By Darryl Budge
As your household bills rise due to heating costs here are a few tips to save this winter.
Switch off appliances, computers and laptops at the wall switch. According to Choice, entertainment appliances sit on standby more than 80% of the year, which could cost you up to $100 per year. A laptop power pack that feels warm will be drawing power even if it is not attached to your laptop. A powerboard with individual switches, or a long-cord inline switch like EcoSwitch may be used to turn off those unneeded appliances.
Switch to more energy efficient appliances. Check out Energyrating.gov.au for a ratings database and a very useful Energy Rating Calculator. The calculator asks for a star rating, or the brand and model of an appliance, the purchase price, then tells you the total cost of ownership.
Switch electricity or gas supplier. You can compare electricity and gas retailer offers at EnergyMadeEasy.gov.au (not available for WA residents). In WA, only gas is privatised so far, but all other states have a choice of private retail energy suppliers.
Insulate your roof or ceiling, block wind draughts around doors (using a door snake), and opt for thermal-backed curtains that when closed at night will keep the heat in.
Save on fuel using new mobile apps that rely on crowd-sourced info like Fuel Map Australia, GasBuddy (of North American origin) or Petrol Spy. For Android users in WA, Bowser Watch is a top app, using info from the FuelWatch government website. 7-Eleven has chosen the unique approach of enabling customers to lock-in a low price via their mobile app "7-Eleven Fuel", then 'redeem' that price up to seven days later.
Create a household budget. The ASIC website MoneySmart.gov.au has some invaluable budgeting tips and easy-to-use planners. Start by clicking on "Managing your Money". They also have a great Money Health Check at moneysmart.gov.au/Asset/20/index.html
Reduce your grocery spend. MoneySmart recommends buying only what is on your shopping list, taking only the cash allocated in your grocery budget, buy in bulk every fortnight, and eat a meal or snack before shopping, as you will buy less food on a full stomach.•