See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

Category: #savingelectricity

No one (we hope) knowingly wastes power. It’s a totally unnecessary strain on finances and takes valuable monthly budget away from other expenses. But despite this, wasting power is a very common occurrence across New Zealand. In this article, we’re going to talk about 10 things that New Zealand households are known for doing that might be wasting power and considerable amounts of money each year. Find ways to reduce these behaviours and you’ll start to notice it in your energy costs.

1. Showering for too long

Did you know that a 15 minute warm shower can cost $1? If a 4-person household all takes 15 minute showers that's almost $1,500 a year! Despite what our individual preferences may be for showering (for example some of us may need to take the odd longer shower to wash our hair), the reality is that showering on a normal day only needs to take 4-5 minutes. Of course the shower should be relaxing and pleasant, but mounted up, long showers really start to waste power.

If you’ve got a particularly long showerer in the house (some people can spend half an hour or more!) then this could really be costing your budget dearly over time. 

The other issue with showers running for too long is in the prep time that some Kiwis allow for. Most hot water systems and showers will only take 15-30 seconds at most to warm up to the desired level so running the shower for 5 minutes while you sort out the day’s outfit, use the toilet or clear up the breakfast table is simply not necessary. Imagine the cost of an unused, running shower each day could actually be costing over $100 a year!

We’re sure you’ve got much better ideas for that money.

 

2. Not using the right heater for the job

For optimal comfort in our homes, the temperature should be between 18-21 degrees. Heat pumps can bring the room temperature up to desired warmth in about 30 minutes, but should really only be used in the lounge area or large living areas for efficiency. So what about the other areas of the house that require that optimal heating standard of 18-21 degrees? Opting for a heat transfer system will help to circulate heat throughout different rooms. Whilst this may be a more expensive option as far as the installation cost, the ongoing running of the heat pump will significantly help to keep your power bill down in the long run vs. many standalone options.

This option isn’t always financially viable for Kiwi families, so it’s important to know that choosing the right heater for the job will help to keep you warm and toasty. For example, a fan heater should only be used for small rooms and shorter bursts - not ideal for those particularly cold days that need ongoing heat running! You may wish to opt for an oil heater with a thermostat instead. These units sustain the heat and can be set on a timer for those early morning temperature drops. When shopping for heaters, remember to look at the wattage; the higher the watts, the more capable it will be of heating efficiently!

3. Not closing off drafts 

Closing or blocking off draughts is the one of the most cost effective ways of keeping heat in. Draughts can account for up to 35% of heat loss. There’s nothing worse than sitting in your warm lounge and feeling a chilly breeze - that's literally your money breezing you by and out the window!

 Here are some low-admin and cost-effective ways of not blowing out the budget:

● tighten hinges on windows and doors

● apply a weather proof sealant to any draughts

● blocking off unused open fireplaces

● resealing the cat door

● closing doors to unused rooms

● Investing in thermal curtains

Double glazing all windows and doors is the best solution for year round comfort. But that can be expensive. Many Kiwi homeowners will prioritise the different rooms around the home and start by replacing the most ‘lived in areas’ first. You might have to roll out the door snakes in the interim!

4. Poor insulation

Under the Healthy Homes Standards, it is a requirement for all rental homes to be properly insulated top-to-bottom and we can see why: Poor insulation loses heat faster and according to Level.org.nz, up to 35% can be lost through the ceiling, 31% through windows and 25% through walls - Brrr! This can create moisture and mould, which can be detrimental to your health. Did you know that insulation isn’t only beneficial in the colder months? A properly insulated ceiling will help to keep the heat from transferring into your home, keeping you cooler during those scortcher NZ summers, too. 

 

With NZ’s ‘Warmer Kiwi Home Programme’ you could be eligible to have up to 80% of your home insulated subsidised, helping you to keep warmer, healthier and the added bonus of a lower power bill!

