Put your bills on ice this winter

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From 1 July 2010, NSW residents will start paying 20% more on their household electricity bills. If you’re reading this from another state you may want to wipe that smug smile off your face – prices are rising across Australia by anywhere from 4% to 20% with NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia the hardest hit.

According to the NSW state government, the reason for the jump in prices has been influenced by the need to replace or upgrade the state’s electricity assets. A third of the rise will be used to cover the federal government’s proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme.

So if you haven’t budgeted for what could be an extra few hundred dollars on your three-monthly electricity bill this winter, what exactly can you do to keep Jack Frost at bay?

1. Now’s the time to think green
If you’re enjoying the warm blasts of an electric fan heater to heat your entire house this winter, you may want to consider switching to a cheaper alternative. Portable electric heaters may be cheap to buy but they’re hard on the hip pocket if you actually want to use them.

Your best bet? Take advantage of the end of the financial year sales to go and grab a gas heater. Sure, they’re a bit more expensive to buy but they’re a lot cheaper to run and they produce less greenhouse gas emissions than electric heaters. With a gas heater, you can be hip and comfortable.

2. Optimal temperature
Wishing it was summer again? If your home feels like an igloo you don’t need to overcompensate by heating it to 30C.

To help keep your bills down this winter, Energy Australia advises you to keep your home at a comfortable 18-21 degrees. According to the energy provider, every degree above that adds 10% to your home heating bill.

Origin Energy goes one better and advises you to hold off on the heating until the minimum night-time temperate dips below 10C. 

3. Seal it up!
A sealed house is an efficient house. You know you’ve got to keep those doors and windows closed while the heater is on, right? Pull down the curtains at night too to trap some of that warmth your new gas heater is providing.

If your home is feeling a bit chilly and your electricity bills are astronomical, poor sealing can be an issue.  Older style homes may need a once over to check and replace weather strips on external doors and windows, and don’t forget the good old carpet snake to help seal gaps under doors.

4. Save hot water... shower together!
If you’re lucky enough to have a significant other, nothing says I love you more than slashing your power bill, right?

Hot water left to cool in your pipes means energy spent and wasted and an electric hot water system can account for up to a third of your household’s electricity use. Showering consecutively, lowering your hot water thermostat and installing a water heater blanket, or switching to solar or gas water heating can dramatically cut your power bill.

Do you have any savvy savings tips? Email them to editor@yourmortgage.com.au

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