With the fall out from the global financial meltdown still apparent the world over, families and home owners are always looking to save money in any area they can. At the same time, the Australian Climate Commission has called this the next ten years “the critical decade” for making a difference to climate change. So how can you save money on your gas and electricity bills and at the same time reduce your effect on climate change? Well, it’s easier – and cheaper – than you might think. Of course, you will save plenty of money – and carbon – in the long term if you can afford to install solar panels for your home now, but in the short term that costs you money. So what lower cost options are there?
- Turn off or unplug your appliances at the wall. Yes, even if the appliance itself is turned off, it is likely still drawing a charge from the wall. So switch off when not in use.
- Don’t leave appliances in standby mode. Many people don’t realise that by leaving their computer on in standby mode all day, they are often actually using more power over the period it is not in use than the short period that they use it.
- Use power boards to turn off a set of appliances together – for instance, by plugging everything in your home entertainment unit into a power board, all you need to do is unplug the power board or turn it off at the wall if you have that option. You can leave anything that needs to be kept on – like you TiVo – plugged in separately.
- Change out your old incandescent light bulbs for CFLs or – where possible – LEDs. Light Emitting Diodes are really the technology of the future, but as yet they are not as effective for room lighting as incandescents. So save them for spotlighting – solar powered LED garden lights are widely available – and for things like reading lamps that need directional light only. Make sure all your outdoor lights are LEDs, and if you are buying new outdoor lights, do make sure they are solar powered.
- Stayting outdoors, if you have a pool, make sure you have a solar pool cover on it. This is a simple piece of vinyl that will keep your pool warm without an electric pool heater, and also help prevent evaporation.
- Wash your clothes in cold water, take shorter showers and don’t pre-wash your dishes using hot water. If you have a standard electric hot water system, you could be spending up to one third of your power bills on hot water. So if there is one are you might want to spend some money it is here, by upgrading to solar hot water. In the meantime though, try to cut your hot water use wherever you can.
- Turn your thermostat down a degree or two in winter and up a degree or two in summer. Again, you might be surprised by how much difference this makes. Experiment with it to see how far you can turn it down and still be comfortable by using more blankets at night and clothes by day.
In the long run, you will save more energy by spending some money on things like solar power and wall and ceiling insulation, but even if money is short at the moment, you can make a difference immediately. Following these few simple tips you really will be able to save money on your power bills in very short order.
For more ideas see the energy category on Sustainable Suburbia.