With the winter chill often comes increased energy bills – part and parcel of staying warm and cosy throughout the colder months.
But just because the weather can sometimes put a dampener on weekend plans and force us to spend more time indoors, it doesn’t mean we can’t take proactive steps to ease our energy use.
Take a closer look at some of the main contributors to increased energy bills over the winter months and some handy tips for keeping your usage down.
Home water heating accounts for around 20% of total energy use. We all love a nice hot shower, but being smart with your water use will pay off in the long run.
- Take a closer look at your water heater settings and settle on 50°C for instant and continuous flow systems.
- Cutting your shower time by four minutes could save you up to $85 per year.
- Switch off your hot water system while on holidays. Once you’re back, heat and store water above 60°C for at least 35 minutes before use – which could take a couple of hours.
Heating your home
Those warm winter nights indoors (and cooling in summer) come at a cost – which sits at about 40% of your total home energy consumption.
- Don’t go crazy with the heater temperature – below 20°C will maximise efficiency.
- Shut curtains on winter nights to help ensure your home’s heat doesn’t escape through unprotected glass.
- Consider a nice hot cuppa, woolly socks and a hot water bottle as a great winter warming combination.
Many aspects of winter household activity cause energy bills to swell. Cooking those hearty meals, cleaning up afterwards, winter warming or staying in due weather all call for the support of appliances that together contribute about one-third of total energy consumption. Here are some of the main offenders.
Fridge and freezer
Winter meals keep us on track in the colder months – soups and stews and other slow-cooked goodness – but making sure your fridge and freezer are functioning properly will also help keep your energy bills palatable.
- Set your fridge or freezer in a cool spot away from direct sunlight, stove, heaters and dishwashers.
- Set your fridge temperature between 3°C and 5°C, and -15°C to -18°C for the freezer.
- Check your door seals are in good condition and seal correctly – any gaps will drive up internal temperatures and waste energy.
Wild winter weather can often lead to increased time indoors – which may include watching new movies or series, browsing favourite websites or using gaming consoles. More time at home means more energy usage, which tends to increase bills.
- Choose equipment that is the right size for your needs.
- Turn appliances off when not in use, preferably at the power outlet (or use a stand-by power controller). Many appliances continue to draw standby power when switched off at the unit.
Hearty meals are so often a delicious remedy for the winter chill. Using energy-efficient cooking appliances and staying smart in the kitchen goes a long way towards curbing your energy use.
- Keep the flame directly under the pot or pan and don’t let it run up the sides.
- Keep the lid on when possible to reduce heat loss.
- Don’t boil more water than is needed—on the stove or in the kettle.
Think about how many of your home appliances stay plugged-in at the wall with the power switched on, even when you’re not using them. Microwaves, lamps, TVs, washing machines – the list goes on. Standby mode silently adds around 10% onto your overall energy usage.
- Save energy and protect the life of your mobile devices by only plugging them in when a recharged is needed.
- Invest in power boards with multiple switches for more control over your energy use – just unplug appliances not being used.
For more information and tips for beating this year’s winter chill, check out our “Eight tips for gas heater safety“.
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