Smash your power bill in five steps


Environmentally friendly technologies are usually associated with smug, inner city techno- hipster types but what if I were to tell you that they can save you an absolute bomb in the long run? Going green is a great option for those who are as concerned about their family’s bottom line as they are about the environment. Here at Chez Abulous we managed to slash our electricity bill by 85% with a little work and upfront investment. That’s not a misprint. Until Dadabs took matters into his own hands our electricity bill was around $1,000 per quarter. Our latest quarterly bills were closer to $100. In effect we’ve saved around $3,500 per year.  Whilst this may not buy me a Prada handbag it covers my cappuccino, chocolate and wine habits – just.

Here are the five steps we took to achieve this.

1) Solar panels: Besides marrying me having solar (photovoltaic) panels installed is arguably the best thing Dadabs has ever done in his domestic life. Our solar panels pretty much cover all of the home’s electricity needs during the day light hours. Occasionally we even over generate and sell power back to the grid. This means that the house is actually making us (a small amount of ) money instead of sucking it remorselessly from our bank accounts.

The Federal government currently provides incentive to install solar panels through the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). Under this plan households (or small businesses and community groups) who install eligible systems are allocated a number of Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) which are mini-carbon credits. The number of certificates issued depends upon the amount of power the system is expected to generate over a 15 year period.  The householder can then  assign the STCs to a registered agent for an upfront incentive – usually a discount on the installation price. Otherwise they can sell the STCs themselves through the Clearing House (like a stock market specifically for these instruments). Most people opt for the upfront discount because the Clearing House route is frankly a long winded pain in the bum.

Let these guys heat things up for you.

Let these guys heat things up for you.

2) Rejigging the hot water system: Here’s where smart metering comes in handy. Dadabs happened to notice that our electric hot water system was heating during peak periods when power is more expensive. We were frankly being ripped off. We arranged for the system to be put on a timer so that the heating took place over night in the off-peak period when power is considerably cheaper.

We then decided to do away with the whole thing and install a solar hot water system instead. Now we can enjoy long hot showers any time we please without our electricity retailer benefiting. Its a good thing when you bath your kids in a double spa the size of a small swimming pool. As with the photovoltaic panels, solar hot water systems are covered by the SRES, offsetting the cost of installation.  Some state governments also offer other rebates for solar hot water but sadly NSW is not one of them. Bastards!


3) Installing LED lighting: Those new fangled LED lights that you’ve heard about are more expensive than traditional incandescent and halogen lights. However independent tests indicate that they are up to 80% cheaper to run. There are a number of state government based schemes that offer incentives for households to switch from halogen downlights to LEDs which are similar in nature to the solar rebates.

In a massive military style operation we replaced almost every light bulb in the house with LEDs. Yes – it was an expensive exercise but we are reaping the benefits now.

Oh my! Check out the wattage on that.

Oh my! Check out the wattage on that.

4) Switching stuff off: This one is a no brainer. We did a quick inventory and found that we were continuously running systems that we simply did not need. Our security system was running 24/7. Not any more. Similarly the previous owners had put in an automatic sprinkler system which we simply turned off. Other appliances like sub woofers, a bar fridge, the media center and the printer were chewing up energy for no good reason. We flicked the switch.

5) Use efficient appliances: This one is also very straight forward. As your appliances die a natural death replace them with energy efficient models. The mandatory Energy Rating Label (ERL) makes this task easy. The more stars displayed on the label at the point of sale the more efficient the product. Items with over six stars are considered ‘super efficient’.

Not everyone is in a position to throw a few thousand dollars at solar panels, solar hot water heating and brand new appliances but there is still plenty of things you can do to keep your costs down. Although the thought of it may make your eyes glaze over, its worth while to go through your electricity bill with a fine tooth comb. There’s a good chance that the plan you are on is not optimal for you. The electricity companies purposely make their plans so complicated and painful that deters the average person from questioning them. It is time consumers stood up to this treatment. At the very least you can ring your electricity provider and threaten to leave. Its remarkable how quickly they will offer you a discount which could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Don't give these guys any more than you have to.

Don’t give these guys any more than you have to.


Electricity – its not sexy but saving serious money sure is.

