8 life hacks for saving money on your power bill this winter
The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and if you’re anything like us, you're probably curled up on the couch with a hot water bottle, reminiscing about those beautiful summer days you took for granted just a few short months ago.
Energy bills tend to increase over winter as families across the country crank up their heaters and go into hibernation mode. However, with a bit of planning, it is possible to keep your power bill in check this winter. Here’s how.
1. Keep your home dry
You might be surprised to learn that the average New Zealand household produces about eight litres of moisture every day from regular activities such as showering and cooking. This tends to be a bigger problem in winter, when the wet weather makes our homes even damper.
The more moisture that’s in the air, the more expensive it is to heat your home. This means that one of the best ways to heat your home more efficiently over winter is to keep your home dry.
Open your curtains during the day to let in some warmth, open doors and windows to air out your home and wipe away any condensation that forms on your windows or walls. Avoid drying clothes indoors as this creates more moisture in the air.
2. Turn off your appliances when you’re not using them
Regardless of the season, one of the simplest ways to reduce power consumption is to turn your appliances off at the wall.
Most devices - including your TV, gaming consoles, printer and just about every other gadget in your home - don’t switch off completely when you power them down. Instead, they enter standby mode, an operational mode that requires a small amount of electricity.
As a nation, New Zealand wastes about $100 million on standby power every single year. You can save about $100 annually by turning off your appliances at the wall when you’re not using them.
3. Wash your clothes in cold water
There’s a long-standing belief that you have to wash your clothes in warm water in order to kill the bacteria in the fabric.
While that might have been true in the past, advances in both washing machines and laundry detergents have made cold water washes more or less as effective as warm water washes. In fact, cold water is actually better at removing some types of soiling, such as sweat.
The icing on the cake is that doing your laundry in cold water is much more efficient than using warm water. According to Energywise, a warm water cycle can use up to 10 times as much energy as a cold wash, and costs about 40 cents more per load.
4. Be smart with your dryer
Gloomy weather can wreak havoc on your laundry schedule but remember that relying on your clothes dryer can be expensive. Clothes dryers are one of the most energy-hungry household appliances and typically use about $1 of electricity per load.
Reduce laundry costs by always air drying your clothes and avoiding the dryer unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do have to use the dryer, try to remove as much moisture from your clothes as possible (either by air drying them first or using your washing machine’s spin cycle) before putting them in the dryer. Remember to regularly clean the lint filter, as this will allow your dryer to work more efficiently.
5. Use heaters sparingly
While it’s true that most types of household heaters are gradually becoming more energy efficient, heating still accounts for about 30 percent of the average Kiwi power bill. With this in mind, have a think about how you can use your heating appliances more efficiently over winter.
For instance, popping on some warmer clothes and turning your heater down a notch or two can help reduce your power consumption significantly. In addition, limiting your use of electric blankets and heated towel rails can also help you save on power without having a major impact on your day to day life.
6. Use your heat pumps efficiently
About 1 in 4 New Zealand homes now use heat pumps. While heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating, some models are notably more energy-intensive than others. The good news is there are a number of things you can do to help your heat pumps function more efficiently and keep your power bill down over winter.
- Only turn your heat pump on when you actually need it and never leave it switched on when you leave the house.
- Avoid using “Auto” mode. This setting requires more power than other heating modes as it makes the heat pump continuously switch between heating and cooling to maintain a steady temperature.
- Remember to regularly clean the filters of your heat pumps. Over time, dust, dirt and other pollutants can accumulate in your filters and affect the efficiency of your heat pumps.
7. Run appliances at night
Some electricity companies offer cheaper electricity rates during the night, when the demand for electricity is typically far lower than it is in daylight hours.
If your power company offers discounted off-peak rates, you may be able to save money by waiting until the sun goes down to run your most power-hungry appliances, such as the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher. Here at Pulse Energy, depending on the tariff on your meter, you can have day and night rates. The tariff is usually set up by an electrician, but it can also be changed by us for a fee.
8. Check if you’re eligible for the Warmer Kiwi Homes grant
To help offset some of the costs involved with creating warmer, healthier homes, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is offering Warmer Kiwi Homes grants.
The four-year government programme helps cover two-thirds of the cost of a heat pump, pellet burner or wood burner (up to a maximum of $2,500), as well as underfloor and ceiling insulation. Use the Warmer Kiwi Homes tool to find out if you’re eligible for the grant.
Stay warm this winter
Want to keep warm this winter without spending an arm and a leg? With competitive prices and an unrivalled commitment to customer service, Pulse Energy is your number one choice when it comes to low-cost electricity in New Zealand.