No one likes opening an energy bill and finding that the sum at the end is unusually hefty, particularly if it doesn’t feel like you’re being lavish with your use of gas or electricity.
Here are four simple but effective ways you may be able to lower your spending on energy – which could be handy as we come into winter and start to turn the heaters on!
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to slash the amount you’re spending on energy is to reduce your overall consumption. While this may sound obvious, small changes can add up if you ensure you make them consistently over a reasonable period.
Appliances can account for as much as 30 percent of your energy bill so one way to cut your household’s energy consumption is to switch to more energy efficient appliances. According to Sustainability Victoria, a fridge is the single biggest power consumer in most homes because it runs 24 hours a day – so if your fridge is not energy efficient, it could be having a huge impact on your power bill.
Of course, swapping an older but perfectly good fridge for an expensive new one isn’t always immediately feasible, but you can still save energy by ensuring your fridge is not set too high; 3ºC for the fresh food compartment and -18ºC for the freezer compartment is ideal. And when you do have the cash to upgrade your appliances, it’s worth thinking about two things.
Firstly, second-hand appliances may be cheaper at the time of purchase but are usually older and thus less energy efficient. Secondly, there are often rebates you can claim from various levels of government, which you can learn more about at energy.gov.au.
The easiest way to check the energy efficiency rating of your appliance is to look for an energy rating label on its front. The more stars that appear on this sticker, the more energy efficient the appliance is – and therefore the less it will cost you to run it.
Having all the mod-cons is great for saving time, but some of the traditional ways are better for saving money! For instance, clothes dryers are among the worst culprits when it comes to chewing up electricity. Simply making the most of good weather and hanging your laundry out to dry on the line or using indoor clothes drying racks in wet weather can be a real energy-saver. In fact, the Department of Environment and Energy says swapping the dryer for the clothes rack once a week could save you about $79 a year.
Instead of blasting the A/C in summer, try to keep things cool the old-school way: close windows, doors, curtains and blinds in summer to keep out the heat. In winter, instead of cranking up the heater, make sure you’re using draught excluders to prevent chilly breezes creeping under doors and use thicker bedding to keep warm in your sleep. The Australian Energy Regulator has loads of other energy-saving tips that you can use as the opportunity arises, like changing burnt out lightbulbs to LED lights.
Another way to reduce the amount of energy you use is to make sure that all of your devices have been switched off once you are finished using them rather than set to ‘sleep mode’, because sleep mode continues to use energy.
For instance, many people habitually power down their laptops by closing them after use. However, if your laptop is still plugged into a power source after you close it, it will continue to sap energy, so choosing the ‘shut down’ option and turning it off properly is more energy efficient. If you’re using your laptop on the go, shutting it down rather than just closing it has the benefit of running down your battery more slowly, meaning you have to recharge it less often.
It is also a good idea to make sure you switch household items off at the socket when they’re not in use, whether it’s the television, toaster or a lamp, as some keep using energy if you don’t.
Everyone loves a good deal, so why should it be any different when it comes to paying your utility bills? One of the best parts of getting older is getting a better deal on purchases, so see if you are eligible for a senior offer with an energy provider.
One Australian company that has these offers is AGL Energy, who have residential gas and electricity plans created specifically for over-60s. If you are a Seniors Card holder in a Western Australia suburb where AGL operates, their discounted seniors plan could save you an incredible 45 per cent off your gas usage charges for 12 months (discount does not apply to other charges, such as supply) – all you have to do is pay your bill on time. Plus, you’ll get the first month of gas free!
If you are a Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland resident living in a place where AGL operates, their AGL Seniors Plus plans for gas and electricity offer fixed usage rates for 24 months and no lock-in contracts. You will also get extra rewards like a $30 credit on your electricity plan, and a $25 credit on your gas plan, every six months over two years. To find out more, you can check out the plans’ basic information document here.
Lastly, if you become an AGL customer you will get access to AGL Rewards. This lets you enjoy discounts on movie tickets, groceries, fuel and popular restaurants. Eligible residential customers can even get flybuys points for paying your bills when you link your AGL and flybuys accounts – find out if you’re eligible here.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services advice.
AGL have special energy plans for seniors. There are no fees for paying your bills at Australia Post or for receiving paper bills. Plus, you benefit from 24/7 support via our dedicated seniors line and you receive access to AGL Rewards, so you can enjoy discounts on movie tickets, fuel, groceries and more.