Simple and effective ways to save on your electricity and gas – and keep saving !

As we all know energy costs are becoming a bigger and bigger impact on our budgets.

So with little control over electricity and gas price increases in the shorter term, how do we take some control over this?

Well let’s get the bad news over with – there is no silver bullet !

The good news though is that there are some key steps you can follow to give you the best chance to save when that energy bill comes in.

What we’ve tried to do below is put forward some simple and practical ideas given everyone’s busy life by focussing on a small number of things that can make a big difference

1.     Be smart about your electricity and gas usage.

Sounds good but what does this actually mean? 

Get to know your energy bill.

Do you have a continuous general supply to your premise (sometimes called single rate) or do you have an off peak supply (night times / weekends) as well? This is the key to understanding the next part of taking control of your energy costs.

What are the “big ticket” items in your house?

You can go on forever about every little tip and trick to save a dollar but let’s be practical. What are the big things that drive your energy usage in your home and on different tariffs? Have a think about the graph and below are a few points to help your thinking. ( Note this is indicative and may of course vary from your own situation but it gives you some food for thought)

piechart_nov2011

  • Hot water can be a big one for families (up to 30% of the bill)? Shorter hot showers (especially in winter) can make a real difference.
  • Appliances like clothes dryers. Do you set the timer too long or is it time to update to a smarter and more energy efficient appliance.
  • Heating and cooling. Get the right heater or air conditioner for the right space and run it on the right temperature. For instance small systems in big rooms running flat out may never do the job and saving a few dollars on the purchase may cost you more in energy costs. Do your research into picking the right system for the right situation eg bedroom / living room / whole home. Another easy one to remember is if you’re not using the room close the door.
  • Lighting. Switching to energy efficient globes and turning lights off when you’re leaving a room is as easy and practical as you can get to make the biggest difference to usage here.
  • Fridges and freezers – Does that second fridge need to run all the time? Can you turn it down in the colder months?
  • Standby power. Remember before remote controls? If someone told you they would give you a $50 note at the end of the year if you just walked to your TV and switched it off would you do it? That’s how much you could save by one simple change.

The advice here is to work at affecting the biggest ticket items for the largest and fastest change to your costs. Simple changes in these key areas could mean a 10% change (or more) in your energy usage and costs.

2.     Make sure you’re on the best electricity and gas offer for your needs.

The number and type of different offers in the market is always changing so it’s important to make sure you’re always on the best offer for your needs. The next article will be around this topic in more detail but here are a couple of the important tips.

Read beyond the headlines.

Sure a big percentage discount is always a good start but it’s not the only thing to take into consideration. Tariffs and the broader value of the offer should be the consideration here. Does the discount to your charges apply to just your usage or the total bill? What if an energy provider offered you the chance to get 5% off your groceries by being a loyal customer as well as a good discount on your energy? How many dollars would you save in a year for your household?  It sometimes pays to step back and look at “total value” rather than just a great looking discount.

Look at the offer relevant to your situation.

This can take a little time at first but it’s important. As mentioned before get to know your energy bill. If Hot water is 30% of your usage then you obviously want a good rate for your off peak tariff as well as the rest of your usage.

If you’re not moving house in the next couple of year’s maybe you’re happy to lock in for this time if it means a better offer from electricity and gas providers?

Do you always pay your bill on time or with a direct debit option? Providers offer incentives in a lot of cases such as additional discounts or credits on the bill for customers like this.

Be sure to look at the key offer features and your own situation to discover the best value.

Get help and save time 

Yes it’s time for the shameless plug but as you can see there is a bit to consider and the easiest way to compare the best electricity and gas offer for you is talk to an unbiased expert.

When we say unbiased we mean an adviser that knows their stuff but is not paid different fees by different providers meaning they may steer you towards certain offers. This is where Uchoose is different from any other as we receive the same fee if you’re switching from your current provider regardless so we talk to you about the best offer for you – not us.  

You can go online or talk to one of our advisors to help you find the best offer for your needs which saves time of ringing around a number of providers. It’s free, easy and takes 5 minutes.

3.     Don’t “set and forget” 

This is the biggest trap and the easiest one to fall into. Your usage changes with seasons, as your family grows in size and age and other lifestyle decisions like buying new appliances.

Look for changes. The easiest way to do this is use the arrival of your energy bill in the mail to ask the question every three months “has anything changed in the home” to make sure you’re always on top of those big ticket items.

Also be aware that tariffs change at least once a year in each state ( Victoria in January and NSW, SA and QLD in July ) so of course new offers come and go from the various providers all the time.

And in relation to new electricity and gas offers the advice would be to keep it in mind at least annually with price movements to ensure you’re scanning the market for the best offer for your needs. (And remember we’re just a phone call or email away)

Hope this helps. The next blog will be a more detailed look at what to keep in mind when shopping and comparing the best electricity and gas offer for your needs.

Feel free to drop us a line if you have another subject or topic you would like us to discuss. We’re here to help you save time and make the right choices. Just choose how to talk to us by clicking here.