It seems to happen every year. Just when you’re feeling smug thinking you’re doing all the right things — turning appliances off at the PowerPoint, jumping in and out of the shower, wearing socks to bed — you’re smacked with a four-figure wake-up call.
Yep, we’re talking about your power bill. That pesky, hard-to-avoid charge that tends to give us so much grief come wintertime. It’s a concern Natasha Janssens, founder of Women with Cents, knows all too well. In her experience as a financial coach, people are usually left shocked by the cost of their energy usage.
“Because it’s hard to know how much your bill is going to come to,” Janssens explains. “Not only is it expensive, but it can also be unpredictable if you don’t manage it well.” So, in the spirit of trying to manage our energy a little better, we’ve rounded up a list of left-of-field tips you can utilise to start cutting it down.
MAKE YOUR PROVIDER WORK FOR YOU
First things first: Take advantage of all the incentives and benefits your energy provider offers.
For example, Janssens recommends considering “bill smoothing”. This involves asking your provider to estimate 12 months’ worth of energy usage and paying off that amount in smaller chunks.
“It’s a really effective way to, first of all, keep your cash flow consistent and reduce overspending on the months you don’t get your energy bill arriving in the mail,” Janssens says. “And it also will prevent bill shock.”
Failing this, you could shop around for a better offer. “I did that recently, and I found we’re going to actually save up to $1000 over the space of 12 months,” she says, proving it never hurts to ask.
Installing solar is one of the best ways to reduce your energy bill and give you the added smugness of being one of those forward-thinking people who help to save the world — win/win, right?
Seriously though, in going down this path there are two types of solar technology to consider, solar hot water and solar power.
Replacing your traditional hot water system with a solar water heater can save you up to 65 per cent in hot water energy usage, according to Solahart. And solar power systems are a great way to save even more money, especially when filling your roof with panels. This has created the opportunity for battery storage technology, allowing you to store your power for later use, when the sun is not shining.
Warwick Read, Solahart’s product marketing manager, says, “People want to be independent of their energy supplier. Energy prices keep going up, and they like the idea that even though they can’t get completely off the grid, they can significantly reduce their energy bills while investing in solar.”
If you’re concerned about the costs of installing a solar hot water or power system, you can look into the government-supported Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The scheme provides a financial incentive to reduce the upfront cost of going solar and because you save on your energy bills, the system will pay for itself over time.