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How can I save on my energy bill as a senior?

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Prices for energy may be going up but there are things you can do to manage your bill. Being careful with how you use energy doesn’t mean you need to go without or feel uncomfortable. Here are a few steps you can take to save energy and money.

Seven ways to take action

1-Heat and cool your home the smart way

Heating and cooling can make up to 40% of the energy used in your home, but it’s also vital for health and wellbeing. 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.
  • 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, avoid cheap plug-in fans or column or oil heaters as they can use a lot of energy.
  • If you have a split system air conditioner you might be able to use this to heat your home. To do this, look for the ‘sun’ ☀️ on your remote. You can also check the manual for instructions.
  • In summer, always use ceiling fans first to cool down the room before turning on the air conditioner. The fans can also be used in winter if they work in reverse. Along with your heater, this can draw the hot air down from the roof and heat the room more efficiently.
  • Use thick curtains to create an extra layer between you and the cold glass. If you can add pelmets (a framework above a window to hide curtain fixtures), or alternatively something rolled up to cover the top of the curtain, this will help insulate the window and stop the air travelling.
  • Do you have floorboards or tiles? Buy or find some second-hand rugs at your local op shop – the thicker the better!

2- Stop the draughts

Our homes can be ‘leaky’. In summer, this means the cold air we’re trying to keep inside the house is disappearing outside and the outdoor heat is entering in. In winter, this means the warm air we’re trying to trap inside the house is escaping and the cold air is coming in. Try old-fashioned but smart tricks like a rolled-up large towel or a door snake against the door.

3- Switch off at the wall

Did you know that a TV can continue to use power even when it’s switched off? Up to 10% of electricity usage can come from appliances on ‘standby’ but not turned off at the wall. If you don’t need it, switch it off.

4- Lighting

If you haven’t already, switch to LED light bulbs and only have the lights on that you need. Every bit counts! Check for any government offers that might be available to help you make the switch.

5- Appliances

If you need to replace an appliance, consider the size you need (is it time to downsize?) and energy star rating when making your decision. The higher the star rating, the more energy efficient the appliance is.

Boiling the kettle? Only boil the amount that you need. The less water, the less time, the less electricity used.

6- Limiting hot water use

Around 20% of energy use in the average home is for heating water. Having shorter showers (aim for between 2 to 4 minutes) and doing your laundry in cold water can really help.

7- Talk to your energy retailer

Ask your retailer to check:

  • If you are receiving concessions or rebates you are eligible for
  • If they have a seniors energy plan offer that is better than what you are already on
  • If they know of any government grants or rebates in your area for things such as appliance or light bulb replacements, and
  • Let them know if you require life support equipment.

If you are worried about your energy bill, don’t sit in the cold or go without. Call your energy retailer they are there to help and are obligated to do so.

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