Saving money on electricity and power

09 Dec 09 / Posted by: Jessica

We set a new record with our power bill this winter. The cost of heating, feeding, cleaning and entertaining two adults and one child for a month during the cold season set us back a staggering $500.

We were so shocked we applied for an Energywise grant – www.energywise.govt.nz – to insulate our house and install a heat pump straight away, and we stopped using our unflued gas heater too; the moisture it pumped into the air meant we had to have a dehumidifier going full-bore to compensate, and it just wasn’t worth it.

Apparently New Zealand’s power prices have risen at three times the rate of inflation over the past eight years, so I thought I’d share some of the other steps we’ll be taking from now on to try to keep the rising cost of power under control.

Single out water and space heating

On average these will gobble up 50 – 75% of the total power you use but simple measures like only heating the rooms you spend time in, drawing your curtains at night, using thermostats and timers on heaters, insulating your floor, ceiling and hot water cylinder, swapping baths for a shower, and washing clothes in cold water, will all help bring your heating cost down. Check out our article on heating for other energy-saving ideas.

Get snugly with a “snake” or a “sausage”

The sausage-dog draught-stopper we received from a friend has turned out to be one of the most useful presents ever. It seals up the nasty gap under our front door – and never expects to be taken for a walk! Make your own by filling up a tube of fabric with sand, rice or sawdust.

Switch it off at the wall

Appliances on stand-by still cost you money. We’ve now trained ourselves to turn the TV, washing machine, stereo, phone chargers and even the stove off at the wall when they’re not in use. Just be careful you don’t flick the fridge off too!

Follow the stars

Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing appliances – the more stars, the more efficient it is and the less it will cost you to run. And make sure you use them wisely – a microwave costs less to cook food than the oven; use the sun to dry your clothes instead of the dryer; and switch the heated towel rack off to save you as much as $100 a year.

Shop around for power

Electricity companies are eager for your business and competition among them is hot right now. If you do get a better offer from another supplier, it’s worth checking whether your current supplier will match it as it may leave you better off in the long run – especially as a new contract may lock you in for a year or more.

Check you’re pricing plan is best for you

Use www.powerswitch.co.nz to check you’re not paying too much.

This free online service estimates your energy use for a year based on the information you provide from a current actual reading on your power bill and a few questions about your household, and then compares pricing plans from different power companies to identify the cheapest option for you. It’s completely independent and run by Consumer NZ with support from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

Use consumer power

If you’re in an area that offers it, check out new online power retailer www.powershop.co.nz They’re owned byMeridian and only supply electricity at the moment, but their low overheads allow them to keep their costs down. They also give you the option of choosing the kind of power product you buy (i.e. the cheapest or most eco-friendly) and you can even pay for power in advance to take advantage of cheap prices.

What are some of your top tips for saving power in your home?

Share your saving money on electricity and power tips with us!

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