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The cost of living in Australia is at an all-time high and households are feeling the pinch more than ever. Gas and electricity bills have increased up to 18.3% in some states – couple that with soaring fuel and grocery costs, and many of us are scrambling to find ways to save money.
Fortunately, some simple changes around the home can save you thousands of dollars each year in energy and water bills. Making your home more energy-efficient doesn’t have to be expensive, and is almost guaranteed to save you money in the short and long term. Your house doesn’t need to be new either – there are plenty of ways older homes can be made more energy-efficient.
Here are our top 10 easy and practical ways to save money and reduce your household costs:
1. Caulk those draughts away
This could be the best $5-10 you’ve spent all year. Draughts around the house are one of the major reasons why many rooms can feel cold and uncomfortable – and your energy bills are sky-high. It will take a trip to the hardware store and a few hours of your time, but caulking around windows and doors that leak air is probably one the easiest ways to see a drastic change to your house’s energy efficiency, particularly when it comes to heating and cooling. The easiest way to check for air leaks is to light a candle around suspected windows and exterior doors. If the flame dances around, there is airflow and you have a leak.
2. Make sure you’re well-insulated
Insulation creates a barrier to heat gain and loss. Ceilings, roofs, floors, and walls all benefit from insulation. It’s a money-saving and practical way to keep your home cooler in the winter and hotter in the summer. There are a lot of different types of insulation out there, so find one that suits your needs. There is everything from fibre glass batts and radiant barrier to spray foam and recycled paper products all designed for various locations in the home.
3. Use rugs and curtains
Heating your home in winter is a dreaded expense. While there are some cheaper methods to heat your home like using a reverse-cycle air conditioner on heating mode, your goal should be to reduce the need for using the heater at all. Covering your tiles and/or floorboards with rugs and using curtains can all help to keep the heat in and the cold out.
4. Fix water leaks
Household leaks waste millions of litres of water annually in Australia. We’ve all had that pesky dripping tap or leaking shower head that we’ve ignored, but you would be surprised to learn just how much money this is adding to your water bills. Make sure that any leaks around the house are fixed. Whether it’s a broken tap or bad seal on your toilet cistern, getting these issues under control can save you an absolute tonne of money each year!
5. Double-glaze your windows
If you haven’t already, consider double-glazing your windows. Not only will this reduce your heat loss or gain by up to 30% when compared to single-glazed windows, but it can also help reduce noise from outside by up to 90%!
6. Switch to LED lights
LED lights are unquestionably worth the investment. LEDs use a staggering 75% less energy than halogen light bulbs and last 5 to 10 times longer, greatly reducing replacement costs and the number of light bulbs ending up in landfill. The up-front cost of LEDs generally has a payback time of less than 1 year. Many states, including Victoria and NSW, have government subsidised LED replacement programs.
7. Set your thermostat between 18°C and 20°C
Try to keep the internal temperature of your heating set to between 18°C and 20°C. Every degree you increase your heating can add up to 10% on your energy use. Set your thermostat to warm your house for times you need it. Turn it off overnight and when you’re away from home.
8. Consider adding solar panels
Solar panels are a fantastic way to save money on your energy bills. They use the sun’s natural rays as an energy source and then convert that into electricity for your home. Not only do they significantly reduce your energy bills and have a short payback period of under 6 years on average, but they also add value to your property
Don’t have the money for solar right now? Don’t let that stop you from making a great investment. Many solar installers now offer $0 upfront interest-free loans where you can pay off your system in small monthly installments.
There are also federal and state government rebates and incentives that can knock thousands off your upfront costs.
9. Install a solar hot water system
If you have the space and resources, consider installing a solar heating system for your hot water. Using solar energy to heat water is an effective way to use Australia’s abundant sunshine, save energy, save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions. On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%.
10. Choose water and energy-efficient appliances and fixtures
If you’re replacing any of your home’s major appliances or fixtures, consider choosing ones with a high Energy Rating or one that is regulated under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS). This can include fridges, washing machines, dishwashers showers, toilet suites, urinals, taps and flow controllers – all of which are responsible for a significant amount of energy and water consumption in the average Australian household each year. Repair or upgrade? Sometimes it may be worth repairing older appliances if they are still in good working condition, but it’s probably worth upgrading to a new, more efficient model when you consider factors such as repair costs, warranty and long-term energy costs.
11. Use a smart meter and load-shift your energy usage
It’s not just the amount of energy we use that impacts our bills but when we use it that can really make a difference. Electricity demand is highest during peak times when everyone’s home from school and work and using appliances like air conditioners, so by load-shifting your energy usage to off-peak times, you can avoid paying peak rates. Many modern appliances like dishwashers and washing machines have timers that let you set them to run overnight or during the day when electricity is cheaper.
If you want an easy way to track and understand your consumption, consider installing a smart meter. While a smart meter itself can’t lower your energy bills, it allows households to monitor their usage and adjust their consumption habits to maximise savings. You can arrange a smart meter through your energy supplier.
12. Compare and switch energy providers
Even if you don’t do anything else on this list, we can’t stress enough how important it is to shop around for the best energy deal at least every 6 months. Remember, energy retailers capitalise on our inattention to quietly increase prices. Our free energy comparison tool is the fastest and easiest way to compare your energy deal with over 95% of Australian energy retailers.
Here at Energy Matters, we believe in a zero-carbon future. As an advocate for sustainable, affordable and greener energy solutions, we will always recommend that Australians make the switch from the grid to a solar PV system.
For more information on how you can save money with green energy, please contact our friendly team on 1800 EMATTERS. You can also receive up to 3 free, obligation-free quotes from trusted local solar installers – it’ll only take you a few minutes!