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Friday, October 23, 2020
Canberra Nara Festival
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Aussies expect higher energy bills due to COVID-19

Higher household energy bills are expected as Aussies spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, however the anticipated spike has motivated only half of all households to actively reduce their energy usage.

According to a survey commissioned by comparethemarket.com.au, four in five Aussies (84%) believe their energy bill will be higher than usual as a result of home-based work and schooling during the pandemic. However, the anticipated spike in energy costs have not motivated 51% of households (513 respondents) from actively reducing their energy usage around the home.

Home office technology and home entertainment is one of the highest sources of energy usage in the household, with appliances and equipment accounting for 33% of household energy consumption. Of this, TV use accounts for 19% of energy consumed, 9% is from the home office, and 5% from home entertainment.

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The survey also found that almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents have not cut back their use of hot water, 71% have not used their dishwasher less often, and 63% are still using their dryer as much as before the pandemic started.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents have not reduced their use of heaters and almost half (48%) have not reduced their use of air conditioners.

Household savings expert at comparethemarket.com.au, Abigail Koch, said “the unfortunate reality is that energy usage by workplaces has been transferred to households, potentially adding around eight additional hours of energy usage to their bill each day”.

“Even households with solar could also see an additional downside if more energy is being consumed than is being produced,” she said.

5 ways to reduce energy bills when working from home

Comparethemarket.com.au reveals five tips to help Aussies save money on their energy bill when working from home:

  1. Use a laptop instead of a desktop. Desktop computers consume more energy than laptops as they need to be permanently plugged in, while laptops use their own battery and connect to power in around three-hour blocks. Additionally, the larger your screen on a desktop computer or external monitor, the more it will cost to run, so choosing the smallest possible screen will help cut down on energy. You can also take advantage of power-saving features on your computer, such as sleep and hibernation mode, so you aren’t using excess energy when you’ve stepped away from the desk.
  2. Consider installing a smart meter. A smart meter is a device installed in the same location as a traditional meter that records how much power you are using every 30 minutes and sends this information to your energy provider. It offers benefits such as providing a flexible pricing tariff and allows third-party providers to analyse your energy usage so you can find cheaper plans and save money in the long run. When considering whether to install one, households should weigh up the upfront costs with the potential savings.
  3. Review your electricity tariff and consider whether it’s still the best option. Tariffs refer to the way your household is charged for its electricity usage, with energy rates charged differently based on the time of day power is used. 
  4. Consider recharging electronics at night. Depending on which tariff your household electricity operates on, it may cost less to recharge devices late at night or early in the morning during the off-peak period. When using devices that require charging, such as a laptop, consider unplugging it during the peak period if it is idle and doesn’t need permanent access to power.
  5. Log your work hours and claim it back on tax. The ATO has announced that from 1 March to at least 30 June, Aussies working full-time at home can claim expenses at a rate of 80 cents per work hour for additional running costs. To be eligible, you must record all your work hours, which can be tracked on a spreadsheet or digital calendar ready for tax time, so ensure you are keeping a detailed record.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts