5 simple tips to slash your energy bill this summer

Posted: 22 October 2021 12:55 pm
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Give these tips a whirl and you could save hundreds of dollars a year, reduce your stress and enjoy a more environmentally friendly home.

Sponsored by Powerpal. Connect your electricity meter and your smartphone to see how much energy your home is using (and how much it costs!) in real time. Eligible Victorians can even get a Powerpal for free.

I don't know about you, but my energy bill is notoriously tricky to predict and always seems to come in at a much higher cost than I'd hoped.

I know I'm not alone. A Finder survey from September 2021 found that 16% of Aussies pointed to their energy bill as the most stressful. It was beaten only by groceries (30%) and rent or mortgage payments (38%).

Thankfully, there are ways you can cut the cost of your energy bill, or stay on top of it, so you can avoid at least one nasty surprise every quarter.

Track your usage

Some utility providers let you track your usage with an app and give cost estimates that are updated throughout the quarter. While this lets you plan ahead for expenses, it's not great at helping you cut costs.

That's where energy monitors come in. Energy monitors can go several steps further by letting you track energy usage (and associated cost) in real time.

Let's look at Powerpal as an example. Powerpal connects to your electricity meter and sends data to your phone instantly. Turn on an appliance and you can see exactly how much impact it's having on energy consumption – and cost – per hour.

This makes it super easy to spot costly appliances and learn better energy habits. When you can see exactly how much you're saving by switching those plugs off, it suddenly becomes much easier to remember.

In fact, Powerpal is accredited by the Victorian Government Energy Upgrades Scheme as an in-home display which is capable of reducing a home's energy use by up to 15%. Under the scheme, eligible Victorians can get a Powerpal for free.

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Compare providers

When writing this article, I requested quotes from 5 different electricity providers and 5 different gas providers, giving details of a home in Sydney. Estimated costs for electricity ranged from $261 to $293 a quarter. When I compared 5 different gas providers, estimated costs ranged from $110 to $133 a quarter.

It might not seem like much but that's a potential annual saving of $220 already. Plus, Finder data suggests most Aussies are already paying a lot more than the quotes I received.

In May 2021, we asked thousands of Aussies about their gas and electricity bills to find out how much people were really paying. Looking at NSW alone, the average quarterly cost of electricity was $360. For gas, it was $194.

Clearly, there are savings to be had just by switching providers. If you're not happy with the amount you're paying for your energy, it might be time to compare your options.

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Consider solar

Yes, solar panels do have an up-front cost but if your home is well-suited to solar, they can pay for themselves in a matter of years. In some cases, you can even end up making money on your solar panels thanks to excess solar fed back into the grid.

If the up-front cost is a big deterrent, look into interest-free loans for solar panels. Some states and governments have specific programs, grants or loans in place that can help residents fund solar panel installations.

☀️ Unsure about solar? The Powerpal energy monitor can provide personalised guidance based on your usage. It could help you decide whether your home is would benefit from solar.
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Upgrade or maintain your aircon

Aircon units can guzzle power, especially if they're an older model. If you can't afford to upgrade to a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly model, you should be doing your best to clean and maintain your current one.

Not only is it better for your health and the environment, it could also save you money. According to aircon specialist Voltora, a dirty aircon unit is forced to work harder to heat or cool your home and can end up using between 5% and 25% more electricity than a clean unit.

You should also aim to keep a constant (and reasonable) temperature in your home. No doubt it will be hotly debated within your home but, generally speaking, the advice is to stick to somewhere between 22°C and 24°C during summer.

A cat relaxes under a aircon heating unit.

Insulate your home

Yes, this is another one with an up-front cost but insulating your home can be surprisingly effective at keeping out heat in the summer.

According to YourHome, the government's guide to sustainable homes, up to 35% of heat gains are made through a home's ceiling.

But adding extra insulation to your home's attic isn't overly difficult or expensive. For example, adding insulation batts between ceiling joists is usually a fairly straightforward DIY job that can be done in a weekend.

A man installs insulated batting in an attic.

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