How to stay warm and save $206 on your total energy bill
Australian houses may not be built for the cold, but you can still do something about high heating costs.
When it gets cold, the heaters come out and energy costs start mounting up.
For a lot of people, heating isn't really a choice. According to a 2020 report by the CSIRO, roughly 80% of new houses in Australia just barely meet basic heating and cooling standards at 6 stars on the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) scale.
Older dwellings do even worse, with existing houses in Victoria scoring a measly 1.8 stars in 2020. Dropping even one star below the 6-star minimum can result in energy bills that are 20-25% higher each year, through no fault of your own.
So apart from moving to a better-built house, what can you do to lower those bills?
Quickest savings: Switch energy plan
In winter, heating costs can make up about 30% of your total energy bill. While we'll also cover tips to reduce energy spent on heating, changing to a cheaper energy plan is a quick way to lower overall heating costs.
Data from the Australian Energy Regulator's (AER) 2019-2020 market report shows that customers could save an average of about $206 per year by switching from an older "standing offer" to a more competitive "market offer" plan.
Making the switch will not only save you a small but significant amount on heating, but it will also help you save on all energy costs.
Better efficiency: Fixes around the home
Another option to drive down heating costs is making a few changes around the home. While a major boost to your home's energy rating may require extensive work, you can see moderate improvements by doing the following:
- Stopping up draughts and cracks with window and door tape or using sealant on air gaps
- Heating only the rooms you're using by closing doors to other parts of the house
- Using thicker bedding or a super cost-effective electric blanket so you don't need a heater on at night
- Investing in a more energy-efficient heater (we go through some great picks here)
Small but impactful: Adjust your thermostat
The target temperature you set your heater to heavily influences its energy use. In winter, it's reasonably cost-efficient to set your heater between 18℃ and 20℃, but going higher can really cost you.
Each extra degree past that point will raise your heater's consumption by 5 to 10%, which is no small matter. 18℃ is considered a safe temperature to sit around in – it's not until your house is consistently around 13-16℃ or lower that you're potentially opening yourself up to long-term health problems.
Following these tips, you should be able to shave a little off your winter heating bill. If you're interested in more ways to save on energy, check out our general guide to energy saving.