We all know that along with the cold weather we often see higher electricity bills. You will be happy to know that there are a few smart (and free) energy choices you can make around your home which will help you save energy and money around your home. Not only will these choices reduce power bills, you are also helping the environment.

10 free things you can do now

Living Greener lists the top ten things households can adopt to reduce power bills.

1. Dress for the season

One of the easiest ways to save money in winter is to turn down the heater and put on some warmer clothes. This doesn’t mean dressing for the Antarctic – it means putting on a jumper before you crank up the temperature.

Reaching for a jumper instead of the thermostat is important when you realise that each additional degree adds between 5 and 10 per cent to your energy use. So the savings from pulling on another warm layer can add up to big cash savings this winter.

While you’re at it, dress your bed for the season too by putting on an additional blanket.

2. Shut the door on wasted energy

Trying to heat the whole house can waste a lot of money. Shut the door to areas you aren’t using (like bathrooms and the laundry) and only heat the rooms you’re using.

3. Turn it off

Turn off your heaters before going to bed and when you’re leaving the house – it’s cheaper and it’s safer too.

House fires are more common in winter, so why not consider doing a quick online fire safety audit to reduce your risks.

4. Let the sun shine in

Solar panels may not be suitable for every home and budget but you could still be using the free power from the sun. Open your curtains when the sun is shining on them and close the curtains when the sun moves away. Using the sun’s energy will help boost the temperature for free.

5. Don’t use the shower to warm up

Hot water accounts for a large chunk of your power bill – about one quarter of the average bill – so try to avoid the temptation of using the shower to get warm.

Staying in the shower uses up to 20 times as much energy as getting out and standing under two heat lamps instead. Even a few extra minutes in the shower will add to your power bill.

6. Rug up

During winter’s coldest months, many of us chill out indoors watching TV, playing our gaming consoles or cooking a hearty meal. Staying in has an energy price tag – adding to our home energy bills.

There are heaps of ways to have fun ‘unplugged’ – break out the board games and don’t forget to turn off your entertainment gadgets when you’re not using them.

To reduce the overall energy you use while watching TV, use a blanket before turning up the heat.

7. Be active and become a ‘swapper’

Swapping car trips for walking or cycling is a great way to save money and keep fit during the winter months. Join in and become a swapper family.

It makes good sense to walk instead of using your car for short journeys. Cars cost a lot of money to run, especially when you’re paying for petrol, maintenance and the upfront cost of buying a car (or a second car).

People powered transport is good for the environment, good for your health and good for your wallet too!

8. Use a solar clothes dryer

Clothes dryers are very convenient – but remember you are paying for this convenience. Rather than automatically putting your clothes into the dryer, use free energy from the sun and the wind to dry your clothes whenever you can.

You can put clothes racks out in the sun and fresh air on verandahs or dry clothes indoors on a rack when the heater is already on.

9. Turn off gadgets and appliances

Did you know that home entertainment systems and electronic gadgets are quietly adding to your power bills? Up to 10 per cent of the electricity used in your home is used on gadgets that are plugged in on standby. TVs, DVD and video players, game consoles, mobile phone chargers, microwave ovens, MP3 docks and stereos are some of the biggest culprits. You may not realise that your phone charger is still using energy even when your phone is not plugged in.

Check that you’re using appliances efficiently and turn off unused appliances at the wall. Unplugging these gadgets can save you quite a bit of money on your energy bill all year round.

10. Waste not, Want not

Worldwide, 30 per cent of our food goes to waste. In New South Wales that means the average family throws out more than $1,000 in wasted food every year.

As well as costing you money, this food ends up in our garbage bins and in our tips where it produces methane – a harmful greenhouse gas that’s 21 times stronger than the emissions from your car.

Much of the food waste in our kitchens comes from poor planning or from buying too much food so use shopping lists and check your pantry and fridge regularly to ensure you use up what’s there.

Why not share this article with someone who you think would like to live greener this winter.

This article was first published on LivingGreener.gov.au and reposted on www.sydneywatertanks.com.au and www.bioseptic.com.au

Image from: http://www.livinggreener.gov.au/lifestyle-guides/winter#ten_free_things_you_can_do_now