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How can I lower my energy bill as a renter?

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Prices for energy may be going up, but your energy bill doesn’t have to. Even if you’re a renter and don’t own your home, there are still steps you can take to lower your bill and change the way you use energy.

Eight ways to lower bills at your rented home

1-Heat and cool your home the smart way

Did you know heating and cooling can make up to 40% of your total energy use? Here are some things you can do to adjust your energy use and still feel comfortable:

•Only heat and cool the rooms you are using and close all other doors.
•Try an electric throw for the lounge or home office, or even an old-school hot water bottle or heat pack.
•For effective (though slightly strange looking) DIY window glazing, try placing easy to remove bubble wrap on top of your windows. Search online for videos on ‘bubble wrap double glazing’. But be careful to keep it away from candles and open flames!

•Adjusting your heating or cooling up or down by one degree can increase your energy use by 5-10%, so if you can:

  • In winter, set the temperature at 18-20 degrees
  • In summer, set the temperature at 24-26 degrees.

  • If you can, put up thick curtains with pelmets or ask your landlord to install these. Want to DIY pelmets? Try placing a thick towel or sheet at the top of the curtains (see image).
  • Got a split system air conditioner? You might also have an efficient electrical heater. Look for the ‘sun’ ☀️ icon on your remote or check the manual for instructions. Most manuals can now be found online too.
  • Have ceiling fans? Always use these before the air conditioner. In winter, check if it has a reverse function and use it with your heater as the fan will help circulate the hot air more evenly.
  • Have floorboards or tiles? Pick up some second-hand rugs at your local op shop or online marketplace – the thicker the better!

With your landlord’s permission and/or help there are other things you can do like having insulation installed in your roof, or DIY sealing of gaps around windows and doors. Why not start the conversation now, and work together on what could be done.

2- Stop the air leaks

Our homes can be ‘leaky’. This means it’s easy for the air in our homes to escape outside, making it harder to keep our home the right temperature. Try grandma hacks like door snakes or rolled up towels to stop the air escaping.

3- Switch off at the wall

Did you know that your mobile phone can continue to use power to charge even when the battery is full?  Up to 10% of your electricity usage comes from appliances on ‘standby’ when the device is off but the power being drawn is not. Save energy and switch it off at the wall when not in use.

4- Check your lighting

If you haven’t already, switch to LEDs (check for government offers) and only have the lights on that you need. Every bit counts!

5- Buy energy efficient appliances

When replacing appliances like a fridge or a washing machine, aim for the highest energy star rating that suits your budget and sizing needs.

Check your state government website for any rebates you (or your landlord) may be eligible for. You can see a full list of energy concessions and rebates here.

6- Limit hot water use

An average house can use up to 20% of their energy bill on heating hot water. Limit showers to 2 to 4 minutes if you can. 

You can also change the temperature of your hot water system so it’s not using excess energy to heat the water.

7 – Change your washing habits

Washing clothes in cold water saves energy. Make sure you fill up your washing machine as much as you can before running a load – by doing fewer loads, you’ll save power and money.

Whenever possible, air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer.

8 – Know your rights

Did you know in Victoria, landlords must ensure there is fixed heating in the living room? And if a heater needs to be installed, it must meet applicable energy efficiency standards.

Check online or with the Tenants’ Union in your state to stay up to date on your rights. After all, a healthy, happy home is good for everyone!