5 things our power-saving expert would never do
Meet Paul Fuge. He’s the manager of our Powerswitch website, which helps people easily find the cheapest power plan to be on.
Paul has worked in the power industry for more than 30 years. And he’s so obsessed with electricity that he has this weird thing for pylons. Seriously – Paul loves pylons so much that if he sees one he deems particularly beautiful, he’ll snap a photo to show us all.
Here’s one he snapped riding through Central Otago. Apparently a 220kV double circuit tower.
Paul also has some rather skimpy power bills because he knows all the tricks. So, we asked him what mistakes we might be making that could be costing us.
Here are the top five things Paul would never do.
1. Have a beer fridge in the shed
“It’s a Kiwi thing that when we buy a new fridge we just stick the old fridge out in the shed. So, we put an inefficient appliance that’s working overtime to maintain a constant internal temperature into an environment with large temperature fluctuations. And then we wonder why our bills are so large,” Paul says.
An old fridge in the garage can typically add $200 a year to your power bill.
“And as my wife said to me, how much cold beer do you really need to have constantly at hand anyway?”
Need to buy a new fridge? See our fridge test results.
2. Still be on a plan that doesn’t reward shifting your power to night-time
Paul’s power plan gives him half-price power at night, so he’s moved much of his power use to after dark.
“The cost of powering an EV is the equivalent of paying 40c a litre for petrol, but when I charge it at night it’s even cheaper. I drive past the petrol companies and think they can stick it.”
He also put a timer on his hot-water cylinder, so it only heats the water when the power is cheap.
"Analysing my power bills, I've saved around $800 in the past 12 months by shifting chunks of my consumption to times when electricity is cheaper."
3. Stay with the same power company year after year
Paul says we should all be a bit more promiscuous when it comes to power companies.
“I’ve changed three times in the last four years and have benefited each time.”
About 40% of households have been with their power company for more than five years – something that frustrates Paul.
“People will drive across town to get cheaper groceries but won’t spend 10 minutes on their device to get a cheaper power deal.”
4. Have an unflued gas heater inside
These heaters – the ones you connect to a gas bottle – are dangerous because they produce carbon monoxide. They also make the air damp so it’s harder to heat.
“If you’ve still got one, you have to get rid of it and replace it with an electric heater.”
See our electric heaters test results and find the right one for your home.
5. Have a heat pump set above 21 degrees
“Heats pumps consume increasingly higher amounts of energy for each degree increase above the optimal setting,” Paul says.
“For example, a heat pump set at 27 degrees will consume at least 50% more electricity than the same heat pump set at 21 degrees. In general, to be most efficient, there is a sweet spot of 19 to 21 degrees.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be seen dead setting my heat pump at more than 21 degrees. In June I found out my sister had hers set at 25 degrees and we haven’t spoken since. If I come home and the house is cold and I want it to heat it up quickly, I turn the fan setting up rather than the temperature.”
Looking to install a new heat pump? Find the top-performers with our heat pump test results.
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