Winter is causing the temperature to drop and COVID-19 is still causing some restrictions and lockdowns. This means it’s likely many of us will be spending a more time at home, which can mean higher than usual electricity bills.
The seasonal changes that have us running air conditioners or heaters can give us a bit of bill shock, but this winter, we’d love you to be prepared.
Firstly though, some reassurance. The current unusual circumstances mean that important special measures have been put in place by the energy industry across the country. No one will have their electricity account cut off this winter, no matter their financial situation and capacity to pay bills.
Enova is committed to supporting this policy and is on hand to assist anyone who is experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19. Please contact us on (02) 5622 1700 or check our hardship policy here if you need assistance.
Staying home is the new normal
We know many households are adjusting to a new way of operating. Working from home is becoming more familiar, and so is homeschooling. As temperatures drop, we’re expecting that heaters will go on. This, combined with potentially numerous electronic devices being charged daily, will put pressure on electricity costs.
Households with solar have an opportunity to rearrange their approach by using their solar energy generated during the day. That’s great! Here’s a handy guide to help you do that.
Non-solar households can also take some useful measures to minimise the impact of winter energy costs.
We want to stress though, if you’re at home (working or not!) and you’re cold, put the heater on, layer up, get out the woollen jumpers, Ugg boots and blankets.
Stay warm! This is not about depriving yourself of comfort. Rather, it’s about staying comfortable in the most energy-efficient way.
Our top tips to help you avoid a winter bill blow-out
Here’s what we recommend you do to prepare for winter and keep your winter energy bills under control:
- Layer up - Time to get your winter gear out of storage! Layering your clothes keeps your body warm. Layer up before relying on the heater. If you’re still cold, then add some heating. Be aware of the difference in warmth offered by natural fabrics compared to synthetics. Go for a singlet, underlayer, long-sleeved top and a jumper, or jacket, and even a beanie.
- Toastie tootsies! Don’t get around the house in bare feet in winter. Invest in some warm slippers or Ugg boots.
- Choose energy-efficient heaters - If you’re upgrading your heater in time for winter, choose the most energy-efficient heater you can afford, and ensure your new heater has a timer.
- Size Matters! When buying your heater, remember that size matters. It may benefit you to think about the size of the space, or spaces, you wish to heat. For example, use small energy-efficient heaters in places like the bathroom, or closed rooms like an office. This saves trying to warming up the whole house with one large heater instead.
- Drop it 1 degree - Almost 40% of household energy use relates to heating during winter. But there are ways you can reduce this figure – for example, by dialling down the thermostat on your heater by just one degree, you can reduce energy use by up to 10%. Every degree of temperature higher than the heater is set adds about 10% to your heating costs.
- It’s all in the timing - It’s important to use the timer on your heater/air conditioning unit well. Heating is most efficient if done low and slow, rather than at full tilt suddenly in an already cold room. For example, to warm a room slowly, set the timer for 5am warming the room before you need to get up and out of bed. Once the space is warm the heater can probably go off at around 8 or 9 am. Also have the heater’s timer set for 3pm as well, to start gradually heating up your space before dark.
- Keep doors & windows closed - Ensure that when the heater is on, all doors and windows are closed. This also includes your garage door! Keeping it closed will help prevent cold air from coming in and retain warmer air on the garage-side wall of your home.
- Keep the heat to the day - Try to avoid running your heater/s all night and use other ways to stay warm.
- Let in the sun - Allow sunlight in during the day to help heat your space naturally.
- Insulate - Insulating your space with a rug on the floor, insulation in the ceiling, cosy throws on the couch, and curtains closed across windows at night all help keep rooms warmer.
- Snuggle time - Layer up your beds so you can have heaters off while everyone’s asleep. Flannelette sheets, woollen blankets, thick winter doona and/or a hot water bottle, will all help keep you warm and eliminate the need for heating throughout the night.
- Keep draughts out - Identify and block off any draughts under doors or around window seals. Keep warm air in, and cold air out!
- REUSE HEAT! There are some sneaky hacks you can use to make that energy go an extra mile to keep you warm. Been baking? Leave the oven open once you've finished and let the remaining warm air help heat up the room. Taking a shower or having a bath? Don't run the bathroom fan and allow the humidity to make the air warmer.
- Reverse your ceiling fans - Many ceiling fans have a switch just above the blades that will allow you to change between summer and winter mode. If this isn’t the case for you, just turn your fan clockwise. Rather than creating an airflow that makes you feel cooler, your fan will push warm air downward, making you feel warmer. Best to set it on a low or lowest speed for best results.
Energy efficiency tips still apply
As always, the general energy efficiency tips still apply! Here are some of our favourites:
- Use smart lighting habits - LED bulbs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Be sure to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Conserve in the laundry room - Doing laundry can use a lot of energy. The washer and dryer alone use energy to operate, but both also use heat. To keep costs down, try using these appliances and their heat elements as little as possible. Wash and dry full loads and try washing as much as possible in cold water. If you can, hang your laundry to dry. This will also reduce wear and tear on your clothes.
- Check your refrigerator - Is your refrigerator set at the right temperature? If it’s too cold, it could be costing you money. Check with the manufacturer to find the recommended temperature. Additionally, make sure your refrigerator door is not letting cold air escape and making your refrigerator work harder.
We've also provided some great advice for all year round in one of our previous blogs: 10 tips to avoid bill shock.
Enova is on a mission to help you understand energy and how to use it efficiently! We hope this is useful and that it helps get you through the coming winter.