8 life hacks to cut your electricity bill in half

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

As of last Saturday, the 1st of July, 2017, I officially live in the state with the highest electricity prices in the world. That's not a typo or an exaggeration. South Australia has the highest electricity prices in the entire world.

We all hate bills, but it's just a bit more sour knowing that you and your neighbours are paying a higher rate than every single other person on the planet. First world problem? Sure. Unfortunately that doesn't make it taste any sweeter.

To commemorate this occasion, I figure there's no better time than to give away a few of my money saving, electricity saving life hacks.

Grab a coffee, switch off your lights, and read on for 10 ways that you can cut down your winter electricity bill:

Change your light globes
One of the easiest things you can do to cut your electricity bill down is to replace all of your old light globes with LED lights. A 60 watt globe can be replaced with an 8 watt LED and provide the same amount of lumen's (brightness). The higher the watts, the more it costs to run. You can find LED lights that will fit your existing light fittings at your local hardware store or at most supermarkets and department stores. I replaced all of the lights in my house with LED globes as soon as I moved in, it cost me about $70 to buy the globes but will cut hundreds off of my electricity bill.
Bonus tip: I think it goes without saying that you should turn your lights off when you leave the room, but so many of us still leave lights on - myself included. Work on making it a habit.

Make a 3 degree difference
The most common temperature for heating is 21 degrees, but every degree cooler that you set your heater uses approximately 10% less power. Put on a jumper and drop your heater down to 18 degrees. You'll knock your energy use down by 30% and still be warm and comfortable.

Make use of the sun
On a cold winter morning it seems natural that you keep your blinds closed and turn on the heater, but even if it's cold outside the sun will still heat your windows and throw heat into the room. Open your blinds, remove objects that block the light from coming into the house and let the sunshine in, you'll get hours of free heating!

Give your fridge a make over
Start by setting your temperature appropriately, the most energy efficient temperatures are between 3 and 5 degrees for fridges and between -15 and -18 degrees for freezers. This is because these temperatures are easier for the fridge and freezer to gain back after you open it and let the cold air out. Temperatures any lower than this  make the fridge work harder and use more energy.
Your door seals are the only part of your fridge that locks in the cold air and they deteriorate over time. I recommend replacing your door seals every 4-5 years and giving them a wipe down at least once a month. The tighter they are, the more energy efficient your fridge is. Your fridge should need a good pull to open it, if it opens easily with little-to-no force, it's time to have those door seals changed.
Fill 'em up
A full fridge uses less energy than an empty one. This is because when we open the fridge door, all the cold are floods out. The more items that are in the fridge to maintain it's temperature, the less are there is that needs to be brought down to temperature again. This doesn't mean you need to always have a fridge full of groceries you don't need though, just keep a few large bottles or jars of water at the back of your fridge to take up the unused space.

Cold wash your laundry (and then air dry)
A little over 40% of the energy used when using a washing machine is used when heating the water. Instead, choose a cold wash cycle. Your clothes will still clean just as efficiently. In fact, the wash cycle will take about 25% less time than a hot wash. For bedsheets I choose to soak them in hot water with detergent for about half an hour before washing, then wash the sheets on a cold cycle.
During the winter months in the climate I live in, hanging out washing will take about 2 days to dry so I do opt to use a dryer for the clothes I'll need in the next day or two (I own very few clothes) and the rest is air dried. To save energy, hang out your clothes overnight and then put them in the clothes dryer in the morning to get the rest of the moisture out. This can reduce a two hour cycle down to 30 minutes.

Choose and vary your heat sources
If your whole family is congregated into one room, there's no point in heating other areas of your house. Close the doors and heat only the areas you need. If you spend the whole day in your study, don't run the heater in the kitchen and leave the doors open so it flows through. Instead, buy yourself an electric throw rug and rug up for the day. An electric throw rug only costs 5c per hour to run, compared to 45c per hour for a reverse cycle air conditioner (in South Australia, that is, probably half that price anywhere else..)
For your bedroom, an electric blanket is by far the cheapest heat source

Make good use of your power switch
It's estimated that 10% of your power bill is accumulated just by keeping your electronics in stand by. Your phone charger, television and microwave are still using electricity even when you're not using them. Good news it that just switching them off at the power socket stops their stand-by energy use. I know it can be annoying at first, but trust me, it's a good habit to get into.

Spend up front to save later on
Buying energy efficient appliances may cost a few hundred dollars extra up front, but will end up saving you thousands over the years that you own it. When it comes time to replace an appliance, never buy less than a 4 star energy rating. Your energy bill will thank you.


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