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How to work from home without running up a huge power bill

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Even before COVID-19, energy bills could deliver an unpleasant shock.

Now, as we're called to move our working and personal lives inside, bill shock is about to get real for the unprepared.

Seasonal fluctuations due to heating and cooling are normal, and we are moving into colder, darker times (physically and metaphorically).

coronavirus working from home electricity gas bill

But our homes are also powered-up 24/7 now without the pre-pandemic break they got while we were at work. (Remember when we actually used to go out?)

So here are my hot tips for keeping your energy bill under control (even if your snacking and personal hygiene habits go into free fall.)

1. Do your research

This is the best, most comprehensive list I've ever seen for reducing energy bills. They range from free to requiring some investment. Some are even funny.

2. Improve your home's energy efficiency and insulation

We are always banging on about insulating your floors, walls and ceilings. If you have money to spend, this can reduce, if not eliminate your heating and cooling bills.

If you don't have cash to splash, plug drafts with door-snakes, seal gaps around doors and windows and close doors. Using natural breezes in summer, and jumpers and beanies in winter can reduce need for cooling and heating.

3. Be smart with lighting

Choose the spot with the most natural light to work from if you can.

If you haven't swapped your halogen bulbs to LEDs yet, do it. This can reduce your lighting energy bill by up to 80%

4. Adopt the Wim Hof shower (for anyone still showering these days)

Yep, the likelihood of me converting you on this one is low...but here goes.

My tennis teacher told14-year-old me that for good health and immunity, I should:

a. wear a silk scarf around the neck in winter

b. finish showers with cold water.

The scarf wasn't my look, but I have finished with a cold shower every day of my life since.

Recently, I've ramped it right up, going full Wim Hoff (a Dutch athlete seemingly immune to freezing temperatures). I have my whole shower cold. No money is wasted heating water in my house! It's also great for immunity right now, and we all need more immunity.

5. Drop the temperature

I had a plumber drop the heat of my hot water system to the temperature I'd want for a shower or bath.

(Note: the Australian government advises that the temperature of your booster thermostat should be set to above 60C to prevent the growth of harmful Legionella bacteria.)

What's the point of paying to heat our water so hot that we have to cool it down to use it? Dumb waste.

coronavirus working from home energy bills

6. Measure to manage

Home energy meters and monitors attached to your smart meter monitor your hourly, daily and monthly electricity usage.

For real-time energy tracking, this is the bomb. You can't manage what you don't measure. Take control by knowing what's going down

7. Know your guzzlers

Portable blower heaters, the kettle and hair dryer are energy guzzlers. Throw Ugg boots on your hoofs, boil water on the stove and wear a cap for your Zoom meetings.

Clothes dryers are also harsh on our clothes and cost a bomb. I've never owned one - I love my clothes line and indoor ceiling airer.

The average Aussie home spends more than $2000 a year on gas and electricity. That's $2000 k you could be spending on much more interesting things. Check out The Energy-Freedom Home book to eliminate these bills and make your home healthier and more comfortable

For more ideas on how we can look after our people and our planet, sign up (it's free) to join our movement and help create a better world at thenewjoneses.com.

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.

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Tamara DiMattina studied public relations at RMIT and went on to establish Trumpet PR + Marketing, a communications business focused on strengthening communities through positive behaviour change. She is the founder of Buy Nothing New Month, a campaign for conscientious consumption, and The New Joneses, a living pop-up installation embodying stylish, waste-free, conscious living.
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