5 ways to avoid big winter power bills

From the cheapest heaters to a simple thermostat trick, here are 5 things you can do to keep your winter bills down.

Winter is coming, as the saying goes. And a recent 9Saver survey found that 36% of homes were reluctant to use the heater out of fear of big winter bills.

But there’s no need to freeze this June and July if you know a few tricks to cut back your winter bills.

1. Switch

The first thing to do is make sure you’re not paying too much for each Kilowatt-Hour of Electricity you use.

A household can save up to $1500 in SA, $1400 in NSW, $900 in SE QLD and over $1000 in Victoria by switching from the most expensive electricity plan to the cheapest.

That’s the estimate from the Australian Energy Regulator.

2. Minimise heating

Don’t go without heating altogether, but there’s no need to heat the whole house to 25 degrees all winter, so start with the thermostat on 20 or 21 and see how it feels.

Science suggests men are most comfortable at about 21 or 22 degrees and women at 23 or 24 degrees, but find your minimum comfortable temperature.

If possible, heat only the room you are in.

3. Insulate

It seems obvious but you need to trap heat in your home by blocking draughts around doors, windows and wall gaps (with doorsnakes for example) and insulating well with curtains and blinds.

4. Wash at night, with cold

Save about $260 a year on your bill by using your washing machine, dishwasher or heating in off-peak times and avoid the times when everyone else is using power. Washing your clothes in cold water can save a further $115 per year.

5. Heaters ain’t heaters

Heating can be a large proportion of the winter power bill and the heater you choose can make a big difference to that bill.

For example, those little electrical blow heaters and radiant bar heaters are an energy efficiency disaster. So are those oil heaters on a timer that heat the room whether you’re in it or not.

As a general rule, ghas heaters are cheaper to run but cost more to buy than electrical heaters.

See the estimates below of what each type of heater will cost over an entire winter.

Heater Type Winter Running Cost
Gas Heaters*
Convection (22MJ) $143.10
Radiant-convection (20MJ) $129.60
Electric Portable Heaters*
Fan heaters (2kW) $162.00
Panel and convection heaters (1.8kW) $145.80
Radiant bar heaters (2.3kW) $186.30
Oil-filled column heaters (1.7kW) $137.70
Tower heaters (2.2kW) $178.20
Reverse Cycle Air Con*
3.5kW(small area) $78.30
5.0kW(medium area) $124.20
9kW(large area) $210.60

* Calculations are by Canstar and assume electricity usage rate of 30c/kWh and natural gas usage rate of 2.4c/kWh on a single-rate energy tariff. Heaters used three hours per day for 90 days. These calculations are indicative only and may not be correct to your situation.

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