lights, its a lot more relaxing and there is no need for so much light for most of us (unless you have night vision issues). So ditch the over head lights all together and plug one lamp in to each room. It's ambient, its cozy, and it saves you a ton of money. 

All of these tips may seem like pocket money but add them up and it can save your household $700 a year just from the things I mention above!

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