How to hack your home and save on energy bills this summer

Despite dire warnings of worsening energy prices, nothing prepares you for the moment you open a letter from the energy company and realise you’ve been stung with a 20 per cent increase to your bill.

With eye-watering energy prices adding to the cost of living, and fuelling financial stress, it’s little wonder Australians are losing faith that the energy system can deliver for them.

Only 35 per cent of households say they are confident the market is working in their interests, down by 11 per cent in the past year, according to the latest Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey.

“On any measure, the survey results in this December 2022 report are truly concerning,” Energy Consumers Australia’s chief executive Lynne Gallagher said.

Ms Gallagher told The New Daily that consumer confidence had taken a hit in the past year, and warned that more financial pain was on the way.

Energy Consumers Australia chief executive Lynne Gallagher. Source: ECA

Experts say that Australia’s dramatic increase in energy prices is being driven by a combination of economic, political and weather-related events. These include increasing global cost of fossil fuels, supply chain disruption and a significant increase in demand.

But there are things you can do to take some of the sting out of sky-high power prices.

Here are some expert tips on saving energy and dollars this summer.

Switch to green energy

Katja Ignatieva, associate professor at the UNSW Sydney Business School said:

“Start using power generated from renewable sources such as the sun, wind, water and waste power, rather than coal or gas. In other words, installing solar panels on your roof is one of the most efficient ways to save energy and reduce your energy bill in the long term.

“Other suggestions include switching off appliances when they are not in use, choosing energy-efficient appliances, switching to LED lights and efficient use of air conditioners.”

‘The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use’

Dr Archie Chapman, senior lecturer at University of Queensland’s School of Information Technology said:

“As a society, we should be trying to reduce our per-capita energy use. So energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, sealing up leaky windows, and drawing curtains during the hottest times of the day can have a large impact.

“If you have rooftop solar, use appliances at times when you are generating your own power. For example, use a timer to run dishwashers or washing machines during the day.”

Solar panels can be a key to saving money on your energy costs.

Time is of the essence

Professor Gerard Ledwich, principal research fellow in power engineering at the Queensland University of Technology said:

“If you are on a peak demand tariff then pre-cool your building or shift loads to coincide with solar input. Use timers on pool pumps in the middle of the day and use ovens and air conditioners when the solar input is strong.”

Only sing short songs in the shower

Professor Iain MacGill from the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications and Collaboration for Energy and Environmental Markets at UNSW Sydney said:

“Think about rooftop PV (solar panels) if that’s an option. Shorter showers, higher temperature settings on the air-conditioner thermostat can all make a big difference. And if you are buying appliances, look for the more energy-efficient ones – they’ll save you money in the long run.”

Shift consumption

Guillaume Roger, associate professor of economics at Monash University and the co-ordinator of the Australian Electricity Market Initiative said:

“People can pre-cool their house, shade their windows to decrease the heat load indoors, and shift their consumption over the day. In Australia, electricity is the cheapest in the middle of the day, when the sun delivers all this cheap energy. Run your laundry and your dishwasher then.

“Electricity is the most expensive between 6-9pm. Reducing consumption even by only 10 per cent in that time window can have a dramatic price impact, because that is when supply is so tight and exactly when we need the gas plants to produce.”

Relief soon?

There may be some slight relief on the way for consumers, with the Albanese government expected to announce an energy relief package next week.

The federal government is expected to endorse a multipronged strategy to curb power prices, likely cap wholesale gas prices at about $12 a gigajoule, demand a guaranteed domestic gas supply from producers, and enforce a mandatory code of conduct as part of a market intervention.

But first it must get over the objections of some state and territory leaders. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will have that at the top of the agenda at a national cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

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