Keep the cold out and bills down with EWON's winter warmers
Heaters, electric blankets, extra hot showers and more time spent inside staying warm are just some of the common reasons why energy consumption can increase over the cooler months.
Quarterly billing means that many households won’t see how charges add up for several months and some solar customers will receive their first winter bill in a long time, so it's important to act and think now.
With a little bit of planning and a few simple steps, your household can make informed decisions about energy use that will help you avoid bill shock, debt and even disconnection when winter bills arrive.
Click on the links below to see how you can save power this winter.
Energy saving tips that won't cost you your comfort
By making a few small changes you can start saving power and money today.
Keep the heat in
Before you turn your heater on this winter, make sure your home retains heat. Around a third of a household’s heat can escape through gaps and cracks, so locate draughts and block them with door snakes, curtains and other seals.
Make sure you’re using the correct heating system for your space by checking the best heating systems for different living spaces. An extra layer of clothing and another blanket on your bed will also keep you comfortable in cooler months, so consider these easy options before you turn the heater up.
ACT NOW: Seal drafts, rug up and close doors to save up to 25% of your energy costs
DID YOU KNOW? If you use an air-conditioner for heating set it to 18-21°C in winter. Every degree outside of this range can add up to 10% to your heating costs.
Clean clothes the green way
Hot or warm cycles on your washing machine use a lot of energy, as do clothes dryers. You can make significant savings by switching to cold water for laundry and using nature’s own dryer, the outdoors. If you use the dryer, be sure to spin-dry clothes in the washing machine first. Also avoid overloading the dryer and clean the lint filter regularly. By using the clothes line even to partly dry clothes, you can reduce the time they need in the dryer time and make power and cost savings.
ACT NOW: Switch to cold water washing and use the sun and the wind to dry your laundry.
Don’t pour money down the drain
A leaking hot water system or tap can quickly drive your power consumption – and your bill – up, so fix leaks as quickly as possible. Shorter showers, low flow shower heads and solar hot water are also great ways to reduce your hot water consumption and save money without sacrificing comfort.
DID YOU KNOW? A dripping tap wastes around 2000 litres of water per month
ACT NOW: Fix dripping taps, take shorter showers and consider installing a solar hot water system. See Sydney Water's tips on checking for leaking pipes, taps and toilets.
Maintain your appliances
Keep appliances in good working order by keeping them maintained. Heaters and hot water systems are just some of the appliances that can cause significant increases in your household energy consumption if they are not working properly.
ACT NOW: For more information on maintaining and using your appliances more efficiently, visit energy.gov.au, a Federal Government initiative to help consumers live more sustainably.
Buy energy efficient appliances
National standards for energy efficiency are improving the environmental performance of appliances all the time. Upgrading to a more efficient appliance can save you energy, money, and reduce your carbon footprint. The No Interest Loan Schemes can help you purchase more efficient appliances.
ACT NOW: Learn about energy efficient appliances before you buy
Know what appliances you are running and when
A simple audit of your household can help you measure how much energy you are consuming and at what time of day. An audit is an effective way to:
• understand your energy usage
• make informed choices about when and how you use appliances
• identify easy power savings you can make that will help save you money
• know what to expect when the bill arrives.
To start saving on your energy bills, consider a home energy assessment. You can hire an accredited professional to come to your home to help identify where you can save, or you can assess your own home using a Save Power Kit. Parramatta, Kuring-Gai and Ryde councils offer home energy audits, and other councils, including Randwick and Hornsby, run sustainability workshops.
ACT NOW: The Save Power Kit is an easy way to assess your space so you can start saving energy. Head to a local library to borrow a free, fun and educational Save Power Kit to learn where you can reduce energy in your home.
Find out what your appliances are actually costing you
You might be surprised to discover which appliances in your home are contributing the most to your bill. Your computer may be consuming more power than common whitegoods and a games console on idle might be costing you more than running a fridge.
To calculate how much an electrical appliance is costing you to run each year, you need to know your energy rate(s), which is shown on your power bill in kilowatt hours (kWh), and the amount of power the product uses in kilowatts (kW), which is shown on the energy rating sticker on your product. With this information, you can check the energy consumption and running cost using the Smarter Choice calculator.
Switch off to save
It’s easy to forget to switch off appliances you aren’t using, but leaving them on standby can use up to seven percent of your power bill. Here are a few things you can switch off to start saving now: computer monitors; games consoles; TVs; modems; coffeemakers; phone and electronic device chargers not being used; lamps; spas; and pool pumps.
Consider switching for a better offer
The right energy offer can save you money, but it needs to suit your circumstances and consumption pattern. Be sure to read the fine print and check our advice before you agree to transfer your account. You should also be aware that commercial 'switch' services may not cover all retailers or all offers available.
ACT NOW: For free and independent comparison of energy offers, visit the Australian Energy Regulator's Energy Made Easy website.
Want more information? Download our factsheet Saving energy & water around the home.
Plan for the bill
If you’re having difficulty managing payments on your bills, seek help early to access assistance and avoid the extra stress of mounting debt and disconnection.
