The cost of electricity - I've decreased mine

28 September 2022

I usually don't look forward to the electricity bill arriving, especially since the prices have gone up so much and look like increasing even more. However, I wanted to see what my bill was because over the past months I made a few choices to lower it. I knew it would be lower and I wanted to see how much I'd saved.



This is the new solar unit - 18 panels.


There's a bit of a story behind this so let me start at the beginning. Our old solar system stopped working in September last year. It was installed 11 years ago and when I finally got a technician to check it, 3 months later, he said the solar panels were corroded and the system was a fire hazard. So instead of the expected repair job, everything was removed. I was so busy looking after Hanno, I didn't even think about it again for a few months and after weighing up the pros and cons of solar and the certainty of increased electricity rates in the future, I had a new 6.66 kW system installed at the end of February. The bill I've just received is the first bill which is fully covered by the new solar system. We also have a solar hot water system. We've used these for almost 50 years and one of the first things we did when we moved to this home was install solar hot water. If you can't afford to get solar panels, go for a solar hot water system instead. If you live in Victoria or South Australia, there are government rebates.


This is the old solar unit - 7 panels.   In the background is the solar hot water unit.

Of course solar energy helped lower this current bill and in December, when Hanno was still at home we replaced our 10 year old fridge. New appliances are much more efficient than older ones so that was another reason our bill started to decrease. When an appliance we own starts getting old or shows signs of problems, we usually update it with an energy efficient model because it does help with energy costs. We have a dishwasher, oven, toaster, food processor, mixer, iron, computers, sewing machine and overlocker/edger, washing machine and dryer - most with energy efficient technology. Our air conditioners have inverter/heat pump technology which cuts the cost of electricity.   All our lights have LED globes, I turn off TVs at the wall so they're not running on standby and often I don't turn on the TV or lights at night because I prefer it that way. I have to say though, it's much easier to do that when there's no one else here. Over the years, Hanno thought I was crazy for wanting to do it. 😡‍πŸ’«

You'll notice on my bill there are a couple of government rebates. One is the $175 cost of living rebate that most of us got and the other is the pensioner discount. But I'm looking at the electricity usage rather than the dollar cost here. I'm celebrating decreasing my usage from 300 kWh to 5 kWh.





I knew, on average, air conditioning/heating and cooling consumed about 40 percent of each electricity bill, so when I was here alone over winter, I chose to not use the air conditioning. I made myself comfortable with an extra layer of clothes, an over the knees electric blanket and an electric blanket on my bed. But it's not always the appliances you have in your home, it's how you use them that makes the difference. All the little things like turning off lights when not in use, washing up by hand when there are only a few dishes, not having appliances on standby, always washing a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine - all this became part of my normal housework. One other change was I went from using our appliances at night on the old solar system because our feed-in tariff was 44 cents and it was cheaper for us to sell to the grid during the day. Now I use our appliances as soon as the sun hits the roof and I'm using solar energy generated here instead of energy from the grid. When the sun goes down all my cooking, sewing and cleaning have been done and I might just have a solo light or the radio on. My choices have made an impact on what I pay for electricity and saved a lot of carbon emissions.


I hope you to see that there are things you can do to decrease costs at home and all it takes is for you to make your particular choice and stick to it. I know many of you won't be able to do it even if you want to because you have family members who come home late and need to eat dinner, children who have to do homework and those who relax in front of the TV for entertainment.  But if you can't do it now, you can do it when your family grows older and you're in a new season of life.  


For every thing there is a season.


This is the Australian Government's Guide to Sustainable Homes. Lots of good information here.


There are probably a few things I've forgotten to write about here but one thing I want to add is to wash all your clothes in cold water.  If you have greasy work clothes or badly stained items, wash in cold water, don't overload the machine and add a scoop of oxybleach to the wash. (I think the Vanish Oxy Advance brand is the best for this). I always keep an eye open for their half price specials at Woolworths and only buy it then. 



17 comments

  1. Rhonda You are inspirational, thankyou for all your wisdom and commonsense 😊

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  2. Rhonda, that is spectacular!, and so encouraging. I am able to limit electric usage, however I am not able to control all of it as I am not the only one here. I will keep doing what I can.

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  3. Hi Rhonda, I've been reading all of your posts here and on Instagram, but haven't been commenting during the summer rush. I'm glad you are making progress on so many fronts during this transition time and that Miss Gracie is there to keep you company. What really strikes me with this post is how few panels it took to get such a big reduction! My utility gives the option to get energy from wind or solar power, which I've chosen to do because of the benefit to the environment (and it doesn't require the investment in solar panels etc.) Of course, this system doesn't reduce my kwh used/expense. Seeing your usage reduction makes me wonder if I should change what I'm doing and get some solar panels! Thanks for taking the time to share this information and all of the other updates you've provided on decluttering and aging in place - all timely topics for me. And, of course, I'm always up for pictures of Gracie and delicious looking cupcakes! Stay well dear lady! Beth in MN

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  4. Okay, sorry, just noticed I was looking at the old solar array, not the new one! Still impressed with your kwh reduction! Beth in MN

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    1. No worries, Beth. Thank you.

