There are lots of things I expected with a third child; a doubled energy bill was not one of them!
With 3 small children and a small business, I had heard rumblings about the increased cost of energy but like everything in my life right now, I put my head firmly in the sand and just assumed we would be OK. I expected an increase but I was sure it would be manageable, we had been squirrelling away funds as soon as we realised we were expecting (again) and we are quite an energy conscious as a family, we would be fine. Right?
BOY WAS I WRONG! Our quarterly bill was $950 and we are only in a small 3-bed semi. I had heart failure, especially given I was at the local supermarket buying nappies when I realised I had overdrawn our account. Our bill had increased by 40% so I decided to dig a little (a lot) deeper to understand WHY it was so expensive and WHAT we could possibly do to decrease our bill!
Was it the baby? Of course, it was the baby and the gazillion other things that come along with now being a family of 5. There’s continuous white noise playing so the other two don’t wake her or so we can binge-watch Netflix, I am home far more than I thought I would be.
The working from home, the TV you use as a babysitter so you can start (and sometimes finish) dinner, the meal preparation, the countless kettle boiling for the cups of tea you never drink, the midnight pumping, achieving the perfect room temperature in hope of continuous sleep cycles and all the washing. Oh, the washing.
So looking at it, we’ve been churning through energy without realising.
What can we do about it?
Start by loading your bill here! This new website will tell you in seconds if you can save on your energy bill. In SECONDS!
NEGOTIATE A BETTER DEAL
Do your research. Review your provider and challenge them for a better deal. I managed to get a discount of more than 20% off my energy bill and the entire process from end to end with Origin Energy took 15 minutes. It was so simple that the only thing I am annoyed about is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Another great resource is Energy Made Easy when you have some figures to work with, challenge your current provider for a better deal. I managed to negotiate a discount of more than 20%. For someone whose first unavoidable Centrelink phone call for paid parental leave was a 2.5hour on hold experience, the thought that I could have my energy bill reviewed in minutes, let alone SECONDS, is simply unfathomable to me
REDUCE YOUR ENERGY CONSUMPTION
It’s estimated that the average Australian home uses 40% of its energy for heating and cooling. Short of getting solar (which isn’t an option on our property) we need to find other ways to reduce our consumption while keeping a small human at the optimum temperature to maximise sleep. Let’s face it; having children is far more enjoyable if you get sleep. We have an ancient power chewing split system that we use sparingly as a shortcut for heating and cooling.
It really needs to be updated with a far more energy efficient system. In the interim, we’ve rearranged the furniture in the rooms, popped up some Gro Anywhere block out blinds in each of the children’s bedrooms and grabbed the right TOG sleep sacks from Plum for the baby.
The simple days of Darks, Whites and Pinks are no longer. Now we have darks, whites, pinks, school uniforms, sports gear, swimming gear, daycare clothes, beach gear and linen!
Forget about a baby registry if you are expecting; just send pegs and lots of them or a laundry service voucher! Family gastro contributed to washing in a way I would rather forget, think 27 loads of washing on a medical grade wash over one fun-filled memorable weekend. As much as it was a one-off (thankfully), there is a lot of washing with a family of 5, a lot! Short of running with a family Von Trapp type uniform, large amounts of washing with a family is as certain as deaths and taxes
So to minimise the energy expense of our washing we:
- Set the timer to run the washing machine during Off Peak
- Don’t use the dryer (unless in the middle of family gastro), our climate is perfect for hanging washing and sunshine is the very best (and cheapest) stain remover.
Do you remember the days where you were able to shave legs (both of them), shampoo and condition your hair, wash your face and enjoy the hot water? Nope? Me neither but apparently, hot water uses around 25% of your home’s energy – and is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Limiting your showers to 4 minutes will help your bottom line and the environment.
Use energy efficient lamps in each room. We’ve had LED down-lights installed and they are on separate circuits so we don’t need all of them on at once.
Small appliances can use 5% of the average home’s energy, so turn all small appliances off at the wall when you are not using them. Using our slow cooker instead of our high energy consuming induction cooktop came as a surprise. Origin also has some useful energy efficiency tips here.