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Reduce Average Electricity Bill

Last year I wrote about my horror at receiving a $1400 electricity bill for winter!  I realise that my house is all electric but still the shock prompted me to search out a better deal.  A couple of weeks ago I received my winter electricity bill for this year.  I am proud to report that my winter electricity bill was down 28% from last year and is now around $1000.  Although a lot better than last year, $1000 still seems like a lot to me for a small house with 3 people living in it.  Surely there is more we can do?  So here are a list of some of the things we are going to implement in our household to cut our average electricity bill even further.

  1. Finish our move to energy efficient light bulbs

    We still have quite a few old light bulbs in our house. A move to energy efficient light bulbs can cut your lighting bill in half, so we are going to make an effort to get all the old bulbs replaced now.

  2. Ban the clothes dryer

    Clothes dryers chew up power. We did use it less over winter than normal but now it is spring it is time for it to ban it unless we are completely desperate.

  3. No more stand-by power

    I know someone who cut $200 off their power bill simply by turning things off at the power point. We are going to join them!  Think of the amount of things using standby power in your house right now – the kettle, toaster, microwave, TV…. Why waste money on something that is not being used?

  4. Turn off our phone rechargers when they are not being used

    I am seriously guilty of this!!! Phone rechargers still use power even if you are not using them but they are plugged in!  It might be a small one but if it is going to save us some cash then we are in!!

  5. Turn off the light when we leave a room

    We aren’t too bad at this one but there is more we can do. We are also pretty guilty of leaving our bathroom fan on, sometimes all day!  We walk out of the house and forget to turn it off.  No excuses this has to change.

  6. Use the microwave more

    Microwaves are more efficient than ovens and use around half the electricity!

  7. Only use the dishwasher when it is a full load

    Ok we are pretty good at this. The hubby is in charge of the dishes and let’s just say he likes to let them build up (a lot).  I guess the advantage of this strategy is that it is always a full load!!!

  8. Washing our clothes in cold water

    Making this move could save us around $115 per year. We are also going to focus more on choosing the shortest appropriate washing cycle.  Though with a messy four year old the ‘heavy duty’ cycle often gets a whipping in our house!!!

  9. Check our fridge

    The fridge is one of the most expensive appliances in the house as it is always on. Ours is starting to get on and is about 10 years old.  It is time to check all the seals around the doors and make sure the cold is not escaping.  Apparently the fridge temperature should be 4 or 5 degrees and your freezer temperature between minus 15 and 18 degrees, so we are going to check this as well.

  10. Shut the door!!!!

    No point in cooling or heating rooms or cooling rooms that are not being used! I do often find myself saying “Shut the door! Do you live in a tent?”  Certainly there is more work that can be done here!

So that is our plan.  I hope to shave at least another $200 off our electricity bill by being more energy efficient.  Not only is it good for our finances and the environment as well!  Certainly changing supplier has made a big impact to our electricity bill (click here to read how I did it) but I think it is time to do more!!  I look forward to reporting back on how we went this time next year!!!

What is your tip for cutting our electricity bill?

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25/09/2014 15 comments
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Household budget

It is the start of the year and so it is time for those darn New Years resolutions.  Exercise more?  Drink less?  Lose weight?   All noble options but none of these are it for me this year.  (Mind you, I could probably do with all three!!!)   However, this year my New Year’s resolution is to develop a budget for the Money household.  What?!!?  I hear you gasp, surely with a name like ‘Money Mummy’ budgeting is second nature?  Well, actually no.  It is not to say I haven’t thought about it, but this year is the time to actually do it.  So this is how I have gone about making my family budget from scratch……

The first step to developing your budget is to figure out what you spend.   There are lots of ways of doing this from writing it all down, to using an app on your phone or keeping all your receipts in a plastic bag.  In our case most of our transactions are done on card (either credit or debit), so I simply downloaded 3 months of transactions from internet banking into Excel and put each month on a separate sheet.  I then used Excel’s ‘sort’ function to put similar transactions from each month together and added them up.

Next I went to the MoneySmart website and downloaded the Excel version of their budget planner (see it here).  MoneySmart is run by the government.  The budget planner is very comprehensive and the best part is it is free!!!  This planner allows you to figure out exactly what you earn then gives you all the main categories you need to sort out your spending.   From there I just filled in how much we earned and how much we spent in every category that was relevant to us, using the data downloaded from internet banking.  For variable expenses (those that change from month to month), such as the supermarket shopping, I looked at how much was spent on each of the 3 months, then took an average.   For expenses that occur once a year, I simply put the annual figure into the planner and it calculated the monthly amount.  Really simple.

