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Energy efficiency the answer to soaring Energy Bills

Energy efficiency the answer to soaring Energy Bills

By David Senn
March 8, 2014

It sounds ridiculous, but household power bills will increase by up to 24 per cent from next month.

The latest round of increases in this relentless process affect households with average to above average power bills. Why? – because the current round is driven by increases in the network charges to “standard” users. Power rises usually include those that are driven by increases in charges from the power generators. Some times the annual increase is driven by the former; sometimes the latter; more usually these days it is both driving the increase.

Unfortunately this is the new normal with our electricity market. The situation is unlikely to change given that virtually all new ‘baseload’ generation coming on stream is now either geothermal or wind-powered, both which require relatively high amounts of capital investment compared to say, a coal-fired power plant.

The deafening silence in midst of these rises is the lack of credible options being put forward for the consumer to save on their power bill. Switching power companies has been at best a temporary relief from the rises in power bills. We are now well acquainted with this routine - personally I have just received a letter gently reminding me that I will be socked with an 18% rise due to the fact my contract price – fixed for only a year - has just ended.

So, what to do?

Thanks to advances in technology - households have much greater options to take control of their power bills than even five years ago. These choices can broadly be divided into two categories – either to cut down or to generate their own power.

Installing rooftop solar PV panels is presently the easiest option for generating your own power. A significant investment is required but they are dropping in price.

What about cutting down on electricity use?. This is the lowest cost approach. You can start with relatively low cost things to do; like replacing those old less efficient light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. These have recently plunged in price; and good quality ones can potentially save around 10% on the power bill. Getting rid of energy-hogging appliances like electric plug-in heaters, towel rails and old fridges is the next cheapest option. Finally, why not attack that elephant lurking on the energy bill which is your hot water bill (according to the Building Research Agency is 34% of your power bill). The newest innovation in this sector is replacing your electric water heating element with a quality heat pump water heater. This could result in saving a quarter of your power bill , or more.

The options are there, and readily available. You may well take some pleasure in striking back against your power supplier. I certainly have done.

*************

David Senn is the inventor of the Econergy Heat Pump Water Heater and Managing Director of Econergy Limited. David commercialised the Econergy unit in 2008 to help homeowners cut down on their power bills. For more information visit www.econergy.co.nz

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