Winter is upon us and everyone’s power bills are skyrocketing. Most of us experience a peak in power expenditure during the months of June, July, August and September, so it is timely to look at how we can save money on our power bill.

Keep in mind that the biggest power users in the average New Zealand house are: 42% hot water, 25% lights / appliances, 18% heating, and 15% cooking. This is an average across the year – during winter the domestic heating percentage grows dramatically.

Here are some no, or low cost, tips or strategies to quickly reduce your monthly power bill:

  • Draw your curtains at sunset, in order to keep the warmth from the sun trapped in your house.
  • Fit stick-on draught strips around your doors and windows, and lay draught excluders at the bottom of external doors to keep cold breezes out.
  • Turn out lights when you are not in a room – you only need lights on where you are active / present.
  • Take short showers and do not use the bath – one of the greatest users of electricity is hot water.
  • Put on warm clothes before you switch on the heater – socks, slippers, warm pants (not jeans!), and a polar fleece top or jumper work wonders.
  • At night wear warm pyjamas and pile on plenty of quilts or blankets rather than running electric blankets or heaters. A hot water bottle works like a charm!
  • When cooking try and use faster, cheaper methods such as stir frying, or using a crockpot or microwave. Heating up a large oven for a small dinner will use a lot of electricity.
  • Avoid using your clothes dryer whenever possible – if you can hang washing in a garage or carport, or inside on a clothes horse and then finish them off in your hot water cupboard, you will save a lot of money.
  • Replace your most used light bulbs with the new energy efficient ecobulbs.
  • Turn off unused appliances at the wall – TVs, computers, stereos, playstations and x-boxes can use more than $100 a year on stand-by mode.

There are lots more steps you can take to save power, such as installing a heat pump, which is incredibly energy efficient but has a high upfront cost. We recommend that you check out www.energywise.govt.nz or www.mercury.co.nz for more ideas. You can also phone 0800 388 588 for independent energy advice from the NZ Home Energy Advice Centre.

We also strongly recommend that you visit www.consumer.org.nz/powerswitch to find the cheapest electricity provider for your region and your level of usage.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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