Switch off and pull on a cardy to cut the bills

Chilly days … NSW residents look to slash their energy use amid news of hikes in power bills.WHEN winter descends, Dianne Moy pulls out more than jackets and scarves – she ”dresses” her Newtown house by hanging heavy curtains and plugging draughts with door snakes.

And as staff arrive at Hornsby library on cold mornings, the heating system wakes gradually – turning on one section at a time to reduce peak energy demand and drive costs down.

NSW residents are under renewed pressure to slash their energy use amid news that household power bills will rise up to 21 per cent from July 1.

Most solutions are obvious – put on a jumper instead of the heater – but others are less well known, said Matthew Clark, a director of water and energy programs at the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Powering the digital clock on a microwave can use more electricity in a year than using it to cook food. Turning appliances off at the wall can cut power bills up to 10 per cent.

Hot water and refrigeration are the two big energy users in most homes. Those who cannot afford to replace older, energy-sucking fridges with more efficient versions should check the seals are working properly and the motor is well ventilated, Mr Clark said.

In the Hornsby council area, smart meters installed at five libraries in April have shaved energy use.

Less sophisticated devices are available for homes.

The meters, developed by the CSIRO, measure power and water use and ”learn” a building’s consumption pattern, sending out email or text alerts when abnormalities are detected.

Ms Moy, the program manager at Newtown’s Green Living Centre, celebrates winter by officially preparing her home, which also diminishes power use.

”It’s about putting the blankets out on the couches and getting the door snakes out, redressing the window for winter, and thinking ‘have we got our slippers out, and are we ready for it?’,” she said.

”It’s about embracing energy efficiency as a cultural shift.”

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