Have you got any power saving tips to share.








23 thoughts on “Smash your power bill in five steps

  1. Holy shit Mumabs, that’s amazing. We’ve just moved into a house that has solar panels, so we’ll see what impact that has on our power bills. I’ve never been so keen to get an electricity bill! I don’t know much about it but when I googled it I saw that the size we have would probably only cover running costs of the house like lighting and appliances. It must be on the small size for the size of the house, but I’m stoked any way! We also need to get on the LED trip.


  3. Errr no. It did not. Poo.

  4. Great advise. I did not think about hot water and the timing of when it heats up. A timer is brilliant. I certainly don’t see why we would consciously decide to have our hot water heat in peak times. Those no good companies always making a buck on our ignorance.

    Oh and I have just joined this site and Dadabs when I read this, the biggest smile. Thanks for the blog, look forward to the next one.

  5. Did you open my power bill today? ECK – it’s as bad as summer, not happy here. I hope the new efficient pool pump we had to sell a kidney for helps to reduce our usage. Great tips, served with a side of awesome Mumabs style x

  6. That’s awesome! We keep umming and ahhing about getting solar, mainly since we’ve missed the boat for major rebates that were around a few years back (in Qld anyway) but I do think it’s an awesome thing to do – ethically and financially. We’ve managed to switch most of the house to LED light bulbs and learned to live without having appliances on stand-by which is a start. Great to hear your savings story. Good old Dadabs 🙂

  7. My only tip to add to your excellent advice is to kick your kids and their free-loading kids out of the house. Disable the air cons between 8:00am and 6:00pm and hammer on the door every time your son is in the shower for longer than 15 minutes…AWKWARD! Great post Mumabs.

  8. Great ideas!
    No, electricity is not sexy ….. (nor are solar panels but I guess their effectiveness and environmental friendliness kind of is).
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  9. Yup. We replaced our old fridge with one that’s twice the size but energy efficient. Our bill dropped by around $30 a month. #TeamIBOT

  10. Wow, that’s an amazing saving over the year! We’re renting so can’t change anything like solar panels, but I can definitely check out whether our hot water is set to peak/off-peak, and see if we can change some of our light globes. Thanks 🙂

  11. Unfortunately, not many options open to poor renters with this sort of thing but we do have efficient appliances and energy saver light bulbs. Better than nothing I suppose!

  12. Electricity bill is one of those bills that everyone (except those with panels ) dreads… I now hate our water rates too.. through the roof.

  13. We had friends in Darwin who were generating so much electricity, the power company owed them. Not that they ever paid. I would love solar panels on a house when we eventually buy one.

  14. That’s it – I’m changing over the damn light bulbs to LED, if I can get the freaking stupid covers off the lights first! The screws for our light covers are on the inside of the fitting…

  15. Such a great set of tips!
    Visiting from IBOT

  16. This is great! We changed over our kitchen and lounge room lights but haven’t gotten around to the rest of the house.
    I definitely need my hubby to check out this whole water heater bizzo though!

  17. Our house is so energy inefficient, we need all the tips we can get. Thank you.

  18. Wow, you were using a LOT of electricity! Good on you for finding so many ways to cut back on the cost and for spruking about it. LEDs will also last a lot longer so you have invested well there. To save money you can replace old bulbs as they fail rather than doing a “military operation” all at once. Sometimes you have to keep momentum up and just get things done though. I love your tips on checking hot water booster timing and checking the energy efficiency of appliances. Thanks

  19. Wow, these are great tips!
    Wish we owned our place, we would certainly go solar, not least because most of the major electricity retailers are dirty polluters. We have just changed to Powershop. We are in the process of changing to LED lighting, an need to buy a new washing machine this weekend, so we will be looking at energy efficient models. Our gas/fan powered central heating is old and so expensive to run in Winter (we’re in Victoria), but we have a baby and toddler and need to keep it cranking.
    Dani @ sand has no home

  20. installing solar panels was the best thing we ever did. We haven’t had a bill for a couple of years. I don’t know how families survive still having a whopping electricity bill to pay.

  21. Excellent tips right there! I want to change our lighting but in the meantime we use energy efficient lamps at night. We also have solar panels which are awesome!

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