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Saving on electricity during winter

11 July 2023
• 5 minute read
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Contrary to what the rest of the world seems to think, Australia does get cold in winter. Some parts (we’re looking at you Tassie and regional Victoria) would give many Northern European countries a teeth-chattering run for their money when the nights draw in.

Speaking of money, what goes up when the temperature goes down? Yep, power bills. And with electricity prices forecast to increase by up to 25% in much of the country, this is no joke for families already coping with rising interest rates and other cost-of-living concerns.

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your electricity bill this winter. Some you can implement immediately at no extra cost, others require an outlay which will eventually pay for itself many times over.

So rug up warm and strap yourself in, ‘cos this money-saving party’s about to begin.

Keeping warm

The simplest way to keep warm without spending a cent is to layer up. The theory that multiple thin layers of clothing are more heat-efficient than thick ones sounds like history’s oldest winter-warming tip, but it’s only been common knowledge for about 80 years.

But if layering up isn’t enough, here are some other tips to keep that electricity bill down:

Make your own suntrap

The air temperature might have plummeted, but winter sun can still provide a lot of heat if you’re smart about it. Make the most of sunny days by opening curtains and blinds to let in those precious rays, making sure to shut them again when the sun dips in the afternoon. Draught excluders and door seals can help you trap that warm air for as long as possible.

Use an electric blanket

Electric blankets are an economical way to stay warm, with Energy Australia estimating a cost of four cents an hour compared to around 15 cents an hour for electric heaters.

But what really puts electric blankets head and shoulders above other forms of powered heating is that you only need to have them on for about 20 minutes. Once that lovely warm air is trapped under the doona, it’ll keep you toasty all night long.

Keep the heater on all day

You’d be forgiven for thinking that limiting heater use to regular short blasts would be cheaper than leaving it running all day, but that’s not actually the case. Heaters use the most power when they’re working up to your desired temperature, so constantly switching them off and on again is a sure-fire way to ramp up your electricity bill. If you must use an electric heater, set it to between 18 and 20 degrees and leave it on!

Switch electricity provider

If you think you’re paying too much for electricity, it’s always worth checking out your options. The best price comparison websites don’t just show you the cheapest providers in your area, they also make switching a matter of a few mouse clicks.

Cook up a saving

Unless you live on takeaways (in which case, your money-saving efforts should probably start there), chances are your oven and/or stove is contributing a fair chunk to your power bill. Now don’t worry, we’re not going to recommend you exist on salads all winter!

But we are going to suggest that an air fryer might be a wise purchase. Air fryers have been estimated to cost half as much to run as traditional electric ovens, and that’s before you factor in their greatly reduced cooking times (a whole roast chicken takes 35 minutes!).

Not only that, but the latest generation are also much more than one-trick ponies. For a couple of hundred bucks, you could buy a machine that can pressure cook, steam, slow cook, sous vide, air fry, bake/roast, sear/sauté, broil, dehydrate, and even make yoghurt!

Having said that, if you’re determined to cook up a hearty winter feast in a traditional oven, then at least leave the door open when you’ve finished to warm up your kitchen.

Other appliances

Of course, heaters and ovens aren’t the only appliances sucking up your hard-earned cash. Here are a few money-saving tips for some of the others:

  • Only run your washing machine and/or dishwasher on full loads.
  • Ditch the clothes dryer. It might take a little longer than in summer, but clothes will still dry on a line for free!
  • Turn off non-essential appliances at the wall when not in use.
  • Consider switching to LED lighting. Halogen, incandescent and compact fluorescent lights are outdated and inefficient, consuming up to 90% more electricity than their LED counterparts. Depending on where you live, you might even be eligible for government-subsidised globes and installation.

Longer-term investments

Bigger investments, such as having your house professionally insulated, can save you even more in the long run.

Depending on the size and location of your home, insulation can cost anything from $1400 to many thousands. But when it’s done, not only will it reduce your power bills all year-round, but it’ll also add value to your property.

The other option here is solar panelling. Installation generally costs anywhere between $3000 and $12000, which is a lot of money in anyone’s book. However, this is very much a long-term investment which should pay for itself after a number of years.

What to do with your savings

What should you do with the money you’ve saved on electricity? That’s a question only you can answer. All we’ll say is, you could do worse than putting it into a high-interest savings account. Many of these allow you to earn bonus interest when certain conditions are met, which is another way to feel all warm and fuzzy for free!

Important Information

Great Southern Bank, a business name of Credit Union Australia Ltd ABN 44 087 650 959, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence Number 238317. Conditions, fees and charges apply. This is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Consider the appropriateness of the information, including the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) booklet, before acting on it. The Financial Claims Scheme may apply to this product; refer to the T&Cs for more information.

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