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Money matters story

1309568757 16 Money matters story

Melanie Hardwick is rugging up to save money this winter. Picture: Bob Barker Source: National Features

WARMING yourself, your home and your shower during winter can add greatly to your energy bills, but there are simple steps that will keep those costs under control.

AGL’s retail sales and distribution general manager, mark Brownfield, says the average winter electricity bill excluding GST is $350. Gas bills in Queensland average $130.

But he says many consumers can cut those bills by as much as 30 per cent.

Brownfield says the two biggest users of energy in the home are heating and cooling at 39 per cent and hot water, at 27 per cent.

"when you’re heating the home the ideal temperature you’ll set the heater on is 18 to 20C ," he says. "For every 1C higher that you heat the house, it can cost you up to 15 per cent more on your energy bill for that appliance."

He also says people should close the doors to cold rooms such as the bathroom and laundry and any spare rooms that don’t need heating, let the sunshine in on sunny days but close curtains at night.

Brownfield says people should have their hot water temperature set at 55 to 60C, and install water-efficient shower heads.

Clothes washing can also increase in winter but he says people should always wash in cold water and use the shortest washing cycle where possible.

Ensuring all light globes are energy efficient can save consumers up to $150 a year.

Advocacy group DoSomething! and national consumer group choice this month launched a joint campaign to help consumers cut energy and fuel bills by 10 per cent.

DoSomething! founder and managing director Jon Dee says households are spending more than $24 billion a year on energy and fuel and a 10 per cent reduction could put more than $2 billion back into consumers’ pockets.

He says a 10 per cent cut in energy bills is easy and with some effort most households can achieve a 20 per cent cut.

Dee says one tip is to only put as much water as you need in the kettle each time you boil it, rather than filling it.

"If you boil a 1.5 litre kettle full it uses the same amount of power as powering an efficient fridge for four hours," he says.

Installing solar hot water heaters, ensuring the home is insulated and replacing older appliances with more energy efficient ones can also significantly reduce energy bills.

Melanie Hardwick (pictured) would rather snuggle under an extra blanket this winter than pay higher energy bills.

Hers was among the first families to join 10 per cent Challenge and are aiming to shave about $60 a quarter off their energy bills.

"The heaters are like a last resort now," Hardwick says.

She says she is even being careful about how often she boils the kettle for a cup of tea. "Every time you put the kettle on to boil it costs 70 and, before, I used to just boil it all the time."


 Get all the latest personal finance news and expert advice in the Your Money liftout every Monday.

You’ll find it in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, Herald Sun, The Advertiser and The Mercury.



<a href=",2005:cluster=, 20 Jun 2011 00:40:43 GMT 00:00″>Money matters story

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