Many New Zealanders use around 2% more energy as the years progress. If you use energy more efficiently and rely more on renewable resources, you could help the country save around 20% of that demand, which is currently $2.4 billion a year. In fact, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) estimated that by 2035, households that use energy-efficient lighting, heat spaces and water more efficiently could reduce their energy use by around 20%.
Reducing your energy use can in turn help you save money on your household bills. First, we’ll show you how to plan and organise your household bills so you know how much money you’re spending and how much to save. Then, we’ll give you some tips on how to save energy in your home to reduce the cost of your bills.
How to plan and organise your household bills
You can start by creating a budget and writing down how much you earn in a fortnight, and then how much of that goes to your household bills. This includes electricity, gas, and water. If you spend a lot on your energy bills and don’t have enough money left at the end of the month, you should consider cutting back on your energy use, using some of the measures detailed further on.
And when you know how much you generally spend on your household bills, you should be able to allocate a certain amount of your pay cheque for each of your bills ahead of time. This way you’ll have enough money to pay your bills on time and not worry about paying a single bill late.
Exploring energy provider options
First of all, a great way to figure out if you’re with the appropriate energy provider for your needs, or to see if you could be getting a better deal, is to use a resource such as What’s My Number.
What’s My Number gives you access to your electricity usage report, analysing how much energy you have used in the past 24 months, and then provides you with easy to understand information about switching providers, as well as the potential benefits of a change like this for your household. By combining your electricity usage information, the information from your meter and the pricing plans of different energy providers, you’re able to make a more informed decision about the best plan for you and your needs. The What’s My Number initiative has (as of June 2017) saved New Zealanders over $251,762,960, and is a helpful first step in saving money on your household bills.
Exploring alternative energy provider options, especially online providers such as Flick.co.nz, is another way to potentially save overall on your household’s electricity bills.
How to save energy in your home
- Close the curtains when it starts to get dark to keep the heat in.
- Stop draughts by ensuring your windows and doors fit their frames.
- Turn off your heaters when you’re not using them.
- Set your heater’s thermostat from 18˚C to 20˚C.
- Some heaters can only heat one room, so close doors and curtains in the evening.
- Use energy efficient wood types, some firewood has better heat content than others.
- Open doors and windows and let the breeze move through your home.
- Close blinds and curtains at windows that get direct sunlight.
- Plant deciduous trees on the north and west sides of your home as they offer shade in summer and let sunlight through when they lose their leaves in winter.
- Install external window shades like blinds, awnings, or louvres.
- Use fans as much as possible, as they’re cheaper to run than air conditioning.
- When using your air conditioner, use the fan only setting, the dehumidifying mode if it’s the humidity that’s the issue, and the cooling mode on very hot days.
3. Hot water
- Use an efficient showerhead, as it uses less water but still gives you a great shower.
- Spend less time in the shower – a 15-minute shower costs about $1, whereas a 5-minute shower costs about 33 cents. A family of four could save about $18 per week ($900 a year) by taking shorter showers.
- Use cold washes if you don’t have a dirty load, as hot water washes use about 10 times more electricity.
- Use energy-efficient lights such as LEDs, compact fluorescent lights, and new generation halogen lights, as they use less energy and last longer.
- Maximise natural light with skylights, as well as light-coloured walls and surfaces that provide a reflective surface.
- Use modern LED downlights rated IC, IC-F, or IC-4 for recessed lighting, since they have compatible insulation fitted over them to keep the heat in and provide cheap lighting costs.
- Use surface mounted and pendant ceiling lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs. They can light big spaces easily, so you don’t need a lot of them.
- Use sensor-controlled lights fitted with LEDs for outdoor lighting to provide safety and energy savings.
- Dim your lights to save on your electricity bill and increase your bulbs lifespan. Dimming a bulb by 50% can help you reduce your energy use by 50%.
- Use cold water and do a warm wash every five loads or a hot wash every 10 loads, to remove leftover dirt and detergent in your machine.
- Wash a full load instead of several smaller loads.
- Change the water level to suit the size of your load.
- Group clothes by fabric, colour, and how dirty they are. For instance, wash a full load of lightly-soiled clothes with cold water and don’t add overalls that require a heavier cycle and a warmer wash.
- Dry your clothes outside or on racks to avoid using your clothes dryer too much.
- Don’t overload and over-dry, as this can use up a lot of energy and cost money.
- Dry clothes with others of similar weight. For example, jeans take longer to dry than lightweight items, so don’t dry them together.
- Spin dry clothes in your washing machine before using the clothes dryer, since less electricity is used to spin water out than to heat it out.
Fridges and freezers
- Don’t open the fridge door too often, and don’t leave it open for a long time either.
- Spread out food packages in the freezer to stop items freezing together and so that the freezer doesn’t have to work harder to freeze the food.
- Use cold water if you rinse dishes before loading.
- Run the dishwasher only when it has a full load.
- Use the machine’s eco-cycle or choose the cycle that has the lowest temperature and minimum time to get the job done.
Computers and office equipment
- Turn off your computer, WiFi, and other equipment at the wall when you’re not using them. Use multi-plug power boards that have a power switch to turn off several devices simultaneously.
- Put your computer into ‘sleep mode’ after 10-15 minutes of inactivity, or you can switch to sleep mode when you don’t need to use the computer for more than a few minutes.
- Don’t use screensavers as they consume more energy and can stop your computer from going into sleep mode.
TVs and other home entertainment equipment
- Turn off your TV and other equipment (DVD player, game consoles, etc) when you’re not using them. Even better, consider unplugging the cord or turning the switch off at the wall.
- Set your TV to the recommended brightness so it uses less energy.
- Enable ‘Automatic Power Down’, which turns off your TV after a few hours of no one pressing a button on the remote control.
Saving money on your household bills
By reducing your energy use, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on your household bills every year, as well as help New Zealand save billions of dollars a year. It’s as simple as installing energy-efficient light bulbs, using less hot water, or turning off appliances after you’ve finished using them.
Being on top of your finances is the ideal situation, but if you have bills due and don’t have the funds to pay for them, you can apply for a loan with Admiral Finance – we offer quick, easy finance for people living in New Zealand. We can help you manage your expenses, so you’re sure to have the right amount of cash next time a bill arrives on your doorstep.