10 free things you can do now
See how many of the top 10 your household can adopt.
1. Dress for the season
Put on some warmer clothes before you crank up the heating.
Each additional degree of heating adds between 5% and 10% to your energy use.
2. Shut the door on wasted energy
heating the entire house can waste a lot of money. Shut the door to areas you aren't using (like bathrooms and the laundry). Only heat the rooms you're using.
3. Turn it off
Turn off your heaters before going to bed and when you're leaving the house.
4. Let the sun shine in
Solar panels may not be suitable for every home and budget. But you could still be using the free power from the sun. Open your curtains when the sun is shining and close them when it’s getting dark.
5. Don't use the shower to warm up
Hot water accounts for about 25% of the average bill. Try to avoid the temptation of using the shower to get warm.
Aim for a 4 minute shower. Then stand under a heat lamp instead of under the hot water for longer. This uses up to 20 times less energy than staying under the shower. Even a few extra minutes in the shower will add to your power bill.
6. Shop around and switch to save
Don’t assume your existing energy provider is offering you the best deal available. Look at government price comparison websites to check which provider has the best rates. You can also contact your current provider to ask them if there’s a better deal they could put you on right away.
7. Include active transport choices
Swapping short car trips for walking or cycling can save money. It can also keep you fit during the winter months.
You’ll save on petrol, maintenance and the upfront cost of buying a car (or a second car).
8. Use a ‘solar’ clothes dryer
Clothes dryers are very convenient—but remember you're paying for this convenience. Try not to always put your clothes into the dryer. Use free energy from the sun and the wind to dry your clothes if you can.
If you don’t have a clothes line you can put clothes racks out in the sun and fresh air. Or you could dry clothes indoors on a rack when the heater is already on.
9. Turn off gadgets and appliances
Standby power uses up to 3% of the electricity used in your home. Any appliance with a little light on it is using energy even if you’re not using it. Turn off unused appliances at the wall.
10. Waste not, want not
In Australia we waste up to 30% of the food we buy. Food waste costs Australian households $2200 to $3800 a year.
This food ends up in land fill where it produces methane. This is a greenhouse gas that is particularly damaging to the environment.
Much of the food waste comes from poor planning. Use shopping lists. Check your pantry and fridge before heading to the shops.
5 cost-effective things you can do this winter
1. Keep the heat you're paying for inside your home
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest ways to keep your home warm. Doing it well can save you up to 25% on your heating bills.
Install brush-strip seals for under the doors, or draught-proofing strips.
Block the gaps around internal doors too. Draught-proof rooms you're not heating, such as laundries and bathrooms.
2. Windows of opportunity
Windows can leak as much as 40%.
Investing in quality curtains and blinds can make a surprising difference to your home’s warmth. Look for fabrics that insulate well, or curtains with thermal lining.
Fitted pelmets (curtain boxes) above curtains also reduce heat loss. You could instead hang curtains that reach from the ceiling to the floor. A low cost option is to fit a strip of light timber across your curtain rail.
Installing an additional layer of glazing on windows and skylights will increase energy efficiency. This traps a layer of air and helps keep the winter chills at bay. This also helps reduce outside noise. Double-glazed windows can be expensive to retrofit (see below).
There are cheaper options like products with a thin plastic coating that fit over windows.
3. Set your thermostat
You can save money by having a programmable thermostat. Keep the internal temperature set to between 18°C and 20°C.
Every degree you increase your heating can add up to 10% on your energy use.
Set your thermostat to warm your house for times you need it. Turn it off overnight and when you’re away from home.
4. Install a water-efficient showerhead
Hot water accounts for a large chunk of your power bill. A water-efficient showerhead is one of the most cost-effective ways to save. They are also quite easy to install.
5. Insulate your roof
Up to 45% of the energy that heats our homes leaks out through ceilings and roofs.
Talk to an expert to find out what's best for your home and its climate. It's important to safely install insulation that meets Australian standards.
5 longer term investments to consider
1. Insulate floors and walls, and rug up floors
You could be save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills if you insulate your walls. Floor insulation can save you an additional 5%.
Get expert advice when looking into wall and underfloor insulation.
Warm rugs and thick carpet underfoot will also make a difference to comfort levels.
2. Double glaze windows
If you've got money to invest then laminating or double glazing windows could be for you. Double glazing can be especially useful for windows that you can't easily cover with insulating blinds or curtains.
Lower cost options for windows include laminating products that you can attach to your existing windows. This option and the curtain ideas listed above will all make a noticeable difference to your comfort levels. Double glazing can further reduce your heating and cooling requirements.
Do some research online first. This will help you to choose a builder or window supplier who knows what they're selling.
3. Reconsider your second car
Are you thinking about buying a second car? Perhaps you've done the sums and are considering the benefits of getting rid of an unnecessary second car?
If you can do without a second car you're likely to save thousands of dollars each year. You could avoid registration, insurance, loans and running costs. The money you save could cover occasional trips by taxi when needed.
Even if you have a car, you don't have to use it all the time. Walking and cycling is good for your wallet, your health and for the environment.
Choosing a fuel-efficient new or second-hand car is a good financial decision. It can save you thousands of dollars in fuel costs. It will also reduce the pollution generated as you drive it.
All new light motor vehicles sold in Australia have to display a Fuel Consumption Label. The label is on cars, 4WDs, SUVs and light commercial vehicles. It helps you understand the running costs and environmental impacts of your new car. Fuel consumption information is also available for many cars made before 2004.
4. Install solar power
Installing solar PV panels is a great way of capturing the sun's energy to generate electricity at home.
Solar power systems will help reduce your electricity bills as well as your impact on the environment. They are low-maintenance and can also increase the value of your home.
Solar power can be connected to the mains electricity grid. It can also be set up as a stand-alone system where electricity is stored in batteries.
If you install a solar power system at home, you could receive incentives called Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). You may also be able to sell the excess electricity you generate to electricity suppliers under a feed-in tariff.
5. Be energy efficient when you buy, build or renovate
If you're buying or building a home or renovating, consider increasing its energy efficiency.
Building and renovating is an exciting time. It can also be complex and stressful with all sorts of decisions to make. You will need to decide the design of the home or extension. Chose how you insulate, heat and cool your space. Purchase new energy efficient appliances. Your choices can improve comfort levels and cut your heating, cooling and water costs for many years to come.
There are many experts who can give you advice on home energy efficiency and help with your planning. They can save you money and bother over the longer term.
Be bushfire ready
A tidy-up to maintain your home's exterior and the health of your garden is always a good idea. Peak fire season varies depending on where you live in Australia. Check with the Bureau of Meteorology to find out when the fire risk is highest in your area.
Keep garden waste from seasonal pruning away from the house. You can take it to green waste drop-off centres. Clean your gutters and remove storm and fire hazards to ensure you are bushfire ready.