5. Lights on in every room

Switching lights off can get frustrating for parents who feel like they’re chasing around after the kids. Lights on a room that isn’t being used is one of those power wasting habits that might not be noticeable in the short term, but mounts up when it happens in all rooms, every day, all month.

Lights don’t need to be on anywhere that someone isn’t currently spending time. If the family is finding it hard to remember, introduce a game or reward for switching them off until it becomes a habit.

 6. Preheating ovens for too long

Do you know that the average oven takes around 10-15 minutes to preheat to a standard cooking temperature of between 180 and 200 degrees? As you can imagine, an oven draws significant power during operation (around 2400 watts), and just an hour a day of running time can cost around $220 a year.

When the oven is switched on and brought up to the desired temperature, it’s important to have the food prepared and in as soon as it's ready. Unfortunately it’s common for Kiwis to overestimate the preheating time or simply leave the oven on before it’s being used. When this becomes a daily habit, the costs will be felt in your monthly power bill. 

A handy tip - set a stopwatch on your phone when you switch the oven on and stay nearby to hear when it’s preheated (some have a light that audibly clicks off, others have an alarm), when you see it reach the preheated temperature, stop the clock. You’ll have your preheating time guide now to use every day thereafter. This can be helpful when thinking about preparation activities, switching the oven on when you know you’re that period of time away from being ready to cook.

7. Running the dryer in fine weather

A 1500 watt dryer running for 1.5 hours per day can end up costing households over $200 a year, making it one of the most expensive appliances to run. Understandably, in the wetter seasons it’s better for your health and home to be using a modern, more efficient dryer, but using a dryer during fine weather not only runs up the power bill, but is a major cause for carbon emissions. The Waterline states that one household tumble dryer emits about 432kgs a year! That’s more than a tree can absorb in 50 years - yikes! Not only that, but it can ruin your clothes twice as fast than just washing and air drying.

So, before you opt for chucking a load into the dryer consider these tips and your wallet and environment will thank you! 

● Air dry outside and then finish off in the dryer

● Separate your laundry, (heavy and light weight items)

● Don’t dry heavy things like towels and bed clothes at home but consider outside if fine, or a commercial dryer locally with units that are built to take the full load at once. 

8. Not packing the dishwasher fully before running it

There is an art to dishwasher packing. Ensuring that all dishes are neatly fit in and able to be rinsed effectively needs a certain degree of effort. A good modern dishwasher will clean a full load of dirty dishes on an eco setting without issue. Households sometimes make the mistake of running the dishwasher at a certain time of the day regardless of how many dishes and cutlery is packed inside. Some may even run it twice each day. Most standard size households can get away with once per day, and this should be only once the dishwasher is at full capacity. Think about it - running a dishwasher can cost $0.68 a cycle. That’s around $250 a year. Do you really want to spend $500 a year instead? That extra $250 buys a decent grocery shop, Christmas presents or 3+ months of internet instead! 

Just take care not to overload the dishwasher - doing so might prevent some dishes from getting cleaned properly, requiring another cycle and costing you more in the process.

9. Running a warm wash when it’s not needed 

Our laundry powders and detergents have come a long way from the good old fashioned elbow grease over a washboard days. Many powders and detergents are designed to be used in cold water with the same cleaning benefits you’d see from doing a warm wash. An average top loader warm wash could be costing you 75c a load, or more than $270 a year.

10. Not actively monitoring usage with the retailer dashboard

They say knowledge is power, and it really is with electricity use. By having the intel right in front of you as to when and how much power is being used across the day or week, you can start to recognise patterns and identify which behaviours are causing the biggest usage. 

Get the whole family involved and use the information to work out what each person in the home can do to help bring their energy cost down.

Want to start saving on the power bill each month?

You can start by getting a price simply through providing your home address. Or, upload your latest power bill and our team can provide you with an estimate on how much you could save with Powershop.

Further reading

● Powershop’s full guide on Saving Electricity

Save power at home - Powershop

13 ways you're wasting electricity that are costing you - Business Insider