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How to lower your power bill this winter

Happy cat in a warm home
Monday, June 22, 2020

Keeping your power bill down during winter can be a challenge in New Zealand.  In fact, depending on where you live and how you heat your home, some Kiwi homes will see their power use more than double.

Here are some small changes you can make in your day-to-day life to cut the amount of power you use in your home. Plus, one change that almost every home in New Zealand could make to save them an estimated $372 million per year, read on to find out what!

1. Make a family plan

It’s much easier to reduce the amount of electricity you use to heat your home if you have a plan. Sit down with your family or flatmates to have a chat – try to think about which rooms you need to heat, which you don’t, and make sure everyone knows to keep internal doors shut. Try to come to an agreement about the best thermostat settings, what times you’ll be in to need a warm home, or whether everyone just needs to invest in some woolly socks and fleecy jumpers! A bit of planning and a few small changes can all add up to big savings on your electricity bill over the winter.

2. Check whether you qualify for the Winter Energy Payment

Many of us are facing a tough time financially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. If your employment situation has changed over recent months, there may support available from the government. For example, the Winter Energy Payment was doubled this year to make sure New Zealand’s most vulnerable people can still heat their home this winter.

3. Check your meter

During the lockdown period Electricity Meters weren’t being read. So if you have an older-style electricity or gas meter your bill is likely to be estimated during the lockdown months. Check your own meter and contact your power provider with your meter reading to discuss how accurate the bill is.

4. Research your heating options and choose the best option for you

The typical New Zealand home spends 14% of their power on heating. A key way to take control of your spending on power is to make a family plan, consider how you use each room, and compare the costs of different heaters to choose the most efficient type of heat.  

For larger rooms that you use regularly, it may be worth paying the upfront cost to install a fixed heater with lower running costs. Electric heaters will be better for smaller rooms or rooms you only want to heat occasionally.  Be strategic and only heat the rooms you are in.

5.  Check that your home is keeping the heat in

  • Check your insulation - Good quality insulation keeps your home warm in winter and cool summer. This makes your home easier and cheaper to heat properly and more comfortable to live in. Prioritise wall and floor insulation, followed by walls. If you are a tenant in a rental property, your home is required to have ceiling and underfloor insulation.
  • Seal air leaks - A cold draught sneaking in under your door can create a real chill in winter. This can easily be fixed with a draught stopper, excluder or door snake. There are plenty of other ways a cold draught can get into your house. Check how well your windows and doors shut out the cold. Also check out:
    • Chimneys and fireplaces
    • attic hatches
    • where dryer vents pass through walls
    • fans or vents
    • pipes (for example under the sink)
    • cable TV and phone lines
    • electrical and gas service entrances
    • electrical outlets and switch plates
  • Install heavier curtains
    Large windows cool down fast when the temperature outside drops – so it’s worth investing in some floor length thermal curtains to stop the cold right there. Thermal curtains are most effective if they fall well below the window, preferably all the way to the floor. Another handy tip is to leave curtains open during the day to allow the warm sun to shine in, and shut the curtains when it starts to gets dark to trap the natural heat inside your house.

6. Get on top of your laundry

  • Make the change to a cold wash
    Changing from a hot wash to a cold wash could save around $65 per year. Switching to a cold wash won’t just save you money, it can make your clothes last longer. Cold water can be good for certain clothes, the lower temperature can stop your clothes from fading and preserve the fit of clothes by preventing shrinkage.
  • Use your dryer efficiently
    Every time you dry your laundry in the tumble dryer it costs around $1. This will quickly add up on your power bill over winter. The tumble dryer is definitely an important tool to keep your home warm and dry during winter, but try to be strategic about when you use it.
    • Dry your clothes on the line when you can, and finish drying them in the tumble dryer
    • Dry similar type of materials together, towels and hoodies are heavier and will take longer to dry than lighter items
    • Make sure your lint filter is cleaned after every load, this helps your dryer operate more efficiently

7. Turn Appliances off from standby

Unplug your electronic devices when not in use. Turning them off standy could save around $100 per year. This passive power use is also known as vampire power – for example phone chargers, TVs or microwaves that are constantly on slowly sucking up small amounts of power.

8. Have shorter showers

Shorter showers save a lot of energy, and showers use less hot water than baths. If you are trying to reduce your power bill, it may be worth limiting long hot baths to certain nights of the week. Having short showers can help save a family of four around $450 a year. Slowing the shower flow by not turning on the tap the whole way will also reduce the amount of water you use.

9. What is the key change every home could make to save an estimated $372 million per year? Compare the options and make an informed choice about power

According to the Electricity Authority Kiwi households could save an estimated $372 million a year if all households switched to the cheapest power deal available to them. So, take a moment to compare power plans to compare the options and make an informed choice about power in your home.



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