3 tips to save money on your energy bills this winter
Ditch the stress of mounting energy bills by making simple changes around the home and actioning one important switch.
The thought of putting your heating on this winter might seem terrifying, especially given energy price hikes for 1 July 2023 have just been announced.
It might seem even more daunting given how poorly insulated and cold Aussie homes can be.
But, there's a few ways to keep cozy and save on energy costs.
1. Choose the right heater
It's a myth that the smaller the heater, the less power and money it'll burn.
Those giant reverse cycle air conditioners that you might have installed but don't use for heating? Yep, they're actually the cheapest to run.
We calculated its running cost to be on average $127 if used for 4 hours every day over the winter period (90 days).
- This is far lower than the average cost of heaters in general, which is $228.
- The most expensive electric heating appliance is a tower heater, with an average running cost of $354.
- The running cost for gas heaters is between $248 and $274.
2. Compare and switch energy plans, look for rebates and concessions
Consider energy plans the same way as you'd think about shopping for a winter coat.
You'll look at a few different online or physical stores to see who's offering the best deal within your budget.
Energy plans work the same way, though they're just a bit more complicated to understand. But know this, you're likely to get a better deal if you haven't switched plans in over 12 months.
- By comparing your options, you'll end up getting on the best available market offer. People who've been with their energy providers for years might be on a standing offer.
- Standing offers are meant to be a safety net set by energy regulators. They're the maximum retailers are allowed to charge you on these plans and are there for households that don't shop around for energy plans.
- The difference between standing offers and the cheapest available market offer on Finder is anywhere between $192 to $364 (as of May 2023), depending on your state or territory.
- Ask your energy retailer if you're eligible for any rebates or concessions that millions of Aussies missed out on last year. These findings were released by Victorian think tank Consumer Policy Research Centre towards the tail end of 2022.
3. Hack your home and make some lifestyle changes
It's time to DIY your home and yourself way of living.
We spoke with Jon Briskin, executive general manager for Origin Retail, to help with our roundup of tips.
- Wear extra layers of clothes. Choose the right materials for close to your body and then layer up from there. Make sure it's snug but comfortable and avoid cotton as it can get damp.
- Invest in an electric blanket. These cost an average of $13 to run over the winter season and would be perfect if you're home alone and want to stay warm.
- Use weatherproof tape or door snakes. These can help trap warm air inside the room so your heater's not working twice as hard to keep the area cosy. According to Briskin, this can reduce heating costs by up to 25%.
- Don't keep switching your heater on and off. This can rack up costs as your heater tries to restart trying to bring the room to a certain temperature.
- Ditch the clothes dryer. This is easier said than done, but even avoiding it once a week can go a long way. Take advantage of sunny days and bring the clothes in at night even if they're not fully dry yet. It'll help speed up the process and avoid leaving that wet smell in your clothes.
- Take shorter showers. Hot showers in the winter are a game changer, but these can rack up costs quickly. Limiting your shower to 4 instead of the average 7 minutes a day could save $200 a year on your water and energy bills.
- Make the most of sunnier days. Open your curtains and let the sunshine warm your spaces. "As the sun dips in the afternoon, keep the cool at bay by shutting your curtains, and use draught stoppers to keep cool air from creeping in," Briskin said.
Are Aussies taking advantage of these DIY tips? Primary school teacher, Elizabeth Michelle, who lives in an apartment with her 12-year-old son, says yes.
Heading into winter one of the biggest changes we make is insulating the house in the afternoon to retain the heat from the day. At 5pm we'll go around and close any windows and shut the blinds to stop cold air leaking in. If we wait even an hour longer it makes a big difference and we'll need to use the ducted heating to warm up.
All in all, it's the small changes that can add up and save you hundreds of dollars on energy costs down the line.
Read our roundup of the best energy deals for May 2023 and save money on your electricity and gas bills.