If you’re starting to notice your power bills creeping up thanks to the colder weather, you’re not alone. In winter time, our collective demand for electricity jumps upwards and a big part of that is down to us all wanting to keep our homes bright, warm and dry (and fair enough, too, right?!).
But that increased usage also means bigger power bills, and that ain’t fun. So, the big question - how can we keep our homes toasty, and still keep a lid on our electricity costs?
We reckon a few tweaks here and there can make a big difference. It’s all about being a little more crafty with how you use your power, and making a few changes to stop the wastage. So, in the interest of helping our #CleverFlickers control that power bill creep, here are our top tips to reduce your power use this winter.
Did you know… around 33% of your home’s electricity is used by your hot water cylinder?
Eek! That’s a lot, which makes this a good area to try and cut back. Here’s a few ideas to help give your hot water cylinder a break.
- Choose the shower over the bath. Baths generally use more hot water.
- Keep your shower under 4 minutes. Get yourself a timer if you need help to gauge how long you’re spending in there (it’s especially good for kids and teenagers!).
- Check your hot water cylinder. What to look for?
- Your cylinder and the hot water pipe coming off it should be insulated. Often older models (pre-2002) aren’t, but cylinder wrap is easily available from places like Bunnings or Mitre10.
- A constant boiling noise from your cylinder, or white stains where your pressure valve exits might indicate a faulty cylinder or a broken part.
- Your hot water temperature at the tap should be no more than 55°C (check it with a thermometer). You may need a professional to adjust your thermostat.
Did you know… around 21% of your power goes towards running your major appliances?
That includes your fridge and freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. If you’re on the hunt for new appliances, pay attention to their energy star ratings - the more stars, the better!
- Fridges and freezers run constantly which means it’s super important to make sure they’re working properly. Check the seals by slipping a piece of paper in the door and closing it (if the paper is held firm, your seal is sweet!), and defrost your freezer every 6 months to keep it working efficiently.
- Run full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine, or use the half-load setting.
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer. This helps increase air flow and speeds up the drying process. A build up of lint in your dryer is also a fire hazard (safety first, people). And make sure you leave enough room in the dryer for the clothes to ‘tumble’ dry - too many and they won’t.
- Dry your bigger items on the line. Obviously line drying everything is ideal, but in the middle of winter sometimes that just ain’t gonna happen. A good compromise is using your washing line or clothes rack (in a sheltered area if you’ve got one!) to dry heavier things like towels, jeans and bulky jerseys, and throwing the rest in the dryer.
Did you know… between 10-12% of your power is used on heating your home?
This varies a lot between heating sources, with electric heaters usually being more expensive to run.
- Heat pumps tend to be the most energy efficient heaters, though that depends on the specific make and model. It’s best to use the thermostat and run yours at a consistent temperature of between 18 and 21°C to keep your power bills in check.
- Electric heaters do cost more to run, but they can be a good way to heat a small space quickly (like a child’s bedroom). Use the thermostat and timer to make sure you’re only running it when you need to, and always do a safety check of your heaters before you use them.
- Insulation is key. If you’re renting your landlord is required to insulate your home. Check under the house and the roof space, and if the insulation’s missing, have a chat with the landlord or property manager.
- Keep the heat inside your home with draught stoppers (for the gaps under doors), window seals and by closing your curtains before the sun disappears. Window insulator kits can be worth a try, too, (like this one from Bunnings) to stop crying windows and keep in the warmth.
- Close the door on rooms you don’t need to heat - like the spare bedroom - so you’re not wasting power.
You might also be eligible for an insulation or heating grant under the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme if you live in a low-income area - check it out here!
Around 8% of your electricity is used for cooking. Thankfully, good ol’ slow cookers are much more energy efficient than ovens or stovetops, using an average 0.043 units of power compared to a stovetop’s 1.7 units. So it’s a good idea to try cooking dinner in a slow cooker a few nights each week if you can. (But also, what’s better than coming home to an already-cooked, delicious-smelling meal?)
Around 7% of your electricity is used on IT and entertainment tech. That’s things like gaming consoles, computers, and TVs. Switch ‘em off at the wall when they’re not in use, because even in standby-mode, they’re still using power.
Around 7% of your electricity is used for lighting. That’s for either incandescent or fluorescent lighting, so it’s a good idea to start making the switch to LEDs, which use next to no power - and don’t forget to turn off lights when you’re not in the room.
Last of all, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your customer dashboard. Both the ‘Analyse’ tab and the ‘Usage data’ tabs will give you an indication of how much power you’re using and when. If you notice your usage seems to creep up quickly at the same time you’re having a shower or cooking dinner (for example), you can work out the more costly and energy hungry appliances and activities around your home, and then make changes accordingly.
Want more info? Check out the Gen Less website for lots more tips and tricks.