Monday, September 17, 2012

Busting our electricity bills: Part 1

'Give me the Flick'. This is one of the stickers I received in an energy saving pack from my council. It has a picture of a light switch on it. Our local council is running a 'Bust Your Household Electricity Bills' competition. There's a prize for the family who make the largest reduction to their bill. I don't recall what the prize is, but for us, the savings on our electricity bill is enough of a reward. 

shower timer
Shower timer

A few more of the things I received in the starter pack:
  • A thermometer. It has a little reminder printed on the front to heat the house in winter only between 18-21 degrees, and to cool in summer between 23-26 degrees.
  • Four minute shower timers.
  • A water bottle, a substitute for air conditioning.
  • Neck tie coolers, another air con alternative, that is, unlike an air conditioner, conveniently portable.
  • A sheet of stickers to remind us to 'Be cool, shut the door' when opening the fridge, and 'unplug me' for our phone chargers.
  • And a pile of guides about heating, lighting, hot water and sustainable living.
 Over the last year we have made considerable investment in upgrading our appliances to more energy efficient models, buying recent second hand models where we could. We up-graded our fridge to a larger model, but one that is more energy efficient than our old fridge. This winter we bought a 2400W Panel Heater to replace our slow column heater. And when our washing machine of only five years keeled over, we replaced it with a four star front loading model, the best we could afford under a $1000. Each of these appliances were no longer performing for us, so needed replacement. We calculated that the savings in energy efficiency would, at second hand rates, make them pay for themselves within a few years. 

At this point we moved to our new home, which includes the oh so not so glam instant hot water heater. Our winter electricity bill was $930.00. We cringed. Oopps! There goes our new budget. Our daily usage was 32kw. Eeeppp..... up from 12kw in summer (we have no air conditioner). And only a third of that bill included the new 20% rate increase. Our electricity costs were getting scary. We knew it was coming but now it was sinking in. It was time to do some maths. I added up our last four bills, one years worth. My calculations for the next 12 months produced a potential figure of $3000 in electricity on the new rates with the 100% Green Power package.

I got out the pile of sustainable energy saving guides from the council. We are going to have a thorough go at winning this competition before our bank account resigns from its job.

Read the next article in this series...
Busting our electricity bills: Part 2  

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