The dreaded electricity bill. It’s a simple fact that working from home means it’s more than likely that you’ll be using more electricity and therefore have a higher electricity bill at the end of each quarter. You don’t have the luxury of not paying a cent to charge your devices at work or not having to worry about the cost of the A/C or lighting. When you’re working from home, your employer might assist with office set-up and the like, but electricity usage? That’s on you. Every cent counts; that’s why we’ve put together these 10 tips to help you manage that electricity bill.
1. Install energy efficient lighting
You might not think it but light bulbs can add a lot to the bottom line of your power bill. The two most energy inefficient bulbs are incandescent and halogen bulbs. Australia started phasing out incandescent bulbs back in 2009 but if you tend to buy in bulk you might have some left in your garage. If you’ve got any left over you should replace them as they waste 90% of energy. Instead you should consider installing energy efficient bulbs like fluorescent or LEDs (light emitting diode). Bonus tip: You’ll find plenty of smart LEDs on the market that can be controlled from your smartphone, but it’s actually been found through testing that some of these can draw a lot of energy on standby, making them just as bad as the old incandescent bulbs. So do you research and make the right choice.
2. Adjust the thermostat
Running your heater or air conditioner can end up being an expensive affair if you’re not careful. What you need to consider here is the right temperature for your home based on where you live; just a few degrees over what’s necessary could add up to a bigger electricity bill. You can use this air conditioning cost calculator to see how even the smallest of changes can result in big savings.
3. Close doors and curtains
While we’re on the topic of the air conditioner, let’s talk about how hard you might work the poor thing. The harder the air-con has to work means the more electricity it’s going to use resulting in higher bills at the end of the day. It’s a no brainer but make sure you close all your exits; windows and doors. Close your curtains too to help stop the air temperature escaping through the glass.
4. Wash clothes with cold water
This one can depend on exactly what you’re washing but obviously it’s not always required to wash with warm water. Hot water uses a lot of electricity so if you can manage to do some of your weekly washing in cold water you could save a decent amount of money. As a bonus, washing your clothes in cold water is more sustainable in terms not just in electricity use but also in breaking the cycle of microfiber pollution; one study found that colder washes reduce less microfibers and help clothes last longer. Don’t forget to make sure you use any eco-friendly settings on your unit and also to make sure you select the right load size settings for the amount you’re washing.
5. Switch off appliances at the wall
This tip is brought to you via my grandmother who always insists that everyone turn every appliance off at the powerpoint. To her credit she’s not wrong. Let’s think for a moment about all the typical electrical appliances we have in our homes that we might not always turn off at the wall. There’s the TV, microwave, washing machine, dishwasher and even gaming consoles. That’s a lot of standby power or rather vampire power being wasted. It’s reduced over the past decade but vampire power still accounts for 5.9% of Australian’s total residential electricity use. By individual household again it’s not a lot, but every cent adds up.
6. Turn off the light as you leave the room
This one follows closely behind number 5 and is even simpler to practice. It’s simple but so important because now that you’re reading this you’re probably going to start noticing all the lights turned on in rooms no one is in. It’s a simple exercise; leave the room, light goes off. Think of the money saved off your electricity bill and in light bulbs you might save in a year if this is a regular habit of yours. Sometimes the smallest of changes have the biggest of impacts.
7. Insulate your home
Insulation is one of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home and save money on those heating and cooling costs. Insulation creates a neat seal effect for your home, keep it warm in the winter by keeping heat inside and keep it cool in the summer by keeping the heat out. If you had your home fully-insulated you could reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home by around 40-50%.
8. Get energy monitoring
The power company is tracking every watt you spend so why shouldn’t you? A smart meter records your energy use in intervals and then sends that information to your electricity provider daily versus a traditional meter recording the total for every three months. With a smart meter you get information about your electricity usage in real-time, which can help you see when you use the most electricity. It also scraps the fees associated with someone coming to read your meter.
9. Check appliance settings
This is another handy tip that doesn’t require a lot to put into action. When was the last time you adjusted your TV brightness, or the temperature in the fridge or freezer? Probably the first time you set them up, but that might mean those settings aren’t optimised for now. You’ll also want to make sure you use the eco settings on any of your appliances as much as possible.
10. Compare electricity providers
Just as you have to shop around and compare just about everything these days, it’s worth comparing electricity providers; especially if you’ve been with the same provider for years (with the discounts offered to new customers you’re probably getting a raw deal). There’s nothing worse than being locked into a contract you thought was great at the time only to see that change a couple of years down the line. There are plenty of sites to compare electricity providers but the government site Energy Made Easy is a good place to start.
11. Consider getting solar panels
This last tip comes with a fairly hefty price tag but could well be worth it. A well-set out solar panel system in Australia has a typical payback period of about 4-7 years. The best part about jumping on board the solar panel train now is that solar is the cheapest electricity in history; being cheaper than gas or coal in most major countries. Not only that but the paybacks are getting bigger. At the same time electricity prices are on the up. It’s not going to be the case for everyone but this family has reduced their power bill to zero by getting solar panels and a battery to store their extra energy. Solar panels really give all the other tips on this list a run for their money.
The wrap up
Whether you choose to go for the big life-changing solar panel option or choose to implement all of the other tips together to various degrees, you’ve hopefully started to consider some of the ways in which you can improve your financial wellbeing and reign in the spending on your power bill. The power’s literally in your hands.