Gas bills go up in winter. That’s just a fact of life, because most households use more gas in the colder months, particularly heating water and rooms.
It’s one of the reasons we recommend bill smoothing: paying a little more than the bill in the warmer months so that the difference between the ‘peak’ season bills of the winter months and those of the rest of the year isn’t as great.
Meanwhile, we always suggest you use only as much energy as you need, because wasting gas costs money, and there are far more fun things to spend your dollars on.
Depending on the size and configuration of your home, including the number of people who share it, you can make some simple adjustments for relatively low cost and small changes to your lifestyle.
Here are 20 hints … in alphabetical order (for no particular reason):
Adjust your thermostat
If you run your heating centrally, dial down your thermostat by a couple of degrees for the bulk of the time, even if you want it to start off pumping out slightly more heat first thing on a cold morning.
Buy more efficient appliances
When it’s time to upgrade an appliance, choose one with a higher water efficiency rating. Check the star rating, which estimates how much water the appliance uses.
Clean your vents and filters
If your vents or filters are dirty or blocked, you’re making your heating work far too hard to push through. An annual clean about this time of year will work wonders for the efficiency of your system.
Draught proof door gaps
Gaps around doors and windows – and vents, exhaust fans, and even pipes – are really money leaks. Not only does warm air get out, but cold air can leak in and force you to turn up the heat.
Ease the water temp back
Hot water systems are often set to pump out near-scalding water, which you can’t use without mixing in some cold. So, ease that setting back to 50 degrees, rather than 60.
Find some sun
Even in winter, the sun can offer some free warmth, so open the curtains and let the natural heating stream in when it’s available. Just make sure you close the cold out when the sun’s not around.
Get some professional help
There are companies that specialise in energy efficiency, including identifying and plugging any draughts or leaks. If you’re spending money heating your air, make sure you’re getting full value!
Head for shower efficiency
Shorter showers might be more easily said than done, however, installing a low-flow showerhead will mean you can take a shower just as long as you’ve been used to while using far less hot water.
Improve your insulation
One of the biggest wasters of heat and, therefore, money, is poor insulation. What’s the point of heating the air inside your house, only to let it steadily escape? You just have to heat more and more.
Keep some doors closed
Those little-used rooms, such as the laundry, spare rooms, playrooms, and the like, don’t need to be heated all the time. Close those internal doors and you stop heating spaces nobody is using.
Maintain your system
Have your heating system serviced to ensure it’s running as efficiently as it’s meant to. Imagine if a few simple tweaks could make, say, a 10 per cent saving on your bills …
No more preheating your oven
Consider if preheating is necessary depending on what you’re cooking. It used to be more important but these days most gas ovens reach cooking temperature quite quickly. Not to mention opening the door of a preheated oven to put the food in is another waste.
Optimise your cooktop
Making sure pot lids fit tightly when boiling water and using round-bottom pans, which let the flame heat more effectively, are a couple of simple stove-top gas-saving hints.
Put some clothes on!
For goodness sake, it’s winter, so dress for the season. You might be much cosier wearing fleecy tracksuit pants, fluffy socks, and warm hoodies or jumpers, anyway!
Replace your thermostat
If you have a manual thermostat, consider installing a smart thermostat, which you can program to automatically maintain optimal efficiency while it monitors your habits to make even more tweaks.
Switch your hot water system
While this isn’t an every-year thing, if your hot water system is a bit old, you might find an on-demand (or instantaneous) gas hot water system to be a more cost and gas-efficient option for your needs.
Take fewer baths
A lovely, hot bath might be incredibly relaxing, but when there’s a bit of pressure on your gas usage, pouring all that extra hot water out of your taps might be something you can readily ‘ration’.
Use fewer rooms
If you’re heating an entire house, do you really need to? No-one’s in those bedrooms all day and at night they’re under the doona. If you have a dining room, don’t heat it and eat in the lounge. If you have a ducted system, consider closing the vents so the heat doesn’t go to waste.
Vary your dishwasher setting
Many dishwashers have an economy mode that washes your dishes at a lower temperature. Meanwhile, make sure to only turn the dishwasher on when it’s full.
Wash full loads
Sometimes it’s easier to do your washing regularly, rather than when you have enough for a full load, but changing that habit will mean fewer washes, greater efficiency, and less hot water usage.