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Stop, Go, Think … Electric!

Renew Hunter Region Branch

Stop, Go, Think … Electric!

We all want to save on energy bills!  You might be experiencing bill shock right now, and you need to reduce your bills and look around for a cheaper energy supplier.  Everyone has different circumstances, and so Renew will provide you with practical suggestions to start your journey towards lower energy bills.  

The media provides us with lots of ideas to reduce our energy bills, but it’s often hard to personalise that advice to our own home as they are all different, and we all have different lifestyles and energy needs. We will help you make a start and provide some useful resources to find answers to your questions.

The listing below provides some ideas to start your journey to lower energy bills.  It includes things that are free to get done, government rebates and websites to learn more about energy efficient homes.  It also includes suggestions on more expensive purchases like solar panels and hot water.  

Nine Elements of Saving Energy

It can be difficult to know where to start, how much it will cost and what it will save.  Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different, so you might need to seek professional advice.  It’s also important to call in a professional trades-person for any work around the home that involves climbing ladders, working on electrical wires/gas lines or plumbing.   But there are many DIY improvements that you can complete yourself, and they are often low cost and don’t take long.

It’s a good time to reduce your energy bills and get prepared for the future.  

Things you can do to Electrify Your Home and Save on Energy


Click on the heading for Saving tips…

Search for an alternative Energy Retailer. 

You may be paying too much for your energy.  Shop around and compare pricing using the government comparison website. Refer to the Website links below. 

Turn off Appliances.

Walk through your home and turn off any unwanted appliance.  Maybe you have an old fridge in the garage?  

Keep unused areas in your house closed off.  

Are you heating or cooling parts of your home that you don’t use?  Keeping internal doors closed can reduce the area you are paying to heat or cool.

Close your curtains to block the sun.  

Keeping the radiant heat of the sun out can reduce your air conditioning cost, and stopping the heat escaping in winter can reduce heating costs.

Read a Book or watch a video.

Refer to the Resources section for some great suggestions. 

Join a Facebook Group.

My Efficient Electric Home (MEEH) group is easy to join and enables you to ask questions and share information.  Australian with over 97,000 members.

Energy Usage Meter. 

This is a device to measure the energy usage of a single appliance in your home, which you can borrow from your local library.  It will tell you the cost of running your fridge, kettle or any other appliance.  Once you understand its consumption, you can manage its cost. That might include using the appliance at a different time of day when energy is cheaper (if on a TOU tariff – see below).  Refer to Resources for details of availability in Newcastle & Lake Mac Libraries.

Time of Use (TOU) Energy Tariff. 

Consider changing from a single rate to TOU tariff. TOU means your electricity use is charged at different prices during three different time periods – peak, shoulder and off peak. This type of pricing provides incentives for you to save money by shifting your usage out of peak periods to less expensive shoulder and off peak periods.  A good example would be a pool filter, which could be set to run at night when the energy cost is lower.

Under $200

Click on the heading for Saving tips…

Replace light bulbs with LED’s.

Switching to LEDs will help you reduce your energy bills.  For example, if you change 20 halogen downlights to LED downlights, you can save up to $210 a year on energy costs. There are some NSW government rebates available, if you need a professional to help you make the change (See Resources). 

Replace Shower Heads with low flow heads. 

It’s likely your largest energy cost is your Hot Water System.  If you can reduce the water flow when you take a shower, you will reduce the energy cost .  Modern showerheads, such as those designed with double-impinging jet technology only 5 litres of water per minute. Old showerheads can pass up to 35 litres per minute. Why not grab a bucket and stopwatch and test yours? 

Monitor Your Energy Consumption. 

For those with solar already installed, you should have a monitoring device to track the energy you are using and the energy your solar panels are generating.   This can be done on your smart phone/device and subscriptions start at under $10 per month.  Solar Analytics is a popular tool, but there are many others available.  Talk to your solar installer. 

Power Usage Meter. 

Ever wonder how much energy your household appliances are using ? These easy to use meters can be purchased for as little as $30, and allow you to monitor how much energy an appliance is using.  Simple to use and understand, with no need for installation by an Electrician.  These are often available from your local library on loan.

Timer for Electric Hot Water System (HWS).  

If you already have solar on your roof (and are generating excess capacity during the day) then consider installing a timer on your electric HWS to heat your hot water during the day when the sun is shining. Alternatively, investigate the Controlled Load tariff (see below) to heat water at a cheaper rate. Talk to your Electrician about the best alternative for you. 

Heat your Hot Water On Controlled Load.

If you have a resistive-electric hot water storage tank (and no solar) investigate a controlled load tariff which is a dedicated circuit at a lower cost.   If you already have solar installed (or want to soon), generally it is better to heat  water from the energy your solar panels make during the day, as that energy is otherwise sent back to the grid in return for a small Feed in Tariff.  You will need a Licenced Electrician to make this change.    Note: If you are already a controlled load installed you will see a reference to CL1 and CL2 on your energy bill.  

