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Cosy Not Costly

Don’t get burnt by hefty power bills this coming winter

13.03.2019

While some people look forward to winter so they can sit by a warm, crackling fire and dress in winter woollies, others dread the chilly weather and the inevitable spike in power bills.

According to Synergy’s Allen Gerber, there are some simple steps you can take to stay warm without sending your power bill soaring.

In Western Australia there are about 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, so making the most of the sun can help reduce your overall electricity consumption.

“Some people have found the answer is as simple as maximising natural light and drawing on the natural heat by opening any north-facing blinds or curtains to allow the morning sun into their homes,” Allen said.

“It’s the small, incremental changes to the way people use their energy that could make a difference to their bill.”

He says solar panels are an energy-efficient solution that many people are adopting.

“More than one in five WA households have installed solar PV for the home,” he says. “Synergy encourages people with solar to make the most of the clear days by using their electrical appliances between 10am and 2pm, to maximise the solar energy their panels produce – even in winter.”

One of the key contributors to increased energy use in winter is attributed to the frequent use of reverse-cycle air-conditioners, as well as a variety of cheaper electrical heating appliances, including ceramic and panel heaters, smaller fan heaters and even the more traditional oil heaters.

Increasing the temperature setting on your reverse-cycle air-conditioner, even by a few degrees, can translate to a big upsurge in power usage. The difference between setting it at 22C versus 26C can be hundreds of dollars in electricity over a year.

Allen says investing in energy-conserving window treatments can also help but it is important to thoroughly research the product and its best applications before proceeding. “People should do their research carefully to understand what treatments could work best for their home,” he says.

“Synergy has seen that up to 40 per cent of heat that escapes the home can be attributed to uncovered windows. By using window treatments such as heavy block curtains that extend below window frames helps insulate homes and retains more warm air. By simply shutting any doors to rooms that are not occupied will also keep more heat in.”

TOP SAVING TIPS:

  • Consider other options to warm up in the home before turning up the heating. Items such as heat packs, hot water bottles, fluffy dressing gowns, bed socks and electric or extra blankets are cost-effective alternatives to heating your bedroom overnight and will still allow for a cosy sleep. Woollen jumpers and sheepskin boots also tend to provide extra comfort and warmth when you’re in the home.
  • Take advantage of the clear winter days in Perth and dry your clothes outside instead of using a dryer, which can reduce your annual energy bill by up to $95 per year. Try washing your clothes in cold water to help reduce electricity use further.
  • Nothing says winter like a warm cup of tea or coffee. Always fill the kettle from the cold tap and be sure to only heat the amount of water you actually need, instead of boiling an entire jug for just one mug.
  • In winter you are far less likely to spend a day in the pool so running the pool pump for two hours less each day over a three-month period could help save up to $145 a year.

HOW TO WARM A HOUSE WITH REVERSE-CYCLE AIR-CONDITIONING:

  • Choose and maintain an even temperature throughout the house.
  • Heating can account for more than 30 per cent of household energy costs. So in winter, to help reduce bills, set the heating thermostat to a temperature between 18C and 20C. Every degree above 20C can add about 10 per cent to your heating bill.
  • If possible, use a programmable thermostat which switches on heating only when it is needed most.

Visit Synergy to find out more or see the showroom on the Ground Floor at Home Base.