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Reducing Our Power Bills

By Jenni Huber, Friends of Willow Park

I would like to share ways that my family has been able to do to lighten our carbon footprint. Nothing so unusual, but put together it has made our house easier to live in and cheaper to run.

The house is 20 years old. Five years ago we experimented with different ways to reduce our bills.

The large gas hot water system was replaced by an instant gas hot water system. This cut the gas bill in half. A solar hot water with instant gas boost would have been even cheaper to run. For rebate and technical information see http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-energy/solar-power/solar-hot-water/.

The most important thing we did to reduce our heating bill was gap filling. Over the years the house has settled and moved. Gaps appeared between walls and ceilings. More gap filling was needed on the outside of the house, especially around windows and doors.

Next came reducing the area that needed heating. We put a curtain in the hallway to create a divide between the bedrooms and the family room. It is a double sided patchwork curtain made from upholstery scraps.When renting it was easily be reworked to fit any size required. Then came changing little habits; everyone having warm slippers and a doona or two on the couch. We don’t make the house over warm.

We invested in double glazing in the north-facing living area. For technical information, see http://renew.org.au/current-issue/#post-435. As a cheap option, we put bubble wrap on bathroom and toilet windows. Heavy curtains on all windows look great and keep the warmth in.

Solar (photo voltaic) panels were installed 2½ years ago. We went for a small system, a one kilowatt unit. We became extra conscience of our usage and changed light-globes, got a new seal on the fridge and turned things off when we were not using them. It makes sense. You don’t leave the car running in the drive just in case you might need it later. We haven’t paid an electricity bill since they were installed. For more information, check out http://www.energymatters.com.au/choosing-solar-panels.php.

We wanted to reduce our bills and to reduce the amount of pollution we create. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can. Good luck in making the small changes that can have a big impact.