$200 to $3000

Click on the heading for Saving tips…

Draught Proofing. 

Leaking air from your home carries with it valuable heat or coolness with it. In winter, uncontrolled air leakage can account for 15 – 25 % of heat loss.  To reduce leakage, seal doors, windows, chimneys, bathroom fans, around skirting boards and architraves, floorboards and other gaps and cracks.  Large Hardware stores do stock some of the products you need but are often of lesser quality.  A good alternative is online suppliers that specialise in this area, together with excellent instructional DIY videos.  Refer to the Websites below.

Home Insulation. 

Insulation is one of the simplest ways of improving the energy efficiency of your home. Ceiling insulation is the most important, but you can also insulate wall cavities and floors.  Most homes don’t have enough insulation, or the existing installation might have been compromised by old age or disturbance by a contractor/builder. Good insulation can save up to 80% of your heating bill!!  

Replace Gas with Electric.  

If you use gas for cooking, heating / cooling or to heat water, now is the time to start planning for going across to electric.   Gas prices are increasing, and Australia is likely to experience a widespread shortage of gas by 2026.  So, before they fail, start thinking about converting your gas appliances to electric.       

Over $3000

Click on the heading for Saving tips…

Install Solar.

Solar panels produce clean power and are a great investment. With energy prices still increasing the financial pay back on solar is getting better all the time.   A small 1.5KW system will cost around $2,500 – $4,000.  Refer also to the information on government subsidies included in this document (Pensioners Health Card Holder or Veteran Gold Card holders) 

Heating / Cooling.

If your home has reverse-cycle air conditioning (also known as a heat pump), this may be the cheapest way to heat, especially as gas prices rise. On heat mode, reverse-cycle units harvest free renewable ambient heat from the air outside your home and pump it up to the toasty temperature you need inside. These high-efficiency reverse-cycle units, can heat your home for one-third of the cost of ducted gas heating.

Hot Water System (HWS). 

Around one quarter of the average Australian household’s energy is used to heat water.  If you are considering replacing your Electric or Gas HWS there are opportunities to drastically reduce the energy used.  Heat Pumps are the preferred option and can reduce the energy used by up to 75% compared to a conventional HWS.   Heat Pumps are expensive to purchase (prices start at about $3,000 installed), but the payback period is impressive.  The alternative option is Solar Hot Water which is a proven technology but less efficient than a Heat Pump.   


Windows are often the weakest link in a home’s thermal envelope.  That means they are poor insulators, so heat can pass through as sunshine and heat the inside of the home, which can either be good or bad depending on the season.  Older windows might have gaps that allow draughts to flow through which allows hot or cold air to escape. Replacing windows can be expensive, but the use of curtains, blinds and shutters on the inside, as well as awnings and external blinds, are more affordable and can make the windows more efficient. 


There are several NSW Government rebates offered which can reduce your energy bills significantly. 

Click on the heading for Rebate details…

Low Income Household Rebate.

There are several rebates available to available to Pensioners, Health Card Holders and Veterans.  Go to the NSW Government website to check your eligibility for up to $785 of rebates per year.  Ring your current energy supplier and ask for the rebates to be applied to your account.

You may be eligible if you live in NSW and all of the following apply: 

  • you have an electricity account for your home in NSW
  • you’re the account holder (the account and bill must be in your name)
  • you hold one of the following:
    • Pensioner Concession Card issued by Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
    • Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or
    • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card marked with either ‘War Widow’, ‘War Widower Pension’, ‘Totally and Permanently Incapacitated’ (TPI) or ‘Disability Pension’ (EDA).

Low Income Households  –  Rebate Swap Offer.

Alternatively, you may be eligible for a free 3 KW solar system (fully installed) called the Rebate Swap offer (which is instead of the above rebate for a period of ten years).

This needs to be applied for via Service NSW, not your energy retailer

Families (Family Tax Benefit). 

The NSW Family Energy Rebate is up to $180 per retail (on-market) household, per financial year. You will also receive a one-off $500 National Energy Bill Relief Household Payment in financial year 2023-24. This needs to be applied for via Service NSW, not your energy retailer. 

You may be eligible if you live in NSW and all of the following apply:

  • you have an electricity account for your home in NSW
  • you’re the account holder (the account and bill must be in your name)
  • you received the Family Tax Benefit in the previous financial year, and you have:
    • lodged your tax return for the last financial year with the Australian Tax Office (ATO), and
    • finalised your entitlement to the Family Tax Benefit payments with Centrelink.


The NSW Seniors Energy Rebate helps eligible self-funded retirees pay their electricity bills.  The Seniors Energy Rebate is $200 per household, per financial year and customers can apply for the rebate each financial year.  You will also receive a one-off $500 National Energy Bill Relief Household Payment in financial year 2023-24. This needs to be applied for via Service NSW, not your energy retailer. 

To be eligible you must:

  • hold a current Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by either.
  • be the account holder named on the electricity bill
  • be a self-funded retiree living in NSW
  • be applying for the rebate for your main place of residence.