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  5. Firstly-Hi and so lovely to see that your life continues to be full of meaning x

    We too have had a new solar system in the past few months. Wow has it made a difference to our cost of living! The price of electricity here in the UK has gone through the roof, also the cost of gas. One big change we made was to buy a Ninja foodi 14 in one unit. Initially I hated it, just not the same as putting on my oven. But now I am a convert! It not only saves a massive amount on fuel but the thing is all singing and all dancing. Yes I have had to alter the way, and things, I cook but the savings seem to be massive. From a monthly cost of around £60 just for the gas to cook with, along with about £50 in electricity charges, my total fuel bill has dropped to under £1 a day!! We heat with a log burner so the fuel cost remains pretty stable throughout the year.

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  6. This is so helpful Rhonda, I am facing a permanent move to Australia in the next few years and your blog has been invaluable in preparation for this.

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  7. Hello from Norway, the cost of electricity has soared here too, along with food prices, gas and everything else. We have moved to an older, cheaper and smaller house, without the fancy heating system we had, and this has reduced the electricity bill. We shut off some rooms during winter and heat less space. Being a cold climate, we don't need air condition. We can't afford to update our appliances, but I have stopped using the big chest freezer and dryer and hung another outdoor clothes line instead. Also, we have lots of woollen clothes and throws, and cosy warm slippers, and a wood burner. Blessings, Pam

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  8. Well done, that is a big drop in your kwh's. It looks like you have a decent solar setup now. We have solar hot water and love it! We also have solar panels but still pay a bill, its not high but then we only have a 1.5 kw system.

    I use fleecy sheets to keep warm in bed at night, and nice warm pyjamas. We are lucky to still have a log fire, but free wood is getting harder to get now.

    Thank you Rhonda for sharing what you do to keep electricity prices down.
    xTania

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  9. Wow! that is quite a decrease. We just moved into a rental that has very poor insulation. I have bought a few wool rugs for the floor and we have a wood stove for this winter.(I live in the USA) Curtains will be the next thing to keep the heat in. I love all your insight and ideas. I will try the Oxy Advance. I usually just put a bit more washing liquid on the stain. I am still working on my decluttering as well, which I commented on a past post. Now I have things to sell and some to just remove. You continue to inspire me to keep going..thank you;-} sally

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  10. That's amazing! I hate that here they have a minimum charge. So even if you use zero electricity, they will still charge you. Ugh. And even if we went full solar, we are not allowed to disconnect from the grid. At least where I live. There are even areas in the U.S where you are not allowed to catch rain water. So we have to do the best we can with what we have. Great ideas, thank you!

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  11. It sounds as though you have done everything perfectly. What a relief knowing that all future bills will be so much more manageable, and of course it's good for the environment too.

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  12. Great tips and ideas, Rhonda, on ways to save on electricity costs. We have solar hot water and 3kw of panels but our usage pattern changed when I decided to work more days each week. For convenience, we started running dishwasher at night so it could be emptied before we left for work in morning but that doesn't make best use of solar set up we have. That needs a rethink! One thing I have started doing is batch cooking more so I can just reheat meals and use less energy at night.

    I always enjoy reading your posts, Rhonda, and get so much from your words and advice. Thankyou!
    MegπŸ™‚

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  13. Well done in setting things up well for your future. I have wondered about a solar water heater but am not sure if it is worth the cost of setting it up. Instead, I just turn off the water heater for most of the day. 20 minutes of being on gives enough hot water for a couple of showers and to wash the dishes. Power costs are really going up lately on our island of Oahu, Hawaii and we have long been 3 X the average cost on the mainland US before that. Many of the new houses are not built to catch the island trade winds and need a/c so I appreciate my old house with louvre windows.

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  14. You recently posted about the motion sensor lights that are battery operated. I used to keep a few lights on at night in hallway, mudroom, etc. I wanted to save money on electric but not walk around in dark. I ordered some from Amazon, and love them! Not only saving money by not keeping lights on all night, they light up as you walk through a room, illuminate your path, and turn off shortly after. We are in the middle of a storm and my lights are flickering but I feel fine even if power goes out. In fact, these will be added to my kids Christmas packages. Thanks for the suggestion!

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    1. They're wonderful, aren't they! I'm really pleased you like them too. And yes, a great way to save money.

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  15. We've just upgraded to a new solar power system along with a battery. Our old one was just 8 panels and only gave us power during daytime hours, working all day and with a son who works nights which means he's up all night when he's not working most of our power usage is at night. There's now twenty plus panels giving us more than enough power during the daytime and the battery lasts well into the early hours of the morning. Of course it's pricey to set up but the estimate on it's paying for it's self is 7 years.
    We love our instantaneous gas heater, with 5 adults it's good to be guaranteed a hot shower at any time. The water temp is controllable, we only ever heat the water to our needs at the time, showers are set to personal preference at 39 to 42 degrees, washing up is set at 60 degrees. We never have to add cold water to water that we've paid to heat.

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