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Hot energy tips for cooler weather

Anne Mather / Mercury / 8 April

Main Image: Jamie Henderson, From Aurora’s Energy Support (YES) Team, says savings can be made by making tiny adjustments. Picture: Matt Thompson.

ENERGY experts say it’s the small things in a household that can become big expenses when they’re all added up: the extra degree on a heater’s thermostat, extra minutes in a hot shower and the array of tiny standby lights silently sucking power.

While the nation debates large-scale energy efficiency, Tasmanians facing the cool months ahead have been urged to conduct their own energy audit.

Data from Aurora energy shows a typical residential customer spends about $2000 a year on their power bill, with the winter quarters delivering the highest bills.

But some households are paying almost half the average by adopting simple energy-saving measures.

Jamie Henderson, from Aurora’s Your Energy Support (YES) team, says savings can be made by making tiny adjustments.

“Walk around your home and consider what you can improve in every room — it’s not about being cold, it’s about being conscientious,” Miss Henderson said.

She offered the following tips for households:

LAUNDRY wash clothes in cold water and avoid the dryer.

KITCHEN keep the fridge stocked and unplug the microwave when not in use.

BEDROOM – use an electric blanket instead of heating an entire room.

LIVING ROOM  turn down the heat.

Miss Henderson said using the correct size and type of heater could have a big impact on energy use, with plug-in heaters the least efficient.

“Overheating wastes energy, while undersized heating equipment will struggle, even if running on maximum setting, and may cost you more money than a larger heater,” she said.

“For people that use a heat pump to heat their homes, leaving it on 24/7 for maximum efficiency is a myth — a heat pump that is switched on will always use more energy than one that is switched off.

“Keeping your fridge well-stocked can help save on energy too. A fridge will use more power if it has to keep too much air space cool, and spills out more cold air when you open the door if it is not loaded to the optimum capacity. The fridge doesn’t need to be full with food either, you can simply fill bottles with water to take up the empty space.”

Since its inception in November 2014 the YES program, aimed at vulnerable customers, has helped 2309 households bring down their power bills.

Sustainability assessor Judy Micklewright, from Sustainable Living Kingborough, said people should also remember to make use of the free daytime heating that comes from the sun.

“Pull your curtains back and let in the sun,” she said.

She said allowing the sun to dry clothes was also better than using a dryer, and washing in cold water was better than warm.

Ms Micklewright said she had managed to cut her bill to about $300 a quarter, through simple efficiencies.

Households with solar panels can further slash power bills — and the numbers of solar units have exploded in the past decade.

Tasmania has a total of 31,320 small generation solar units, compared with only 75 in 2007. Last year alone 2484 units were installed, compared with only 25 in 2007.

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