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. Making small changes can have a big impact on your energy bill.

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.
  • Some clothes dryers are expensive to run. Dry your clothes on a line or rack inside – 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, and turn it back on again when you return or wake up in the morning. (Note: this isn't applicable to storage type heating such as in-slab systems that have a very slow response time).
  • Install a timer allows you to turn your heater on and off automatically, say 20–30 minutes before rising in the morning or getting home in the evening. For standard plug-in heaters, you can buy a simple timer from your local hardware store to do the same job.
  • 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

Victorians on low incomes can receive concessions and benefits to help pay their energy bills. Please refer to the Department of Health and Human Services Concessions page for further information on what you may be eligible for and visit the Victorian Energy Compare website to compare energy prices and get the best deals.

Flexible pricing

Flexible pricing means your electricity retailer charges you different rates for electricity at different times of the day. Power used in off-peak or shoulder times is cheaper than power used at peak times. Your smart meter ensures accuracy by monitoring your energy use every 30 minutes.

  • 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 switch from flexible pricing at any time. However, depending on the contract you have accepted, you may have to pay some additional fees or charges. Discuss any potential costs associated with moving back to your previous plan or another plan with your retailer before accepting a new plan.
  • If you are thinking of changing from flexible pricing, you may want to check offers from other retailers - use Victorian Energy Compare tool to see the best offer for your household. Make sure to check contract conditions before you agree to switch retailer.

For more information about the Energy Saver Incentive scheme or ‘flexible pricing’ visit the Victorian Energy Saver 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.

Check out the Victorian Energy Saver website to see how your energy use compares to others like you.

Compare and save on electricity and gas

 Use the Victorian Energy Compare site. 

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

For information regarding electricity, gas or water supply outages, safety or complaints please visit the Victorian Energy Saver website.

  • If you have a complaint that you are unable  to resolve with your company, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria). Complaints can be lodged online or by phoning 1800 500 509. 

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 ACMA website or their page on Making a mobile service work for you .
  • For internet service provider information visit ACMA internet services page.
  • 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 Department of Health and Human Services website on Concessions to find out what might be available for you.

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, swap surplus produce at a community garden swap meet – for example the City of Yarra has a Urban Harvest food swap meet once a month. Moreland Council has a Food swap service listed. Check in with your Local Council or visit the Local Harvest website to find a swap in your local area.

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

Saving water

Install a water-efficient showerhead

A water-efficient showerhead uses 40 per cent less water. Free replacement of old showerheads with water saving showerheads is an eligible activity under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Scheme. Visit the Sustainability Victoria website for more information . Speak to your local water retailer to see whether they can do this for you, visit the Victorian government page on the water industry.

Keep showers short and sweet

A standard showerhead uses 15 to 25 litres of water per minute. That's around 120 litres of water for an eight minute shower! Keep your showers short and use a timer so you're aware how long you have the water running. You might also consider taking fewer showers.

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.

Purchase water-efficient appliances and use them wisely

If you're buying a new washing machine or dishwasher, make sure it has high water efficiency and energy ratings. Front-loading washing machines are usually the most water efficient, using up to 50% less water. Wait until you have a full load of clothes or dishes before running the machines, using the economy cycle if you have one. If you must run the machines when they’re not full, adjust the water level to suit the size of the load. Visit the Sustainability Victoria website for more information about energy efficient appliances: Purchase water-efficient appliances and use them wisely.

If you're buying a new washing machine or dishwasher, make sure it has high water efficiency and energy ratings. Front-loading washing machines are usually the most water efficient, using up to 50% less water. Wait until you have a full load of clothes or dishes before running the machines, using the economy cycle if you have one. If you must run the machines when they’re not full, adjust the water level to suit the size of the load.

  • Water-efficient sprinkler systems like dripper systems deliver 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. Check on grey water resources or the factsheet from 2015, from Gardening Australia.
  • 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 ,for example Moreland Council sometimes has free mulch for collection, while it is not suitable for use on vegetable patches it is great for native garden beds.
  • 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 the Victorian governments water page or call 13 61 86.
  • Most of us take water for granted. Find out where it comes from and how we use it to sustain the natural environment, communities and help drive the economy. Visit Melbourne Water’s website to find out more about our water.
  • Report an issue

 Many water authorities will swap your old-style shower head for a water-saving one for free. Check with your water corporation. City West water cover 8 city council areas.

Information and rebates

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