Click on the heading for resource details…

Renew Magazine

Renew magazine is the nation’s premier magazine devoted to practical, cost-effective technologies for environmentally sustainable homes and lifestyles.  Online and paper subscriptions available from $49 per annum. Subscribe here.

Renew Renters Guide to Sustainability

Tips for a more comfortable and energy efficient home. No matter if you’re a home owner or a home renter, you can make changes to your home to make it more comfortable, save money and reduce your environmental impact. With the smallest effort, there are many simple, inexpensive things you can do to make a difference. Download here.

‘The Energy-Freedom Home : How to wipe out electricity and gas bills in nine steps’

Hard copy book written by Richard Keech.  Practical, easy to read, step by step book published by Beyond Zero Emissions.  Highly recommended.  Available for loan at Port Stephens, Maitland, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Libraries, or for sale at Readers Retreat and other good bookshops.

‘The Good Solar Guide – 7 Steps to Tiny Bills For Australian Homeowners’

Hard copy book written by Finn Peacock.  Finn is a recognised authority on Household Solar in Australia and established the website Solar Quotes (Refer to Website links below).  If you prefer watching videos, Solar Quotes has an excellent You Tube Channel with lots of specific videos on a range of topics (See links below).  Many of the videos explain Solar for the novice or beginner and are easy watching, whilst being very informative.  Available for loan from Lake Mac Libraries.

Power Usage Meter 

This is a device to measure the energy usage of a single appliance in your home, which you can borrow from your local library.  This device will tell you the cost of running your fridge, kettle or any other appliance.  Once you better understand your energy consumption, you can formulate a plan to minimise or eliminate unnecessary usage.  

Lake Mac Libraries.  Ring or enquire at the branch and ask for “Power Usage Meter”.  Five available. Note: It is not possible to search the library catalogue for this item.  

Newcastle Libraries.  Called “Energy Cost Meter” and can be searched using the library catalogue. Two available.

Maitland Library.  The item is being renewed at the time of writing.  Hopefully will be available for loan soon. 

Useful Information

  • Renew : Get off Gas Toolkit.  Many useful ideas and links to get off gas and go electric.
  • Renew : You Tube Channel.  Videos on how to make your home more sustainable, get off gas and save on energy costs. 
  • Renew : Renters Guide to Sustainability. No matter if you’re a home owner or a home renter, you can make changes to your home to make it more comfortable, save money and reduce your environmental impact.
  • Staying cool and healthy at home in an El Nino summer. Dr John Shiel from EnviroSustain, a consultancy for low carbon buildings, and local sustainability guru and climate action advocate, John L. Hayes give us some practical tips on staying cool..
  • Energy Made Easy. Search for an alternative energy supplier to find a better energy deal.  There are many websites offering this service, but this is the Government version which is easy to use and is entirely free.  
  • Switched On. Great articles and podcasts on how to Electrify your home. 
  • Your Home.  Australia’s independent guide to designing, building or renovating homes to ensure they are energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and adaptable for the future.
  • 22 Ways to cut your Energy Bills.  A practical article on how to cut your energy costs, written by Tim Forcey.
  • Solar Quotes.  Website and You Tube Channel.  Heaps of really useful You Tube videos to help discover absolutely everything you need to know to buy a good quality solar power system installation in Australia with confidence, and at the right price.  Great for beginners  wanting to learn the basics before they jump into solar.
  • Solar Citizens. Solar Citizens have partnered up with clean technology service providers to help you make the switch and electrify your home.
  • Sunspot.  Not-for-profit SunSPOT solar and battery calculator estimates your system size, the cost, and how much you’ll save, privately and simply.  Great for those that are a little more “techy” and really want to discover what solar system is best for your home, rather than solely relying on the solar supplier to do all of the calculations.  This includes designing the most efficient layout of panels on your roof, using the supplied plan of your home’s roof. 
  • Upgrade your Household Lighting – LED’s 
  • NSW Government : Find an energy rebate.  Links to NSW rebates for electricity and gas. 
  • Solar Analytics.  Solar Maximiser, Discover how much rooftop solar, a battery or hot water heat pump can save you.
  • Federal Government website providing heaps of useful information on Federal government energy bill relief (up to $500 per eligible households) as well as energy savings ideas. 

On Line Shopping for Energy Efficient Products

There are many sources of online shopping for energy efficient products – here are just a few. (We do not recommend these over any others you might find). Another good way to find suppliers is in the Renew and Sanctuary magazines.

  • EcoMasterOn line store selling Home Efficiency Products such as DIY Draught Proofing products, insulation and lots more.
  • Tight House. On line store selling DIY Draught Proofing products.
  • Pure Electric. On line store selling energy efficient products including low flow shower heads, batteries and EV charges. 
  • Reduction Revolution. Huge on line store selling energy efficiency products including LED lights, Energy Monitors, Thermal Cameras, cooking appliances.
Published: 25 Oct 2023