Saving money on electricity is something everyone can do - it’s easy to achieve, often costs us nothing to implement, and has the ability to save a significant amount of money over any given month or year.
Like many other budgeting tips to save money, reducing electricity usage - and wastage - is simply about adjusting and improving your current habits. This guide will show you how to methodically work through your home to identify ways to reduce the cost of electricity and save an incredible amount of money on your power bill.
Never leave the lights on in a room
The most simple electricity saving tip is to always turn the lights off in a room you aren’t using - If you aren’t in the room, why is the light on, and why spend electricity to illuminate a room no one is using?
Every second a light is on, we are paying for it. If you add up the number of rooms in your house and the total amount of time lights are left on for no real reason, you’ll quickly see lots of money wasted on electricity. This tip also accounts for outside lights. Many people leave lights on to welcome home a family member or make it easier for them to see - it can often be far more cost-effective to install a sensor.
The main reason this is our number one tip is because it involves rewiring your brain to fix old habits. Many of us turn on lights in the day - when we enter the bathroom or in our bedrooms instead of opening a curtain in the morning - for no reason, it’s simply an ingrained habit. Unfortunately, it’s a habit that costs money, and makes your electricity bill that little bit bigger.
Energy-efficient bulbs save money
How many light bulbs do you think are in your house? Even in a very small house, you might find you have 20-30 light bulbs, and it’s unlikely these are all low-energy bulbs.
Take 10 minutes out of your day to change each and every light bulb to the new electricity-saving bulbs. These have the potential to cut your lighting bill in half, if not more in many cases. Imagine if your electricity bill consisted of $100 worth of lighting costs – overnight that could be reduced to $50 by installing these new bulbs.
How much does it cost to use your clothes dryer?
Regardless of energy ratings, the household clothes dryer is often a big drain on electricity. It consumes a heavy amount of electricity and should be used sparingly - where possible, do your washing and drying at a time when you can maximise available sun to dry your clothes. On most days, an item of clothing should be able to dry within one hour given proper exposure to sun or breezes.
One way to do this is to Invest in a large clothes line that attaches to the side of your house. The more you can dry your clothes outside, the more electricity you can save. Having the clothes line near the side of your house also means the heat in the bricks can help dry the clothes faster.
If you must use the dryer, make sure your clothes are spun dry in the washing machine before removing. This will improve drying time and reduce electricity.
Turn off devices at the wall to reduce your power bill
How many hours per day would you watch TV? If you’re working full-time and only watch television in the evenings, you might only use the device for two or three hours at most. Yet, most of us still leave our TV and other devices on standby for the majority of the time - although this adds momentary convenience, it adds up to a drain on your electricity bill.
Simply opt to turn off your electrical items at the wall when not in use. Allowing your large electronics to sit on standby will constantly add to your energy bill. You can even set this as your first electricity-saving challenge: Turn off five power points or devices that are not used in the day - you’ll see how this can save hundreds of dollars on your electricity bill per quarter.
Check your electricity reading in your electricity box
Sometimes, power companies and electricity providers are unable to read your electricity usage box. This may be because the contracted electricity reader cannot find your box, or perhaps they were in a rush that day.
If they don’t check your box, by law they are allowed to give you an average reading without checking the real usage. This means you may be paying for more electricity than you really used simply because your usage box wasn’t found. Always check your electricity bill that arrives in the mail against your actual usage.
Peak and off-peak electricity prices
Most companies charge different rates for electricity usage based on the time of day. This means you might be far better off doing the washing late at night than in the middle of the day. Although this will depend on the electricity company you are with, you can often call the company directly and ask them to tell you when off-peak times are - the price difference between peak and off-peak usage can save you big money.
Saving money on heating and cooling
- Turn the heating off when you sleep - Heating in winter can be very expensive. Invest in some decent blankets and doonas to avoid running the heating overnight. This will cut up to 8 hours of hardcore electricity usage out of each and every day in winter, a huge and substantial saving.
- Got air conditioning? Run it sparingly to save money - In summertime, the air conditioning unit is often the number one culprit for sky high electricity bills. Run the air-con sparingly in summer. Do not put the temperature right down because you are hot. Instead, opt to set the temperature only a few degrees below the outside temperature to make it a pleasant indoor temperature. Less is more with air conditioning, both from a usage and saving-money perspective.
- Shut doors to rooms you don’t use – Don’t pay to heat (or cool) an empty space! A quick and easy tip to save money on electricity is to shut the doors, compartmentalise the house and look to always section off rooms that are not in use. Your house will cool or heat faster, and you will save money doing so.
10 Simple Tips for Saving on Electricity
- Candles in the bathroom - Use a candle in the bathroom to reduce your need for lighting both at night and during the day.
- Your fridge, its seal and how it uses too much electricity - Fridge seals are the rim around the door that close it and stop cold air escaping. If your fridge seal is broken, odds are you are paying 5 times more than the next person to run a fridge. Get the seal fixed by a professional or invest in a brand-new fridge. The savings will almost pay for itself in one year.
- Consider replacing old appliances for new ones - Old appliances have terrible energy ratings. Look to upgrade your oldies for new. Don’t spend 20 years using a power-leeching washing machine; odds are a new one is not as much as you think and the savings it can bring (from an electricity-usage and water-usage point-of-view) are substantial.
- Gamify your electricity bill - Make it a game to reduce your electricity bill. Aim to see how many hours you can go without using a light or appliance each day.
- Switch off the electric hot water system if going away - Hot water systems often heat water regardless of demand. This means you may be paying to heat water while you are away. Newer systems heat only when required, which saves substantial amounts of money.
- Microwaves are more efficient than ovens - Microwaves reportedly cook food 3 times faster and use less than half the amount of electricity than a conventional oven. Consider learning to cook using the microwave; you can steam veggies, cook eggs and much more.
- Only use the dishwasher when it is a full load - Wash items by hand unless you have a full load to put in the dishwasher. Some dishwashers are smart enough to do an ‘eco wash’, however most of them end up using the full amount of water regardless of how many dishes you put in.
- Turn off spare fridges and freezers - Spare appliances, especially refrigerators and freezers, consume significant energy. Want to have double the electricity bill of an average household? Have double the usual appliances running. Turn them off and only plug them in when you actually need them.
- Don’t let ice build up in your freezer - Ice prevents cold air from circulating in the freezer and makes the fridge work overtime to compensate. Always keep your freezer frost-free and clean.
The 30 day challenge – can you not use electricity for 30 days?
Lastly, consider implementing a challenge with yourself to see how long you can last without electricity. By going back to basics, you can not only reduce your power bill by a large amount, but you’ll learn to adopt a mindset where you only use what is absolutely necessary.
Designate set periods of time during which you promise yourself not to use electricity. This may mean a whole weekend or perhaps even a full 30 days - see how much you can cut back on and watch your power bill rapidly decrease!