How can you save money on your power bill?

Brought to you by Origin Energy.

 A few weeks ago I was asked if I’d be interested in allowing an Origin Energy expert in to my home to talk about our energy use and give us tips on where we could could save some money. Of course I’d love to know where we can save money – who wouldn’t!?

Today I’d love to share some of the findings with you. I found it truly fascinating and have started changing some of our habits, plus relaxed on a few!

Anne was my lovely Origin Energy consultant/expert for the day. Anne was armed and ready to provide a thorough check-over of my home. We visited every room in the house and measured the energy use of just about everything.

Some notes I took away:

  • My entry light needs to be switched from a hallogen to a compact fluro or LED light. I don’t use this light very often, but it’s worth making the switch. I am also thinking about changing some of the lights outside my home to run on sensors.
  • The Xbox is drawing 55W when in use, but is only using under 1W standby power (which is good). I just need to remind the boys to turn it off! I always knew gaming machines can draw a lot of power. My husband once attached it to a generator and it wouldn’t power properly. So remind the kids to turn it off!
  • My Apple TV box is only using 2.3W when in use which is ok.
  • My computer uses 75W per hour. Obviously I use this a lot! So leaving my computer on when it’s not in use is a no-no. Sometimes I do forget to turn it off, but I am more conscious now of powering it down.
  • We measured the standby power on my Foxtel. I was amazed! It uses 16W standby power. This is because we have to leave the machine on 24/7 for updates etc. This translates to about $43 worth of energy per year. So if this is the case, I started to become more aware of other appliances/computers/gaming machines that might be left on for too long and can be turned off.
  • The microwave, toaster, jug and coffee machine barely use any standby power, so I don’t have to worry about unplugging everything in my sights!

So, what is standby power? It’s the term used for energy used when appliances are not performing their primary function. (e.g. illuminated clock display on microwave oven that’s not in use). A total of just over 10,000 appliances were measured in 2010 for a standby power survey undertaken of appliances in homes in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. One of the key findings was about 40% household appliances consume ‘Standby Power’.

This survey found standby power amounted to 830 kWh per year in the average home and it was estimated this wasted energy is currently costing Australian households about $250 per year (that’s a huge waste of money!). It is recommended that you turn off and pull out power cords when not in use. From Anne’s findings above, I can already see  that my ‘networked’ areas are the ones I need to be aware of and power down when I can. Doing this will contribute to a possible $250 saving. I can buy new sheets and quilt for that saving!

Now here are some other easy ways to help YOU reduce the amount of wasted household energy…

Buy a product like a FutureSwitch Plug

body profile pic.ashxFutureSwitch saves you reaching behind your audio-visual gear or all the peripherals around your computer to turn off the power switch, in turn saving you money on your energy bill. You can turn off the entire powerboard rather than turning the socket off at the wall (especially if you have it tucked behind a tv, or a unit).

Safety Switches save lives

1Safety switches are compulsory in all residential dwellings built since 1991 and must be installed to existing homes within three months of transfer of ownership. However, installation is recommended in all homes. When an electrical fault occurs, the switch turns off the power to the affected circuit within one-30th of a second. It is not recommended to overload a power point by ‘piggy backing’ plugs into one socket or by using double adaptors. Use a power board with an internal overload switch or better still, have an electrical contractor install additional power points. Check you have a safety switch today!

Surge Protection helps save your appliances

2Power spikes can occur from both external and internal causes having the potential to harm home appliances with delicate electronics. Causes of external factors can include lightning strikes, animals, tree branches etc. Internal factors may be caused by malfunction of older, more robust appliances that are connected to the same circuit as more delicate appliances. This is very common! We had a power surge when we were renovating an old home and my computer died. Clearly the old home (built in the 1930s) didn’t have the proper surge protection. It was not fun and a lesson learned.

Heating and cooling tips

  • Set thermostat no lower than 25°C in summer and no higher than 20▫C in winter (every extra 1°C adds 10% to energy consumption)
  • Rooms with Reverse Cycle systems should have doors and windows shut
  • Open doors or windows to discharge air from evaporative coolers
  • Minimise your use of portable electric heaters. They consume 2.4kW per heater which potentially will add hundreds of dollars to your winter electricity bill.


Your electricity meters are read every ninety-four days or so. You may wish to read your meter at the same time each day for a period of time to check your daily energy consumption levels.
You can create a base line (normal use) over the first two days, then start turning individual appliances off and deduct the value of the previous day’s reading with the current to calculate approximately how much each ‘off’ appliance consumes. That’s actually not a bad tip to start taking control of your energy use. This way, when you get your bill you’ll know what to expect and there will be no surprises!

The last lot of tips for today!

  • When purchasing a new appliance… I know we all tend to look for price when purchasing a new fridge, dryer or washing machine. BUT, if it uses more energy than the product next to it, then you’ll only end up paying a higher price in the long run. It’s totally worth comparing units at
  • See YOUR usage breakdown here.
  • Sign-up for an ENERGY PLAN – I didn’t know I could do this, but now I have I am saving 15% per year!
  • Consider solar power – it’s still going to be the most efficient and cost effective.
  • Then pop here to see more Energy Saving tips.

I hope I’ve given you a few new ideas on how to save money around your home. I have shared all this information with the rest of my family so we’re all aware on how much it helps if we all do it together. It’s important for my boys to be conscious of energy use and realise that money doesn’t grow on trees!

How’s your energy use? Do you think you might implement a few new tips?


  • Chris R

    Lots of great tips. My elderly mum turns the TV, microwave, jug, everything off at the power point. She unplugged the cordless phone in the bedroom because it uses electricity !! Due to her age, 90, and the security of having a phone by her bed it has been plugged in again. I live in a house of men. They leave lights on in rooms they are not in, leave computers running for hours, it is a challenge to get them to be more aware. One day I will get through to them .. hah maybe.

  • Lea Lee Lee H

    So do you have to fully unplug the cord to save standby power or can the PowerPoint switch be just turned off?

  • Taylor Chrissie

    Katrina Chambers thanks for sharing this……very helpful…..did they discuss the topic on leaving your heater to run on a set temp day and night in Winter?? This always seems to be a hot debate amongst friends…they stand divided…some swear it’s cheaper to run the heater continually 24/7 whilst others (like ourselves) have it turn on at 6.15am and off at 9.30pm…….any thoughts?

  • Amy Martin

    I’ve just changed to origin or next bill they will roll me over

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