How to stop your power bill from heating up this summer


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Nearly 20 years ago, I started choosing second hand first. Back then (nearly 10 years before I started Buy Nothing New Month) I did it to save money, not our planet.

It wasn't until way later I connected the dots:

By saving money on stuff I didn't need, I had money for the things I did.

power bills

As if preserving our precious planet (or home as we like to call it) isn't incentive enough, cutting the waste puts pennies in our pockets!

Or as Grandma Prendergast used to say "a dollar saved is a dollar made".

So to help y'all make some coin by saving some energy this summer, here are some of my top low-tech energy hacks.

Change your habits

One of the most effective ways to reduce your power bill is to review your energy plan and provider (the New Joneses switched to Momentum Energy, as they're owned by Australia's largest generator of renewable energy).

Unless you're using the whole house, there's no need to heat or cool every room. Close internal doors (and use snakes or towels to block draughts under doors) so you're only regulating the temperature in the spaces you're using.

Watch those windows! In some climates, they can allow up to 40% of your heating or cooling energy to escape. Use double-glazing, window tints, blinds and curtains to help prevent hot or cool air from sneaking out the window.

Your fridge runs all day, every day, making it one of the more expensive appliances to run. So make sure the door seal is tight and has no gaps.

A well-ventilated fridge uses less energy, so don't butt it up against the wall. Make sure there's around 5cm between the condenser and the wall, and that there's free space above your fridge.

Wait until your dishwasher is full before turning it on.

And only fill the kettle with the level of the water you'll use right away. Otherwise you'll waste energy heating it, just to let it go cold.

Make your home more efficient

On the top floor of my apartment, my bedroom was unlivable during a heat wave. I'd break a sweat climbing the stairs to bed. I often slept downstairs on a mattress on my kitchen floor.

I heard solar reflective paint applied to my roof could reduce the temperature by a pretty stunning 5-8 degrees.

Whilst I was dubious about this magical paint from unicorn land, the difference has been incredible.

I also installed a ceiling fan, which makes me feels like I'm on holiday and is a fabulous low-tech hack for massive money savings.

Like most things, the higher the setting, the more energy they use. So a low setting uses less energy than "launching-helicopter" setting.

Keep in mind the fan's size has very little to do with its running cost.

While larger fans might require more electricity to spin, smaller fans will need to work harder in order to create the same airflow output. This means that both small and large fans consume approximately the same amount of electricity.

Whilst requiring expenditure, retrofitting like double glazing and insulating your floors, walls and ceiling can massively reduce cooling bills and massively increase your home's comfort.

I retrofitted double-glazing. The window was huge and the frames were aluminum, making it hot when hot and cold when cold. This retrofit transformed an almost unlivable room into a gorgeous, comfortable sanctuary that now requires no cooling in summer or heating in winter.

On really hot days, I pull the blinds down to keep more heat out.

power bill

You can literally stop money and hot water running down the drain. I always thought it was nuts we pay to heat water up, then it comes out of the shower or tap and we add cold water to cool it down. My plumber lowered the temperature the water is heated to and the cost to heat it. What a simple saving solution!

Always avoid using appliances that heat up your home during the day. Cooking with the stove and oven can increase the temperature of your house by several degrees. Use your grill or microwave instead.

Use your air-con more efficiently

Like with all appliances, I recommend buying the most energy efficient reverse cycle air con possible. Cheap at the cash register can mean expensive on the energy bills.

  • For maximum air con benefit, keep outside doors and windows closed.
  • Keep doors to unconditioned areas (eg laundries, bathrooms etc.) closed.
  • Always start the air conditioner early in the morning and keep the house/office cool. If you try and start the air conditioner in the afternoon when the house/office is already very hot, it may take a while to cool down.
  • Keep your air con serviced to keep it running properly, not labouring and therefore costing more.
  • Ensure your filter is clean. When filters accumulate dust they block up, reducing airflow and their cooling capacity.

Make the most of the heat

I'm finishing with my favourite low tech energy bill slasher: my ceiling airer.

I've never used a clothes dryer. This saves loads on my energy bill and is way kinder to my clothes - dryers can be harsh on clothing, reducing their lifespan. While I don't have a garden for a clothes line, I have high ceilings, making a ceiling airer a perfect all-weather drying solution.

I hang my clothes on my airer, then using a pulley system, I hoist the wet laundry up to the ceiling. Like magic, when I hoist it back down later, hey presto, thanks to hot air rising - everything is dry.

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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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