Manage high bills and arrears to avoid utility debt
You can speak with your supplier to discuss a manageable payment plan and keep connected to essential energy services. You can also make use of free assistance such as financial counselling and money management resources to help you get your bills under control. If you can’t come to an agreement with your supplier about a payment arrangement, we can help.
All NSW electricity and gas retailers must operate a customer assistance program to help consumers experiencing financial hardship manage payments and avoid disconnection. If you can’t pay your bill on time, contact your supplier early to arrange a payment plan.
Offering independent, practical advice about money management and simple strategies to help you control your household budget, the MoneySmart website provides a range of tools, calculators and other helpful resources.
Credit and debt hotline
If you’re having payment difficulties with multiple bills, help is available from the Financial Rights Legal Centre. For financial advice about credit, banking and debt recovery, call the credit and debt hotline on 1800 007 007.
If you have been credit listed, we strongly advise you to avoid ‘credit repair’ agents and access free Ombudsman services instead.
Financial counsellors provide free support, advice and education to people experiencing financial problems. This community service is free and is available state-wide. Find a financial counsellor near you.
If you receive Centrelink payments and are having trouble managing your energy and water bills, consider signing up to Centrepay. This system deducts money from your Centrelink payment and pays it into your nominated utility account.
Want more information? Download our factsheet Difficulty paying bills.
Rebates and assistance
Did you know that if you're having difficulty with your power bills, you may be able to get rebates and other assistance? Be sure you receive all the help you're eligible for.
Rebates in NSW
The NSW Government offers several rebates to help households pay their utility bills. Rebates are available to eligible families, low income households and households running life support and certain medical equipment. Most rebates can be claimed through your energy provider or the Government. Read more about rebates to find out what you are eligible for and how to apply.
Federal Government payments and allowances
If you receive a pension you can apply for the Utilities Allowance to help with your energy and water bills. If you or someone in your household needs specific equipment, such as heating or cooling devices, for medical reasons, you may also be eligible to receive the Essential Medical Equipment Payment.
Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA)
The EAPA voucher system helps people who are having trouble paying their electricity or gas bill because of a crisis or emergency situation. The vouchers are issued by community welfare organisations.
Water Payment Assistance Scheme (PAS)
Sydney Water, Shoalhaven Water and Hunter Water customers are experiencing financial hardship may be able to access a credit through PAS schemes.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)
The NILS scheme offers $800 - $1200 zero interest loans to people who are experiencing financial hardship. These loans help consumers buy or replace essential household items and medical equipment and can be accessed through community agencies. See if you are eligible for a NILS loan.
Appliance replacement offer
The Appliance replacement offer is a NSW Government initiative designed to help low income households reduce energy costs by replacing old appliances with new energy efficient models. Learn more and see if you’re eligible for this offer.
Want more information? Download our factsheet High bills.
Energy saving myths - busted!
NSW energy and water consumers usually contact EWON to make a complaint but our team of Investigators can also give you free advice and information, including how to safely save energy and water around the home, so you can save money too.
Here are just a few of the energy and water saving myths we've busted for consumers.
MYTH: "Bring the BBQ inside for cooking and a bit of extra warmth".
BUSTED: It is really dangerous to use a gas or coal BBQ indoors for heating and cooking. Hot BBQs release carbon monoxide into the air and when this gas can't escape it becomes poisonous and could be deadly for you and your family. For safe ways to keep the heat in this winter, see EWON's Winter Warmers.
MYTH: "Heat a few wheat packs in the microwave and hop into bed with them – they’ll keep you toasty!"
BUSTED: Heated wheat packs should be used with care. Fire & Rescue NSW reports being called to homes where a fire has started because a heat pack overheated in a microwave or spontaneously ignited under bed covers. Stay fire safe by always following the instructions on your heat pack and keep warm by checking our Winter Warmers.
MYTH: "A gas heater or even an oil column heater is cheaper than firing up the reverse cycle air con."
BUSTED: Not true. Reverse cycle air conditioning is the most efficient method of heating if you have it installed. Remember to seal drafts, only heat the rooms you're using and keep the temperature on your thermostat between 18-21°C in winter. Every degree outside of this range can add an extra 10% to your heating costs. See EWON’s Winter Warmers for more heating tips.
MYTH: "Using energy at night is always cheaper."
BUSTED: Using energy at night is only cheaper if you’re on a time of use tariff. A time of use tariff means the price you'll be charged for electricity will vary depending on the time of day you use it. Your electricity bill should clearly state the type of tariff you're being charged. To find a tariff that's right for you see these tips from Energy Made Easy.
MYTH: "I still have my 40-year-old Hallstrom refrigerator – what a great fridge!"
BUSTED: Unfortunately just because something was built to last doesn't mean it's energy efficient. Advances in technology mean that new appliances are likely to save you money in the long run. See EWON’s Winter Warmers for tools you can use to compare the running costs of appliances and to check if you're eligible for programs that can help you purchase energy efficient appliances and white goods.