Summary

  • Small changes in the home and garden can have a large impact on your energy and water bills.
  • Schemes and programs are available to eligible customer to save on energy in the home.

In the home

We spend a lot of our household budget just keeping things running. The chart below gives a breakdown of the average Victorian household energy expenditure. You can see that heating is the biggest energy expense.

Energy costs for an average Victorian house (Source: Sustainability Victoria, 2013) Heating – 32%. White goods – 17%. Hot water – 16%. Lighting – 11%. TV, home entertainment & IT equipment – 10%. Other electrical appliances – 8%. Cooking – 4%. Cooling – 2%.

Small changes can have a big impact on your energy bill:

  • Insulate your house – ceiling insulation can save you up to 45 per cent on your heating bills, and will help to keep you cooler in summer too.
  • Set your heating thermostat between 18°C and 20°C; every one degree higher can increase your bill by 10 per cent.
  • Seal gaps  and cracks in external walls, floors and the ceiling. Seal external doors using draught seals or ‘door snakes’ and weather strips on the frames.
  • Close blinds, curtains, windows and doors on cold days to keep the heat in. On sunny winter days, open curtains on north-facing windows to let the sun heat your house for free.
  • Switch off appliances at the wall when you’re not using them – including those with lights indicating they are on standby. Appliances on ‘standby’ can add over $100 on your annual power bill.
  • Your fridge runs 24 hours a day, all year. It is your most expensive appliance – ensure your door seal is tight and free from gaps. Replace damaged seals.
  • Wash your clothes  in cold water – this can save you up to $100 a year depending on the size and energy rating of your washing machine.
  • Clothes dryers are expensive to run. Dry your clothes on a line or rack – even in winter.
  • A fan is cheaper to run than an air-conditioner, but don’t risk your health – cooling uses only a small portion of energy over the year.

Energy myths busted:

  • It is cheaper and more energy efficient to turn your heater off if you are going out for longer than half an hour, and to turn it off overnight.
  • Turning the lights off when you leave a room, even fluorescent ones, is cheaper than leaving them on and will not reduce their life expectancy.

For more energy-saving tips in the home visit the Sustainability Victoria website or call 1300 363 744.

In summer, we pull down our outside blinds before the sun hits the windows. It helps stop the house from getting too hot. It means we run the air conditioner a bit less too.
- Xiaomei

Discount schemes and programs

Home Energy Saver Scheme

Concerned about your gas and electricity bills? The Australian Government’s Home Energy Saver Scheme (HESS) can help. HESS provides free, independent and expert advice on how to save energy in the home.

HESS can help eligible Victorians by offering:

  • Free home visits to help you find out exactly what is using the most energy in your home.
  • Help to access no or low-interest loans to buy energy-efficient appliances.
  • Help understanding your energy bills.

Freecall 1800 685 682 to book a free home visit or simply to get some help over the phone.

Victoria’s Energy Saver Incentive scheme

  • The Victorian Government’s Energy Saver Incentive scheme offers discounts and special deals on selected energy- saving products and appliances through participating businesses.
  • Businesses may include your energy retailer, or your local sustainability companies, appliance store, plumber, builder and other tradespeople.
  • You may be eligible to receive discounts on: water heating; heating and cooling; weather proofing and insulation; lighting; standby power controllers; showerheads; a television; a refrigerator and freezer; clothes dryers and pool pumps.

Flexible pricing

  • If your home is fitted with a ‘remotely read’ smart meter you can access a new ‘flexible pricing’ structure for your electricity bills from mid September 2013.
  • With ‘flexible pricing’ the price of electricity is higher during peak hours and lower at other times. You can pay less for electricity when you use power outside peak hours.
  • Changing to ‘flexible pricing’ is voluntary and won’t happen without your consent. It also won’t be right for everyone so do your research to determine if it could benefit you.
  • You can change your mind. Until March 2015, if you have switched to a ‘flexible pricing’ plan with your current retailer, you can switch back to your previous rate structure at any time without incurring an administration fee.
  • However – depending on your contract, some additional fees or charges may still be payable when switching back to your old plan. Remember – you will always have a choice of rates, including a flat rate if this is your preference.

For more information about the Energy Saver Incentive scheme or ‘flexible pricing’ visit the SwitchOn website or contact the customer service centre on 13 61 86. You can also phone your energy retailer to find out what ‘flexible’ plans are available to you.

Compare and save on electricity and gas

  • The Victorian Government’s Your Choice website lets you compare your energy consumption against the deals offered by a range of electricity and gas retailers. With new ‘flexible’ electricity pricing here from mid September 2013, the Switch On website will feature an electricity price comparative tool for you to compare retailer offers.

Whether you need a new energy plan or just want to check if you’ve got the best plan for you – check with your retailer for better options for your budget and usage.

Complaints about electricity, gas or water supply

Savings on phone and internet

  • Many telecommunications companies also offer incentives for ‘bundling’ your bills – such as having your mobile, home phone and internet with the same supplier.
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) website can help you compare mobile phone plans and offers. Visit www.acma.gov.au and type ‘mobile phone plans made easier’ in the search box.
  • Some, but not all, telecommunications companies have cooling-off periods. Before signing a contract look at your telecommunication company’s Critical Information Summary for details.

 Government assistance is available to help eligible Victorians with household expenses. Check the entitlements, concessions and rebates section to find out what’s available.

Complaints about telecommunication companies

In the garden

Gardening is a wonderful way to get outdoors – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

  • Plant in pots if you don’t have much space.
  • Home-grown produce is fresher and tastes better.
  • Save money by growing your own food.

The Discount Directory has many businesses that offer ‘Gardening and Nursery’ discount products.

Saving water

With water bills on the increase, saving water means saving money.

  • Keep an eye on the weather, and only water if there’s no rain forecast.
  • Consider buying a diverter to redirect water from your downpipes into a water bin with a tap. Diverters can be bought from hardware stores or most garden centres.
  • Water-efficient sprinkler systems like dripper systems deliver the right amount of water directly to plant roots. It means you don’t have to physically water the garden or lose water through evaporation.
  • Recycle grey water from your washing machine. Use a garden-friendly laundry detergent, and simply connect a long hose to your washing machine or get a plumber to set up something more sophisticated.
  • A 75 mm layer of mulch reduces evaporation by as much as 70 per cent, as well as discouraging weeds, preventing erosion and keeping soil temperatures even. Contact your local council to see if they offer free or discounted mulch.
  • Use drought-resistant plants, and plant in groups of plants that need a similar amount of water to prevent over or under watering. Water according to the Permanent Water Saving Rules (PWSRs) in place across Victoria – visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website or call 13 61 86.

 Many water authorities will swap your old-style shower head for a water-saving one for free.

Information and rebates

  • You can also get rebates for purchasing water- efficient products and appliances, and even for having a water conservation audit done. Read about the Living Victoria Water Rebate Program
  • Your local water authority has water-saving tips and rebate information. Or contact the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning at www.delwp.vic.gov.au or by calling 13 61 86. 

It takes a while for our shower to heat up. We collect those first few litres of cold water in a bucket for the garden.
- Xiaomei