How to lower your power bill (or even eliminate it)
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Understand your electricity bill
Bills are no fun. They're confusing, and they’re not even very insightful in terms of saving money.
But they can give you a broad overview of your electricity usage and costs.
They are also a good reminder of the peak times and rates of your current plan.
Here are the important things to note on your bill:
- Have the rates increased?
- Are you using more or less energy than in the past? If so, is that because of the change in season? Is it being compared with the same time last year? If you're using more, why? There might be something around the house that has changed, or perhaps a major appliance needs maintenance, like the pool filter or air conditioner.
- Did you use a lot of electricity during peak times?
- If you have a solar rooftop system, did you get a good return for the energy you sent to the grid?
Make the switch: compare electricity plans
As the former head of the energy regulator has described, it can be daunting for many consumers to change their plan. Many consumers stick to the same electricity and gas retailers because they are just not sure.
Making the switch can be confusing - but it is worth it. According to the ACCC, a typical household on a standard energy offer can save around 20% (!) on their energy bill by switching to a low-price offer.
So, the best way to start saving on your electricity bill is to switch to a better plan.
At Solar Analytics, we know how hard this can be, and we're focusing on making it easier so that you can get the best deal. That’s why we’ve developed this free plan comparison tool to help you find the best electricity plan in seconds, based on your energy usage profile.
When you have identified a new plan you’d like to switch to, see if you can find something called the Basic Plan Information Document and check:
- Are there any disconnection fees?
- Can prices change on the new plan?
- Are there flexible payment options?
- What are the cooling-off conditions (in case you change your mind)
Whether you have rooftop solar or not, choosing the best plan for your energy usage can make a huge difference.
Check out our further tips on making the switch here.
Change it up
It's time to do things differently!
Here are our top tips to go one step further and save more on your electricity bills:
Install (more) rooftop solar
Having solar panels on your roof is a great way to gain independence from rising electricity prices.
Our careful analysis of 31,000 solar customers across Australia has determined that the optimal size solar system for every home is…as much as you can fit on the roof (yes, even the south side, except in Tasmania)! More solar equals lower electricity bills, or in many cases your electricity retailer will pay you! Now that’s what we call energy freedom.
The simplest way to install or add more solar to your roof is to head over to Solar Quotes and get three quotes from vetted and trusted solar retailers.
The second way to reduce the total on your high energy bills may be to electrify your gas appliances, especially your hot water.
With the recent advances in heat pump technology, this is often a cleaner and much cheaper way of providing you with year-round piping hot water.
We haven’t yet found a reliable source for heat pump quotes, so you’ll need to contact your local plumber for more info.
Read about other things that can help you reduce your hot water bill.
Turn your home into an energy-efficient home
Insulate your home
Poor insulation of your ceilings and roof can account for 40% of heat loss, walls (24%), and floors (another 10%). Likewise, heat can also escape from windows, so investing in double-glazed windows can make a difference if you live in cooler climate regions.
But even simple steps like closing your doors and blinds at the right time can make a huge difference. Check out some more seasonal advice here, and advice on the few key things you can do to reduce your homes energy usage.
Identify electricity hotspots around the home
Working out what uses the most power is the name of the game here - especially in the evenings when electricity consumption costs from the grid are peaking and (if you have a rooftop solar system) there's no free power coming from your rooftop.
So, it's best to work out which things around the house use the most power, and don't worry too much about those that use the least (or to put it another way 'Don’t sweat the little things').
Only a few devices and appliances use the bulk of the energy around the home. Here are the top ones, in order of how much they cost each year on average to run:
You can check the energy efficiency of appliances on the Federal Government's Energy Rating Calculator website.
More tips for the electricity misers
There are a couple of extra energy-saving things you can do around the house, for those eager to go the extra mile (this Facebook group is a great way to share more tips and tricks around the house):
- Lighting uses about 7% of electricity in the home so installing energy-efficient lighting fixtures like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can make a real difference.
- Use the cold water or ‘Eco’ setting on the washing machine (most typical clothes washing cycles don’t need warm or hot water to be effective according to Choice)
- Turn off chargers and appliances at the power point when not being used (most modern chargers and appliances don’t use much power these days, compared to the big things like air conditioning and electric hot water systems)
Make the most of your solar
The more you shift your energy use around the house to when the sun is shining and the solar production is high, the more you can save.
Choose the right times
The best way to make the most of your solar is to use your own solar energy as much as possible when it is plentiful. Use energy-hungry appliances (like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers) in the middle of the day when you’re producing solar energy.
If you have a solar rooftop system you can start using the air conditioner during sunlight hours, to make the most of the free power being produced from your roof. Most air conditioners use far more electricity to bring the room to the right temperature than they do to maintain that temperature. So switch it on before you need it if the sun is shining on your solar rooftop system!
Have a look at this article for more detail on reducing your electricity bills while using air conditioning, heating and cooling devices, and solar electricity.
If you are in the process of ‘electrifying everything’ and are switching to a heat pump hot water system, choose a model that you can set to run during peak solar production in the middle of the day. This way it will primarily use your rooftop solar energy instead of drawing it from the grid (unless of course, it needs to top it up at night after a teenager in the house uses all the water!).
Making money for generating energy from your rooftop and selling it to the grid - Sounds great right?
Here's the thing: solar feed-in tariffs (the money you get for sending solar electricity back to the grid) sound great, but they’re much smaller than the price of electricity that you buy from the grid (say, at night-time). This is reasonable since you have to pay for the grid’s poles and wires to transport that electricity, and these poles and wires make up about 50% of the cost of your electricity bill.
Even when electricity prices aren’t rising, you always get paid less for the electricity you export than the electricity you use from the grid. So, while it's great to get a good feed-in tariff, feeding electricity into the grid during the day rarely makes up for using lots of electricity from the grid in the evening (at peak time) So, always maximise how much of your own rooftop solar you can use to reduce power bills.
For more detail on understanding feed-in tariffs, have a look at this article.
Find the best plan for your solar home, considering both cost and energy consumption
Like mobile phone plans, energy plans have a lot of complexity around their structure, costs, rates, etc. This is because the energy retailers don't want you to switch to a lower cost energy plan.
And if you think it's hard for the average household, even our head of Business Development here at Solar Analytics hadn't faced the daunting task of doing the research and comparing plans for his home until he used the Solar Analytics Plan Optimiser and realised that he could save $800 per year!
Plan Optimiser compares all electricity plans on the market to find the best plans based on your actual energy usage. On average, switching to a better plan could save you an additional $400 off your electricity bill!
If your bills are still too high
If you've tried your best to save energy and your bills are still too high, or if you're struggling to make ends meet as the costs of living rise, have a look at the rebates and assistance that are available today.
It’s never too late to save energy
Electricity prices are expected to rise even further so the reasons for taking steps to save on your electricity bills will keep stacking up!
Start making changes to save money on your power bills today. Try a few of these suggestions, see what works and build up your savings over time. You don’t have to do it all at once.
And easily unlock extra savings with Solar Analytics. Give it a try today, the first 30 days are free.
Here are our top 5 actions you can take immediately to save on your energy bills:
- Add (more) solar panels
- Get off the gas
- Shift your hot water to daytime
- Insulate your home (especially south of Sydney)
- Get Solar Analytics to maximise your savings potential