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9 simple ways to avoid a high electric bill this winter

Winter came early this year, and it’s expected to be wetter and colder than average across most of Australia. Up to 70cm of snow piled on the Australian Alps in the first week of May with freezing temperatures hitting the peaks earlier than usual. The colder weather sure makes bunkering down and staying in easier, but heating is also likely to run up your electric bill.

While winter energy bills may be lower than your summer ones, they can still eat up a significant portion of your household expenses. Here are 9 simple ways to reduce your energy costs while keeping you and your family warm.

1. Use the power of the sun

Open your curtains and blinds when the sun is out. Allowing the sunlight into your home will help raise the temperature by a couple of degrees. When the evening chill returns, close your curtains in the evening to trap the heat absorbed during the day. Consider thick heavy curtains or drapes for added insulation.

2. Use fans to distribute heat

Make use of reversible ceiling fans to help warm your house. During the summer, ceiling fans are used to push the air down to create a breeze. In winter, you can turn them clockwise so they draw the air up from the ground and move the warm air off at the ceiling level, boosting the effectiveness of your heating system.

3. Set the right temperature

Avoid high electric bills by keeping your home’s temperature to between 18 and 20°C. Setting your thermostat a couple of degrees cooler while you’re asleep or out of the house will also help you lower your energy consumption. Every degree lower you set your heating to helps you save up to 10% in your energy use.

If possible, get a smart or programmable thermostat so it’s easier for you to make the adjustments. You can set temperatures based on different times of the day or week so you can find the right balance between comfort and saving energy.

4. Maintain your HVAC system

Schedule a regular service to ensure your furnaces and heat pumps are running at peak performance. Check your filters once a month and change them if dirty to maintain proper airflow at all times. Preventive maintenance will help keep your heating systems running efficiently and prevent you from paying more than you need to on your energy bills.

If your heating or cooling systems are more than 10 years old, consider replacing them with Energy Star rated equipment which are 15% more efficient than standard models.

5. Seal any leaks

Have a professional inspect your air ducts to ensure that there are no leaks or holes in them. According to Energy Star, leaks and poorly connected ducts cause the loss of 20% to 30% of the air that moves through the duct system, which results in higher energy bills. It also makes heating or cooling rooms more difficult no matter the temperature you set your thermostat to.

Windows and doors can also account for the heat lost at home. Check for gaps and cracks around your door frames and windows, and caulk or weather-strip them to prevent the warm air from escaping. Remember, saving warm air means you will be using less energy to heat your homes helping you avoid high electric bills.

6. Don’t block the vents

Another simple way to avoid a high electric bill is to make sure that you get any furniture out of the way of your heaters and vents. Having a sofa or bed blocking your baseboard heaters or radiators will restrict the airflow causing your heating systems to function inefficiently. Not only will they absorb the air that’s supposed to warm you up but they can also create a fire hazard.

Different heaters have different spacing requirements so make sure to check and follow the instructions of your heater models.

7. Rug up

Stay warm by wearing sweaters and warm socks around the house. Place a soft thick blanket or comforter on the couch so you can snuggle up while watching TV or reading. Warming your body means you don’t have to rely solely on your heating system. You can then keep the temperature around your house lower and save on your energy consumption.

Electric blankets or heated throw rugs are also great to stay toasty warm during the winter. It’s a low-cost personal heating option to minimise the need to run heaters in your rooms.

8. Air dry your clothes

Instead of using more energy by putting wet washing in the tumble dryer, you can opt to hang them in a warmer room. Air-drying will spare your electric bill an extra day cycle and will add shelf life to your favourite clothes!

Should you need to use the tumble dryer during these cooler months, make sure to wring your clothes thoroughly first to save on drying time.

9. Practice energy-saving habits

Sometimes the way to save on energy is as simple as turning things off and unplugging unused electronics. Appliances left on standby mode can still consume energy and add up to your electric bill, potentially costing you over $100 per year.

You can also opt to do our chores at night such as ironing and laundry during peak periods when wholesale energy spot prices are higher. Doing so will allow you to save money while still consuming the same amount of electricity.

The colder season has the potential to increase your household’s energy consumption. However, by following these energy-saving tips, you’ll be able to avoid high electric bills these coming winter months without sacrificing your comfort at home.

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