How to Save Money on Power – 7 Tips & Tricks

Energy efficient light bulb glowing over a green background
We aren’t even halfway through autumn, and it already feels like winter is coming. The days are getting shorter and the temperature colder, New Zealand winter is right at our doorstep and getting out of bed in the morning is becoming a real struggle. However, it isn’t just our motivation levels that are getting impacted by the oncoming winter chills. Our power bill often feels the brunt of the changing environment that surrounds us too. Heaters get used, lights stay on for longer, clothes get chucked in the dryer and hopping out of the shower becomes a delayed task. Yes, an increased power bill is the unfortunate side effect of winter, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many cost-effective tips and tricks to keep our power costs down. While we have done a staying warm during winter blog in the past (Click Here to Read), we thought it was time for some more additional tips. So here are seven tips you should consider when trying to keep that power bill down.

Keep in the Heat

It’s a lot cheaper to heat a smaller space than it is to heat a larger one. We should focus on the rooms that we are using and keep doors and windows closed. If everyone hangs out in the living room at night time, then we should make sure the hallway door, the front door and any other door are shut before we turn the heating on. Having a household with an open kitchen and living room comes in handy here, as having someone cook dinner in the same room with all the doors closed, can trap the heat in, warming up the room for us. Opening and shutting the curtains at the appropriate times can help save on the cost of heating. Letting the sunlight in and then later trapping heat in can be a very efficient way to save money on heating costs. Sunlight is a free energy source, so we might as well use it while we can.

Make Sure it Stays in

Having a well-insulated home can do wonders for our power bill. Preventing heat loss can save us hundreds of dollars a year as it prevents us from paying the costs of reheating our home. Making sure our home has ceiling insulation, wall insulation and a ground moisture barrier can help keep the heat in, and the cold and moisture out. From 1 July 2019, insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes. There are available subsidies and grants for low-income homeowners to have the costs of having their household insulated, reduced by 67 – 100%. Go to https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/insulation/ to find out more. As well as insulation, we should take notice of any small cracks or gaps that let heat escape our homes. Even the tiniest crack in a window sill or doorway can cause large amounts of heat to escape the household. Applying sealant over these small cracks and gaps will help better insulate our home and make sure that we aren’t blowing money on constant reheating.

Time Our Use

We live in an extraordinary time in modern society as we are ever so lucky to be gifted with the gift that keeps on giving, automatic appliance timers. Setting our heat pump to turn on half an hour before we get up and half an hour after we go to bed can help save us wasting power overnight. The same can be done if we have a large water heater, we can get a timer set up, so the heater only goes during the time frame that we are home. We shouldn’t waste power on appliances that we are not using. The same goes for leaving our appliances on standby when we aren’t using them. New Zealand households waste around $200 a year by leaving our electronic devices on standby. Switching our TVs, toasters, computers, jugs and chargers etc. off at the wall once we are done with them, can save us from wasting money on power we aren’t using.

Wrap Up Before Turning on the Heat

This is one we have probably all heard before, but it is funny how some of us still don’t do it. If we are cold, we should put on more layers of clothing before we turn on the heat. How many times have we gotten home from work, turned on the heat pump and then gotten changed into something more comfortable like a t-shirt and shorts? It’s our home, and it’s understandable that we want to feel comfortable, but we should opt for a jersey and pants before we start paying for our heating. It’s a classic sight to see everyone at student flats putting on beanies and blankets before touching the heat pump remote. Layering up is an easy and effective way to keep warm and save money on power, we all have heaps of clothes, just gives us an excuse to wear them.
Wrapping up before turning on the heat also applies during bed time too. We should put on more covers or get ourselves a wheatie (hottie or wheat bag, they have a few names) before we reach for that electric blanket dial.

Alternative Cooking Methods

When dinner time rolls around, our go to cooking method is usually the oven or range. Gas powered cooking tops can be quite costly if they are constantly used, that is why we should opt for more energy efficient alternatives such as crock-pots, microwaves or toasters. These cooking alternatives don’t use as much power to run. Crock-pots operate on low cooking temperatures that keep the heat in, and both toasters and microwaves run on lower a wattage than a conventional gas oven and range. Although not all food can be cooked in a microwave or crock-pot, it might help us save a bit of coin if we consider this option for some of our meals. We should also take into account the energy used when freezing and keeping our food fresh too. If our refrigerators or freezers are in a warm place, then they will use more power to keep the food at the temperature we have it set at. If we need a second fridge or freezer in our homes, we should have them located in a cold place such as a garage. Storing our fridge/freezer in a cold place will reduce the cost of running a second fridge/freezer substantially.

Check Our Appliance Settings

When washing our clothes, do we set the washer on cold or hot? When turning on the heat pump, do we have it set to 18 degrees or 26 degrees? These differences in appliance use can add up over time as some options are not as energy efficient as the others. Washing our clothes on hot or blasting the heat pump at a higher temperature just to try to get it to heat up faster, can add on extra power costs that we do not need.
The same can be said for our water pressure in both our taps and showers. We ideally want a water flow rate of 8 litres per minute from a shower and 6 litres per minute from a tap. If our water pressure flow rate exceeds the 8 or 6 litres per minute threshold, then we should look into altering our water pressure. To check, we need to place a bucket under our tap or shower and turn it on full for 15 seconds to fill the bucket. Once done, weigh the bucket and times it by four to check how many litres per minute the pressure produced. Altering our water pressure and making sure we have the right shower head or tap faucet, can save us hundreds of dollars a year on our power bill. We recommend checking out Smarter Home’s Efficient Water Use Smart Guide, to read more on how to save money here.

Switch it up

There are numerous power companies out there, all competing to get us to sign with them. All with different rates, bonuses and offers, these power companies want you to make the switch to them, so it isn’t difficult to find one that works for us. Compare the different electric companies and find one that suits our lifestyle. Some offer free power hours, some offer combined internet packages, and others have cheaper peak rates, meaning you can save money by getting everything done at the particular time of day that the peak time is offered.
We recommend checking out www.powerswitch.org.nz, they offer a great service and allow you to compare the prices of different companies efficiently and effectively.
We can also try switching up our appliances and light bulbs in the household for more energy efficient ones. We should check the energy rating on our appliances before we buy them, constant use of a one-star energy rated washing machine and dryer could rack up a hefty additional cost on to our power bill. Same goes with our lighting, opting for energy efficient LED light bulbs can reduce our electricity usage by up to 85% when compared to standard incandescent bulbs. LED light bulbs can also last up to 15 times longer, meaning that over their lifetime, we can expect a significant return on investment. So there we have it, seven power saving tips to help keep the bills down this winter. We hope you have learnt a few things and can find an extra way or two to keep your energy costs down. If you wish to see other handy tips and tricks to keep yourself under budget and free up your finances, then you should check out our blogs page for more information.

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