Cost of living crisis: Tips to slash winter energy bill as cold weather bites

As the cost of living crisis bites and the weather cools down many Kiwis will be keeping a close eye on their power bills. 

And as winter hits, household bills are expected to rise as energy use increases. It comes as 30-year high inflation pushes the price of goods and services sky high. 

To help keep winter energy bills down this year, Consumer New Zealand recommends focusing on six main areas.

Check you're on the right plan

Consumer NZ says switching power providers can save Kiwis hundreds of dollars a year. It recommends using to check whether you're getting the best deal or not. 

Create a cosy bubble

Ensuring your house is as sealed up as it can be is their second tip. You can do this by blocking draughts, installing curtains and using temporary glazing on windows. 

Switch to LED lightbulbs

The next tip from Consumer NZ is to switch to LED lightbulbs where possible. While LED bulbs are more expensive to buy, Consumer NZ says it pays off in the long run. 

"A standard 60W incandescent bulb costs about 50¢, but only lasts about 1000 hours. An equivalent LED light bulb costs $18, but lasts about 15,000 hours. If the light is on for three hours a day, the incandescent will use about $17 worth of electricity a year compared with the LED's $2.70. That's a saving of $14.30 each year," Consumer NZ's website says. 

Turn off lights and appliances

The next tip is a fairly straightforward one - turn off appliances when you're not using them. Consumer NZ says many household appliances needlessly suck up power when left on. For example, heated towel rails can cost about 49¢ a day - nearly $180 a year. 

Check your hot water cylinder

A lesser-known trick is wrapping your hot water cylinder if it is an older electric one that is not insulated. 

Consumer NZ says wrapping it is fairly simple. It can be done by measuring your cylinder then picking up some hot water cylinder wrap from your local hardware store. 

Tips and tricks for wrapping your cylinder can be found here

Consumer NZ also recommends checking your water isn't being overheated - it needs to be 60°C to prevent bacteria growing, but doesn't need to be any hotter. An extra 10°C on the thermostat could be costing $25 a year. Hot water can account for about 30 percent of household energy usage, so it's worth thinking about where you can reduce it, Consumer NZ says. 

Keep the house dry

The final tip is keeping your house dry. This can be done by avoiding drying washing inside, using extractor fans for kitchens and bathrooms, and regularly airing the home - even if it's cold outside. 

If none of those tips are helpful Genesis Energy also has 20 tips to keep winter energy bills down. 

Energy-saving habits around your home

  • Switch off lights in rooms you aren't using or won't be in for a while
  • Shut the curtains before the sun sets to keep the warmth in
  • Avoid running a second fridge all the time unless you really need to
  • Unplug devices that are charging (phones, laptops etc.) once the battery is full
  • Close doors of the rooms that you don't need to heat or cool

Energy saving habits in the kitchen

  • Turn appliances off at the wall if you're not using them
  • Run your dishwasher when it's completely full using the economy wash setting. Only fill your kettle up with the water you need to boil
  • Use a microwave to heat food as it can be more efficient than an oven
  • Don't spend more time preheating your oven than you need to
  • Cover your pots and pans with lids when heating food or liquids
  • Regularly defrost your fridges and freezers so they run more efficiently
  • Regularly clean the grille behind your fridges and freezers

Energy-saving habits in the laundry

  • Only run your washing machine when you have a full load
  • Use a cold-water wash whenever you can
  • Air dry laundry when you can instead of using a dryer

Energy-saving habits in the bathroom

  • Choose showers over baths as they're usually more energy efficient
  • Cut down your shower time - use a timer so you don't lose track of time
  • Fix any leaking taps as soon as they start leaking