As the effects of the COVID-19 crisis take hold across the country, more and more of us are now self-isolating at home. Besides boredom-induced viral videos and stockpiling toilet paper, this means we’re all likely to use more energy in our homes while we’re stuck inside. So your energy bill might be on your mind.
It’s no wonder then that solar system enquiries are booming, with homeowners thinking about how to buy less electricity from their power companies, boost their energy independence and reduce their energy bill over the long term.
But what else can you do to reduce your energy bill if you already have solar panels, or if getting a solar system isn’t an option for you?
From heating and cooling to your ‘work from home’ habits, we’ve looked at the best ways to cut down on your electricity usage and save money on your energy bill while you’re at home.
Heating and cooling
This is the big one. Heating and cooling can account for around 40% of your home’s energy usage, so this is the best place to start when looking at reducing your energy bill.
Adjust the thermostat
It can be tempting to crank your heater up on those chilly autumn mornings and evenings. But keeping the thermostat between 18°C and 20°C when you’re heating, and between 25°C and 27°C for cooling, can really make a difference. In fact for every degree you increase that by, your energy usage will also increase by 5-10%.
Your ceiling fan isn’t just for summer
Ceiling fans can also help keep your house warm in the cooler months while using a fraction of the energy that a heater does. Hot air rises, and most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse direction which will push the hot air near the roof back down.
Insulation is the key to a warm house
If your home isn’t very well insulated, try to make it a bit more draught proof by blocking chimney draughts, sealing evaporative cooling vents and sealing gaps around doors, windows, walls and floors. By insulating your home, you could save up to 45% on your energy bill.
Windows and doors matter too
If it’s a chilly day, keep the doors inside your home shut to keep the warmth in. Remember to keep your blinds or curtains open during the day to let the sun in and close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat in. If you live in cooler, southern parts of Australia, it might be worth investing in some heavy curtains with pelmets for extra warmth.
It’s the oldest trick in the book – pop on a jumper, some slippers or even a beanie. Better yet, turn off your heater and try an electric blanket. Even if you’re working from home, chances are you only need to look presentable from the waist up!
Avoid peak energy rates
If you’re on a time of use energy tariff, your electricity rates will peak in the evening (generally 4pm-7pm). Now that you’re home more often, use this to your advantage and try to use your appliances like the washing machine and dishwasher outside of these peak times.
Switch off and unplug
Be sure to turn your appliances off when you’re not using them, and try to remember to turn them off at the powerpoint too. Even on standby, many appliances use a bit of electricity.
For those working from home, that goes for your computer and phone chargers too. Don’t leave your laptop plugged in all day – unplug it once it’s fully charged and let it run on battery power.
Keep it cool
Keep your fridge set to 4°C or 5°C and your freezer at -15°C to -18°C. These temperatures are within safe food storage guidelines, and each degree colder uses more energy.
Use your washing machine more efficiently
Did you know around 25% of an average home’s electricity is spent on hot water? Use cold water to wash your clothes, make sure you wait until you have a full load before running your washing machine and wash your clothes using the shortest appropriate cycle.
Let nature dry your clothes
While the days are starting to get a bit shorter, you can still line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. Dry them outside if it’s a nice day (after all, you’ll be home to bring them in if the weather turns) or hang them up inside.
Work from home more efficiently and keep your energy bill low
Working from home? Here are some quick tips to help minimise your energy usage.
- Set your monitor to go to ‘sleep’ after 5 minutes of inactivity
- Keep your computer’s air vents unobstructed and clear of clutter
- Switch your bluetooth and wi-fi off when you’re not using them – they’re constantly searching for a signal which uses a substantial amount of power
- Turn your computer, printer and any other work-related appliances off at the end of the day (don’t forget to unplug them from the wall too!)
- Purchasing new equipment? Go with devices that come with a higher energy efficiency rating as they’ll consume less electricity.
Make the most of your solar panels
Heat or cool your home with solar power
Don’t forget, if you’ve got solar panels you’ll likely be powering much of your house using free solar power during the day. So don’t be afraid to pump the heater or air conditioner up a bit while the sun’s out. Let it warm or cool your house during the day so in the evening you can turn it down (avoiding peak energy rates) and use your fan to keep the cool or warm air circulating.
Run your appliances during the day
Use the fact that you’re at home during the day to your advantage when it comes to appliances too. Run your appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, etc.) during the sunniest parts of the day using the electricity generated by your solar panels, rather than in the evening.
Ensure your solar system is in good shape
Chances are you’ve got some extra time at home available these days. Make the most of it and ensure your solar system is working efficiently.
Check your inverter is working (if it’s not, there will be an error message or warning light visible on the display) and see if your solar panels need a clean (dirt and even bird poo can build up over time and affect the efficiency of your panels.)
If you need to get anything repaired or cleaned, ensure you contact a professional. Remember, a solar system is a live electrical system and most panels are very high off the ground!
Is it time for a solar battery?
If you’ve got solar panels, you’ve already taken the first step to energy independence and lower bills over the long term. With lower bills and increased financial certainty, you can achieve ongoing control over your daily budget and lifestyle. So is it time to think about the next step?
With a solar battery, you can store any excess solar power that you don’t use during the day for use later on, therefore minimising the amount of expensive electricity you have to buy back during the evening peak. After all, if you’re on a standard feed-in tariff, you’re likely paying much more for energy in the evening than you’re getting for your feed-in tariff.
At DC Power Co, we’ve designed a powerful yet simple and affordable solar battery package. Starting at just $6750 plus installation, it’s a modular solar battery package that comes with extended warranties and blackout protection included at no extra cost. So you can take back control of your power, get better value from your solar panels and get blackout protection, all for less than $7000.