As Australians weather a cost of living crisis, now is a great time to look into your winter energy bills for ways to save.
With the mercury falling, many of us are reaching for our winter coats and electric heaters. But ramping up your heater could cost you hundreds of dollars over the winter period.
Instead, a few simple adjustments and a bit of planning can offset some of your typical winter costs.
The first thing you should do this winter is compare your heating options.
We crunched the numbers and on average you’ll be paying $228 more just to stay warm. And that’s if you run a heater for just 4 hours a day.
But there are significant differences in costs.
If you were to choose the most expensive heating option, which we found is a tower heater, then you’ll be paying $354 in just the 90 days of winter. But if you were to choose the cheapest option, which is a reverse cycle air conditioner, your total running costs would be $127 (although you will have a much larger upfront cost).
The difference between the two heating options is $227 over the 90 days of winter. So it becomes clear that choosing the most cost-effective option can help you save.
As an alternative to using either heating option, you can purchase an electric blanket.
Now this lacks flexibility, especially if it’s an electric blanket for your bed, but it does cost significantly less than any other heating method.
In fact, our analysis found it will cost just 14 cents a day to use. It also has the added perk of costing a lot less to buy then many of the other heating options so your initial investment is much lower.
Another way to save money is to find out what government benefits you’re entitled to and how you can claim them.
Unfortunately, thousands of Aussies miss out on this bill relief purely because they don’t know they are entitled to it.
Federally, Treasurer Jim Chalmers used his budget speech to announce $500 worth of support for 5.5 million Australians.
But the bulk of it will be directed towards those “most in need”. This includes:
While you might not be eligible for national bill relief, you could still get something from your state government.
Take for example Victoria which is offering a $250 Power Saving Bonus to everyone in the state or Western Australia’s government, which is giving $400 as part of its cost of living package to all residents.
Don’t simply take your supplier’s charge at face value.
Most of us accept the reading we are given and pay our electricity bills. This can be a costly mistake, especially during the winter months after running a heater most of the day, as your provider may use an estimate. This means they estimate your usage instead of getting your actual figure from your meter, and what you actually used could be very different.
As such, if you’ve put in the time and effort to reduce your energy usage, simply checking the meter and ensuring your energy company has used correct figures can help you cut back on your winter power costs.
Generally, providers will only use an estimate if they can’t get access to your meter: for instance, your gate is locked, or you’re not home and a pet is hindering their access to your property. Eventually (on your next couple of bills) they will do an actual reading and your bill will reflect the difference, but if you’d like to update your figures sooner, you can get in contact with your provider.
Now this one might not be for everyone as it has a large upfront cost (use our personal loans to invest), but if you were to install solar panels, you stand to save after your initial investment.
According to Solar Bright, payback on your solar panels can take anywhere between 3 to 6 years depending on the size of your home, size of the panels you install and the energy you consume.
If you were to install solar panels, your home electricity would be partially powered by these panels (during daylight hours) instead of drawing energy from the electricity grid.
This means your home heating system that you run during winter won’t be drawing as much power from the grid.
Further still, if you produce more electricity than you require, then your excess will be exported back to the electricity grid, where some retailers will pay you a small feed-in tariff.
Now if you’ve cut back on your usage, invested in a cheaper heating option and checked your meter but your winter energy bills are still on the higher side, your next step is to compare the plan that you are on to see if you can get a better deal.
Like most services, your loyalty is rarely rewarded. Being on an old, outdated plan doesn’t help anyone but your energy provider.
So if you’ve reached this point, it could be time to compare, switch and save on your electricity bills.
Cameron Micallef is a utilities writer at Finder. He specialises in a range of topics including energy, mobile, broadband and streaming. He previously worked at Finder as an investments writer. Cameron has worked in the industry for 5 years now. Before joining Finder he worked for AAP and has written for a number of titles including Smart Property Investment, nestegg and Investor Daily.