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How to save $$ on your power bill

Find out what changes you can make at home to save hundreds of dollars a year.

Consumer.org.nz have estimated typical running costs for a range of heating, kitchen, lighting and general household appliances so you can work out how to make the most effective savings in your home.


Below are some of the common areas around the home where you can save hundreds of dollars a year – and exactly which appliances are sucking the most power might surprise you!

Switching lights off

Although flipping the switch when you leave a room could save a few cents an hour, there are much bigger savings to be made by switching to LED bulbs, according to Consumer NZ product test team leader James le Page.

Despite the higher upfront cost of LEDs, the bulbs quickly pay for themselves through reduced power bills.

A mid-range LED costs $18, draws 9.5 watts of electricity and has an expected lifespan of 15,000 hours.

Turning appliances off at the wall

Most appliances use very little electricity in standby mode.

Consumer NZ testing found some technology, including TVs, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems, cost just a few cents each year on standby, while clothes dryers, gaming consoles, washing machines and microwaves left on standby use less than $10 worth of electricity over 12 months.

At the other end of the scale, set-top boxes and some multi-function printers use significantly more standby power.

Set-top television decoders were found to use almost as much power on standby as they did while in use and could cost $53.75 each year, even if the TV was never turned on.

Taking shorter showers

With around 30% of the energy used by the average household flowing into hot water, reducing the time spent under the shower is a great way to cut costs​.

Every five minutes spent under the shower costs 33c so by cutting daily showers from 10 minutes to five minutes, a family of four could save $450 a year.

Washing clothes in cold water

Consumer NZ test results show that washing your clothes in cold water is significantly lower in cost than running a warm wash, le Page said.

A cold wash in a front or top loader costs 3c to 8c per load, while a warm wash costs 13c to 46c .

One warm wash a day at 46c per load would cost $167.90 each year. A daily cold wash at 8c per load would cost just $29.20.

Washing dishes by hand

Research shows hand-washing the dishes actually uses more hot water than running the dishwasher.

A 2011 study done at the University of Bonn, in Germany, found households without a dishwasher used on average more than twice as much water to clean dishes as those with one.

The research was backed up by Consumer NZ’s own testing which showed the average dishwasher used 13.5 litres to clean a full load.

Ditching the dryer

If you have an outdoor washing line, le Page recommends using it. However, drying clothes inside on a clothes horse isn’t recommended, as moisture accumulating indoors can lead to damp and mould growth.

“If you are opting for a dryer, especially in winter when drying outside isn’t idea, heat pump dryers use the least electricity,” le Page said.

“You can check whether your electricity plan has cheaper periods, so you can save a few cents per load when using the dryer – some plans offer reduced off-peak rates or even free power for a short period each day. Make sure you’re not paying a premium to dry your clothes at peak times.”