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6 reminders to reduce bill shock

As we approach the end of winter, you may have already received your first winter electricity bill and, like many Australians, been shocked at the results.

It seems that, for many of us, no matter how long we’ve been dealing with energy bills, we still occasionally slip into bad habits.

Luckily, bad energy habits are easy to break. With that in mind, now is a timely reminder for ways to reduce your energy use and thus prevent bill shock.

REMINDER 1: Don't get yourself in hot water

Did you know that hot water is often the biggest source of energy expenditure in the household?

To minimise the effects of excess hot water use, follow a few tips, including washing your clothes in hot water and only with full loads; running the dishwasher only when full and scraping your plates (or rinsing with cold water first); and taking shorter showers.

Consider also fitting a low-flow showerhead – the initial cost outlay will pay for itself in no time at all.

REMINDER 2: Control that climate

Aside from hot water, heating and cooling are the biggest energy guzzlers in your household.

Often, the key problem is the temperature at which you set your air conditioner. It can be tempting to crank up the heat in winter and crank down the cool in summer, but this isn’t an energy-efficient way to do things.

In winter, set the heating to between 18 and 20 degrees; in summer, set the cooling to between 25 and 27 degrees. Every extra degree (in either direction) increases your energy use between five and 10 per cent.

Close internal doors to maximise efficiency, and only heat or cool the rooms that you’re using.

REMINDER 3: Never miss windows of opportunity

Further to the point above, did you know that 40 per cent of the heat in your home leaks out through the windows?

And there’s a similar problem in summer – the need for cooling can be greatly reduced with efficient window habits.

During a winter’s day, open the curtains to let the sun in; during a summer’s day, close them to keep the sun out, particularly at the hottest part of the day or when the sun is shining directly into your home.

At night time, the opposite applies; open up the curtains and windows in summer to let the night air cool your home, and keep things shut in summer to retain heat.

REMINDER 4: Apply common sense to appliances

Appliances are the next biggest energy offenders in your home after hot water, heating and cooling.

Fridges are particularly energy-heavy – if you have additional fridges or freezers in your home, consider getting rid of them or upgrading to one larger, more energy-efficient appliance.

When cooking, keep lids on your pots, and fill the pots (and your kettle) with only as much water as you intend to use.

Dryers are heavy offenders too – where possible, let your clothes and linen dry in the sun. It’s free!

REMINDER 5: Turn it off at the wall

Standby power – ie. the power drawn down from an appliance when it’s not in use – is responsible for around 10 per cent of electricity use and costs the average household almost $100 per year.

Where possible, turn off all of your appliances at the wall when not being used – phone chargers, for example, are constantly drawing down power unnecessarily.

REMINDER 6: Lighten your light load

Let there be light ­– but only when necessary.

It should go without saying, but leaving lights on around the house is one of the most common ways to waste energy. Focus on only leaving the lights on in the rooms you’re in.

Even better, look into energy-efficient LED bulbs, which use up to 75 per cent less energy and last 25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

Finally, consider getting a dimmer switch, too, which reduces wattage and thus usage.

Overall, keep the above reminders in mind and get yourself into some good habits. Hopefully, next year's winter electricity bill will be a little bit less of a shock – or perhaps even not shocking at all.