Once all the numbers were in, we discovered that we were spending more than we were earning!  Ouch!  Not by a huge amount but it is still not where we want to be.  So the hubby and I sat down and discussed what changes we thought we needed to make to get us back on track.  You can’t argue with the numbers so having them in front of us was a great tool to open up honest, frank and factual discussions on money.

We decided to choose four areas to focus on which we think will make the greatest impact to our financial position.  These were:

  1. Cash:  through the budgeting process we figured out we were spending a lot of cash, which is difficult to track.  Instead of tracking that spend, we decided to give ourselves a limited weekly cash budget, substantially less than we are currently spending and see how that works.
  2. We spend far too much on takeaway and eating out.  We have decided to limit ourselves to one takeaway meal per week and one meal outside the home on weekends.  This hopefully will do our bank balance and our waistlines some good!
  3. We are going to review our grocery spend and look for ways to reduce our expenditure.  Ideas on how we will do this will be outlined in a future post.
  4. We are spending a lot on utilities, particularly electricity.  I went some way to rectifying this when I changed provider late last year (read about it here) but now we are all going to focus on usage.

Creating a budget was a far easier process that I ever expected.  Though, I will admit at times it was quite confronting, especially when I figured out how much we were spending on eating out!!!  However, knowledge is power and I feel it is better to actually know where our money is going.   An additional benefit is that having the numbers in front of us meant Mr Money and I had a great platform on which to base our money discussion and make joint decisions about our money issues.  This process has certainly put us on the same page money-wise and has given us the facts about what we actually spend.

Now we know where we are at and what we want to do about it, it is time to follow through with action.  A budget is not a static thing to be left in the corner.  Every month I will be checking our spending and seeing how we are going and talking it through with Mr Money.  I expect given we have just started there will be a fair degree of ‘tweaking’ involved in the coming months, but I will keep you all informed on how we go.

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Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

15/01/2014 33 comments
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Save Electricity Bill

I hate to think about it, but our electricity bill is high, really high.  I opened it recently and was shocked to find it was $1400 for the last quarter!  Ouch! Okay our house is all electric with no gas, but really?  It is not even a big house, it is a small house.  We don’t even have hordes of people living with us.  It is just the 3 of us.  Yes, the bill was for over the winter period but even then it seems ridiculous.  Surely I could get a better deal?

With my mission set, I went off in search of more spark for my buck.   My first stop was the Australian Government website called ‘Energy Made Easy’ (click here to check it out)   This site is designed to help you compare all the electricity and gas retailers in your area to see if you are on the best energy deal for your needs.  All you need is a recent bill and they will give you a run down on the most appropriate deals for your location and usage levels.

From the bill I needed:

(1)    The time period for the bill

(2)    The total amount of electricity we used (usually on the second page)

Then the only other things I needed were my postcode and what type of tariff you are on (they help you figure out that).  The results came back that there were 3 providers that had the best deals for me and interestingly they were 3 companies that I had never heard of!!

Next I visited the individual company’s websites.  As it turned out one of the companies was in Tasmania so they were out of the running given I lived in New South Wales!!!  So I contacted the remaining two companies and got them to give me a call.  It is a bit of a pain to have to go through all the rigmarole of talking to the companies – but nothing beats leg-work when it comes to getting a great deal!  Besides you learn a lot about how your bill works and how electricity is charged.

In the end I went with a company that gives me:

(1)    A rate structure that is far more favourable than my current provider.

(2)    5% off the total bill for paying on time.  This is an easy win for us as I always pay on time using direct debit.  This discount alone is worth $70 a quarter off my bill as with my previous energy company I did not get any discount.  (Note: If you have a Healthcare card you are also eligible for a further discount so make sure you tell your electricity/gas or telephone company if you have one).

(3)    No surcharge for using my credit card to pay by direct debit, unlike my previous provider.

(4)    It is a two year contract but with no break fee if we leave the house.

My guesstimate this change in supplier will save us $160 per quarter or $640 per year.  Not a bad payoff for a couple of hours work.

Now my next project is to get our electricity usage down 🙂

p.s always contact your current provider before making a change and find out any costs that may be involved in switching.

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03/12/2013 19 comments
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