The rising cost of living and the return of inflation is hitting Kiwis hard. In a new Herald series, Inflation Nation, we explore the reasons and impacts of the price shock - and possible solutions. We also share some great life hacks on how you can save money and live more affordably.
With thousands of people throughout New Zealand self-isolating or working from home it's no wonder households are using more electricity.
We are home for breakfast, lunch and dinner, using the heat pump to cool the stifling home office, not to mention using multiple devices to power through the latest TV series.
Making sure you are with the right electricity provider and on the right plan is the biggest single way to save power according to Consumer NZ.
I put the details of my latest bill into Consumer's Powerswitch website and found I was with the cheapest provider for my household of five but I was on the wrong plan.
Switching plans means I will save more than $600 a year.
James le Page at Consumer NZ recommends using Powerswitch once a year because providers adjust plans and prices and household size and habits change.
"It might be that you now have someone working from home or you have another person come to stay and that changes your power usage.
"It can save you hundreds of dollars each year without changing your habits at all."
Le Page said right now was the perfect time to get prepared for winter power saving.
Here are his top tips
Give your heat pump filters a clean
Vacuum your heat pump filters to make them work a whole lot better. If you haven't tackled this task since last winter, you'll notice an immediate improvement in their performance.
Turn off unused appliances
Check the kids' rooms to see if they've left anything unnecessary running. They'll use a small amount of power while waiting on standby, add all these devices together and the costs can add up.
Set the thermostat to the right temp
You should be plenty warm with the thermostat on your heater set to 18-20C. Anything over that is a tad too much and you'll be paying for the pleasure of making your place feel like the tropics. And make sure your doors and windows are closed.
You won't need to run a dehumidifier as often if you open the windows. If you are working from home fling the windows and doors wide open to take advantage of the free ventilation provided by the wind.
Break out the slow cooker
Not only can you cook cheaper, tastier cuts of meat, but a slow cooker also costs peanuts to run. It'll probably only cost you 50¢ in power to make a dinner that'll feed the whole family.
Beware the Airfryer
Yes, they crisp food perfectly but Consumer warns to use the air fryer wisely. A large one will cost you around $25 a year if you use it three times a week in 30-minute stints. An oven sits at around the $33 per year mark – but this is for 3 hours per week. Because
an oven has multiple racks it's better for larger meals. Airfryers make the best chips though.
Use the clothesline
Dry your clothes for free outside. Even if you can't dry your washing completely, hanging it outside to remove some of the moisture will save a few dollars as you won't need to run your dryer for as long.
Switch to LED
LED bulbs can be expensive to buy but they are worth the saving in the long run. A standard 60W incandescent bulb costs about 50¢, but only lasts about 1000 hours. An equivalent LED lightbulb costs $18, but lasts about 15,000 hours. It works out at a saving of $14.30 each year for each bulb.
Wrap your cylinder
If you have a hot water cylinder, wrap it up with insulation. You need about 5cm clearance around the cylinder. And check your water isn't too hot – it needs to be 60°C to prevent bacteria growing, but doesn't need to be any hotter.
For the biggest saving hack visit Powerswitch.org.nz