Hacks for saving money in winter
Combat winter chills with these top tips to beat your power bill into submission and keep cosy
The best way to keep your home warm in winter is to keep the heat in.
Even in the coldest months, when the sun is shining through your windows it warms the inside of your house.
The trick is to keep the heat from escaping at night.
As much as a third of your home's heat can escape through windows, doors, and cracks in ceilings and floors that aren’t insulated.
Eliminating drafts and insulating your home can save between 15%¹ of annual heating bills for a typical New Zealand house. According to NZ Compare², the average annual power bill for a medium-sized dwelling in New Zealand is about $2,200.
Cutting your energy bill by 15% will result in an annual saving of roughly $330. That’s around $1,000 every few years!
So, let the sun in and close the curtains when it gets dark, keep doors shut, and if you feel a draft, block it with a draft stopper.
Turn it down a notch
Although household heating systems are becoming more energy efficient, heating still accounts for about 23% of the average Kiwi power bill.
Popping on some warmer clothes and lowering the thermostat on your heating a few degrees while you sleep at night can help reduce your power consumption significantly. In addition, limiting your use of electric blankets and heated towel rails can also help you save on power without having a major impact on your day to day life.
A smart thermostat also can be programmed to warm your home just before you get up in the morning and save power when you’re at work or asleep. Even smarter ones allow you to control your heating (and cooling) system by mobile app.
Use your power wisely
Using your most power hungry appliances at times when electricity costs less has the advantage of saving you money and shifting your use away from carbon intensive, ‘peak’ electricity generation times.
These peaks are expensive because demand is high, and often require gas, coal and oil fired power plants to come online to make sure there’s enough electricity for everyone. Whereas ‘off-peak’ can usually be supplied with planet friendly renewable generation like wind and hydro.
Our hydro lakes are basically big batteries that can store power. But on the coldest winter nights, when all the heaters are on, we need more electricity than our renewable resources can supply.
Octopus Energy lower priced rates at Night and Off-Peak times are part of our wider goal of ‘intelligent demand’ to help our customers get smart about their energy use, and save!
Knowing how much power you use around the house helps you understand where you can make changes to stay warm and save.
The average Kiwi household power bill breaks down like this:
Water heating 27%
Space heating /cooling 23%
Home electronics 21%
Clothes washing/drying 2%
If you consider the things you do everyday, there are ways to save energy in every room of the house.
Small changes make a big difference over time, and the easiest way to save power can simply be flicking a switch.
Take a quick tour of your home
Switch off lights in rooms you aren’t using or won’t be in for a while
Need to replace light bulbs? Choose LEDs. They’ll keep you well lit while saving you money. Just one LED bulb uses 90% less energy and lasts up to 25 times longer.
Try not to open the oven door to check on your food — the temperature may drop as much as 25 degrees, requiring more energy to heat up again.
Don’t spend more time preheating your oven than you need to
Use a microwave to heat food as it can be more efficient than an oven
Turn appliances off at the wall if you’re not using them
Run your dishwasher when it’s completely full using the economy wash setting
Only fill your kettle up with the water you need to boil
Cover your pots and pans with lids when heating food or liquids
Regularly defrost your fridges and freezers so they run more efficiently
Regularly clean the grill behind your fridges and freezers
Try and keep the beer fridge switched off, or turned down to use less energy, during winter
Use cold water for laundry and wash full loads to save on energy and water heating. A cold water wash uses up to 10 times less energy³ with each load.
Only run your washing machine when you have a full load
Air dry laundry when you can instead of using a dryer
If you need to use the dryer, be sure to keep the filters clean as a clogged filter can reduce efficiency
Hot water is likely to be the biggest charge on your power bill.
ERANZ, which runs a free coaching service energymate.nz⁴ to help families struggling to cover their power bills say you could save around $450 a year on your power bill just by cutting five minutes off your daily shower? That’s based on the average family of four.
Lowering the thermostat on your hot water heating* can also help save electricity without adversely affecting the amount of hot water available.
Because the cost and availability of electricity varies throughout the day, it makes sense to control your water heating to use electricity when it's less expensive, and take advantage of your cylinders insulation to retain the heat in between.
You can read more about hacking hot water to save money here
Choose showers over baths as they’re usually more energy efficient
Cut down your shower time — use a timer so you don’t lose track of time
Fix any leaking taps as soon as they start leaking.
*NOTE: The Ministry of Health recommend 60 degrees Celsius or higher to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria
TV and games consoles
Make sure your TV’s standard or normal picture setting is selected and that energy-saving features like automatic brightness control are enabled.
Enable ‘auto power down’ on your gaming console to ensure it goes into low-power mode when not in use.
EnergyMate estimates using power management features and turning off appliances at the wall can save you more than $100 a year.
Also, avoid accessing streaming video through your game console. A game console can use 10 to 25 times more energy to stream a movie than a set top box or app on your smart TV according to the Natural Energy Defense Council⁵.
Computers and other tech
Most of us have computers and devices switched on all the time for work, school, entertainment, and socialising, especially when we spend more time indoors in cold weather. This hikes energy use, and bills.
Using the energy saver, low power, or battery saver mode on your devices can go a long way towards reducing energy consumption without sacrificing performance.
Powering appliances on standby⁶ can account for around 5% of your average yearly electricity bill, so it’s worth turning that switch off once the battery is full, or when you’re not using the appliance.
Charge them at night and off-peak.
Beware of Vampires
Finally, make sure you shut down any appliances you’re not using. Idle devices may still be consuming power in standby mode.
Be vigilant and curb energy waste from devices that appear to be switched off but are still using electricity, AKA ‘energy vampires’.
Energy systems are changing and as we transition towards renewably generated electricity like wind, solar and hydro, we can continue using fossil fuels to manage variability, which is both expensive and bad for the environment, or we can start using electricity more intelligently to balance the grid.
We’ve introduced technology to New Zealand that’s been trialled in the UK to allow us to remotely control household appliances and other energy intensive devices, like EV charging and heat pumps.
Help us test drive Intelligent Octopus.