Two months after our move we received the first of our utility bills, the gas and the electricity. They were BIG, I’m talking seriously HUGE bills, double our usual winter utility bills and it was only for the last half of winter, argh!! It put a spanner in the works of renovation plans, not only in the paying of them, but also in the avoidance of future such scary bills.
We’re planning a new gas (or solar/gas boosted) hot water system and also replacing the inefficient central heating with more efficient gas room heaters or split systems. We’ve still got a bit of research to do to work out what options would be best and what we can afford, but whatever we go with it will eat into our new carpet/curtains budget.
It seems I’m not the only one to find themselves facing astronomical energy bills. The City House over as City Garden, Country Garden, was also sucking the energy at a rapid rate and the gardener kindly, and bravely, shared their experience. She has been active in finding out where all that power was going, using a Powermate to discover the worst offending applicance. I’ll have to look into this myself, although my biggest bill was the gas bill which means it’s either the hot water service or the heater (or more likely both!).
Like the advice she was given much of our problem stems from not heating efficiently. Firstly our central heating is through the roof, which means the ceiling area in our 14 foot high rooms are really warm but where we are down at ground level it’s still freezing. However, even the rooms with lowered ceilings are cold (yes, even after paying a fortune we were STILL COLD). The house is drafty, the window coverings in some rooms are inadequate and the floor boards are bare in the living areas.
So between now and next winter I have a list of things to get done….
1. New heaters in family room and lounge room (room heaters instead of central heating)
2. Heavy curtains to replace the Venetian and Roman blinds in the same rooms.
3. Large floor rug and hallway runner for the lounge room.
4. Draft-proof around the doors and windows.
Our hot water system is also an issue. We were warned it was nearing the end of its life when we moved in, it’s expensive to run and not terribly reliable. When we first moved in you could only have one shower before the hot water ran out. After we got the enormous bill I did some research and was shocked to discover that just by switching to a water efficient shower head you can save up to 50% of the gas used for hot water…. 50%! I went straight out to the local water suppliers and swapped our old shower head with a free water saving shower head. We can now have three or more showers one after the other without running out of water. Such a simple change, if you haven’t done it at your place I would highly recommend it.
I have other things on my to do list in order to save gas and electricity. They include…
1. Do a full switch of light globes to low energy one. I’ve done most, but some need odd sized globes or are problematic to change given their height and location.
2. Re-install the stand-by power savers on the tv and computer.
3. Change light fittings in some rooms so they don’t require three globes (or five as in the lounge room)
4. Install fans so we don’t need to use the air conditioner too much.
5. Find an alternative for the halogen downlights in the kitchen/family room.
6. Save up for a solar power system as we had in our previous house.
I might find this list change somewhat if I manage to do a proper audit with a powermate, but these are my thoughts so far. All these changes should reduce our power bills, but while the money matters, it also indicates just how unsustainable our current usage is and this is far more important than just the money. So what are you best energy saving tips? Have you managed to reign your usage in and reduce your bills? Or are you struggling with this one as well?