Stay cool and save money this summer with these clever ideas for cutting your power bill.
#1: Ensure your air con is ‘working smarter, not harder’
Resist the temptation to turn your air con on full-boar, in the hope that it’ll cool the room down faster. (All that does is chew up electricity!) Instead, set your air conditioner to around 25°C with a moderate fan speed. Slow and steady wins the race when cooling your home affordably.
#2: Stop the leaks and block out the heat
Be on the lookout for places where cold air can escape from your air conditioned room, like under doorways and via open windows. Place a rolled-up towel along the bottom of the door to keep the cold air in. Make sure all your windows are fully closed and draw your curtains or blinds to dramatically reduce the amount of heat entering the room from outside.
#3: Fans are your friend
Before you reach for the air con remote, consider switching a fan on instead. Fans are much more energy efficient than air conditioners, yet they can can be highly effective at cooling you down on a hot day. By keeping your fan blades free of dust, they'll be more aerodynamic and require less power to run. Bonus points if you remember to switch the fan off as you leave the room.
#4: Look after your air con and it will look after you
In the same way that you take care of your car by servicing it regularly, your air conditioner will perform better if it is serviced regularly too. Refrigeration mechanics use high pressure cleaners to remove mould, bacteria and other build-up from your air conditioner filters. If left unserviced, your air conditioner has to work a lot harder to cool your home, chewing up extra kilowatts along the way.
#5: Make the most of long summer days
Summer means longer days as the sun sets later in the evening compared with winter. Instead of sweltering inside around the dining table, head outside for a twilight picnic. Barbequing outside means you won't be heating up the kitchen with a hot oven or stove top. Spending time outside also allows you to save electricity by turning off the television, the computer and any unused lights inside. Make the most of this quality time with your loved ones by throwing a ball around with the kids or catching up on the day's events over a cold drink.
#6: Add whimsy to your garden at night
While you're enjoying an evening outdoors, imagine the ambiance that solar powered lanterns would add to your backyard, around the pool, strung from the trees and lighting the garden path. These lighting solutions cost nothing to run as they are powered by energy from the sun captured earlier in the day.
#7: Run your pool pump as efficiently as possible
Pool pumps have come a long way when it comes to energy efficiency. Most have the option of working off a timer, enabling them to run at cheaper times of the day, when electricity prices are lower. Some also feature energy saving modes, which use much less electricity than old-school pool pumps. While they may cost more upfront than conventional pumps, they'll save you hundreds of dollars in electricity costs in the long run.
#8: Flick the switch
It takes less than a second and requires minimal effort but in our busy lives it's easy to become lazy. Stop and think about all the electrical appliances in your home that are plugged in but aren't currently in use. Even in standby mode, TVs, washing machines, clothes dryers, kettles, computers, gaming consoles and phone chargers all consume electricity. Switch them off at the wall to stop this trickle of electricity from increasing your next power bill unnecessarily.
#9: Aim for the stars
When shopping around for new appliances, don't just look for cool features and on-trend styling. Make sure you check the energy efficiency star-rating on each appliance and use this to guide your purchase decision. While a washing machine with a lower star-rating may have a cheaper price tag than one with a higher star-rating, it's likely to cost you a lot more in electricity usage over the life of the appliance.
#10: Give your refrigerator some TLC
Left to its own devices, your fridge can be one of the biggest drains on your power bill. It's switched on 24/7, 365 days of the year. Make sure it's not costing you more than absolutely necessary by giving it some love this summer. If the seals have started to perish, replace them. If the top and back of your fridge are dusty, give them a vacuum. If the freezer is all iced up, defrost it. For optimum energy efficiency, set the temperature on your fridge to around 3-5°C and your freezer to around -18°C. And finally, if you can bring yourself to turn that old beer fridge off, you could save hundreds of dollars in electricity each year.
#11: Thaw meats the safe way
Save yourself from contracting food poisoning while saving money at the same time by thawing frozen meat in the fridge instead of in the microwave. Yes, you need to plan ahead. Yes, it takes longer. But by thawing meat in the fridge overnight it will defrost more consistently, as opposed to being partially cooked on the outside and still frozen in the middle. Plus, you won't be chewing up additional power by running your microwave unnecessarily.
#12: Clean filters = less work for your appliances
We've already recommended you give your air con filters a clean this summer. The same goes for the filters on your dishwasher and washing machine. By keeping your appliances clean, they don't have to work as hard and therefore they consume less energy. While you're at it, consider switching your dishwasher and washing machine to run exclusively on cold water. Doing so will save on water heating costs. Running these appliances only when you have enough dirty dishes or dirty clothes for a full load will also save you money on your electricity bill.
#13: Dry your wet washing for free
Speaking of dirty clothes, make the most of these bright, sunny days by drying your clothes on the washing line instead of in the clothes dryer. Not only will you dramatically reduce your energy consumption, but your washing will also receive a free dose of stain-removing, bacteria-killing sunlight.
#14: Heat your water for less
In the heat of summer there's no need for your water heater to be producing scorching hot water. (Who needs a hot shower at this time of year anyway!?!) Consider installing a tempering valve which limits the water temperature to your fixtures to 50 degrees. As most people shower between 38-41 degrees, there is still plenty of hot water available for steamy hot showers.
#15: Enjoy the benefits of solar hot water
Save money on your power bills by installing a solar hot water system. Why pay for electricity to heat your water when a solar hot water system can do it for free? You can even set the timer and thermostat on your solar hot water system to heat your water at off peak times, when electricity prices are cheaper.
#16: Save money by harnessing the power of the sun
One of the most effective methods of reducing your power bill this summer is to reduce your dependence on electricity suppliers and start using solar energy to power your home. By installing solar panels on your roof, you're making an investment in your financial future, potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars over the coming years.
#17: Take control of your energy consumption with battery technology
If you're already a solar power convert, have you considered adding batteries to your system, to achieve even greater control over your energy consumption? By embracing battery technology you can can store the electricity that your solar panels produce instead of sending it to the grid. You can then use the electricity you have stored in your batteries later in the evening and during peak times when it costs more to buy power from the grid. Summer is an ideal time to add battery storage to your solar power system, when your solar panels are most productive.