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How to keep power vampires out of your home this winter

By Craig Catley

Vampires: creatures as dangerous as they are attractive. While they spend most of their time in books, TV and myths, it's time most of us took a look around our homes – there are probably a few vampires lurking around. In the kitchen, in the living room, even the bedroom. Of course, we're not talking about vampires of the blood sucking variety – we mean your appliances.

Every year, we waste hundreds of dollars by leaving appliances on when they're not in use, sucking electricity and bumping up our power bills. They might not have fangs, but they're still going to bite your finances. 

Let's identify some of the worst culprits in the home, as well as the kinds of appliances that you can use to enhance the appeal of your property. 

In the bathroom

Auckland Council data shows that more than a fifth of North Shore properties have four bedrooms, while nearly half have three – suggesting that a huge number of homes have at least two bathrooms. Unfortunately, this is also where a lot of power bills can rise.

According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), showers cost a dollar for every 15 minutes. That means if four people in a household showered in 5 minutes rather than 15, they could save in excess of $900 every year. Fixing your shower head will also help, especially in those multi-bathroom properties. Try switching to one that saves water without compromising on your pressure.

The bathroom is the site of some significant power cost cuts.

Watch your towel racks too – the EECA warns that if you leave one on all the time, it can cost more than $170 per year, doubled for multiple bathrooms. It all adds up – stopping these power vampires early, especially in winter, can have immediate benefits.

In the kitchen

Trust Power believes we spend more than $100 million every year on our power bills just by not unplugging appliances at the wall, or by leaving them on standby. Let's start fixing this in the kitchen. Kettles, toasters, microwaves, blenders – these can all be packed away or unplugged when not in use.

Spare fridges are next. If you have one in the garage that's not in use (or perhaps only used for a few cold ones), it can cost $300 per year. Can its contents fit in your regular fridge?

In the lounge

Our preference for leaving appliances plugged in goes into overdrive in the lounge. TVs, gaming consoles, stereos and lamps are often on from the moment we get home until we go to sleep, and just left on standby thereafter.

In the long term, using inefficient heaters can also be more expensive than fixing your insulation. Think about where cold air comes in and hot air escapes in each room – if you're running heaters with open doors or no door stops, you're essentially wasting money.

Remember – fixing your insulation will pay dividends, especially in living areas. If you're buying a property to rent out on the North Shore, it'll also mean you're up to date with the latest government legislation. 

In the laundry

You know using the clothes line is more energy-efficient than putting a load in the dryer, but do you know by how much? According to Trust Power again, the difference can be more than $200 per year.

If you can get away with it, using a cold wash instead of a hot one can also make cleaning your clothes a tenth of the cost, there are also a range of cold wash detergents that will clean your clothes to the same quality as a hot wash for around the same price as normal detergent – handy, right?

Inevitably, you're going to deal with high bills – especially during winter. But by identifying the vampire appliances that take up more power than usual, you can cut down on your costs and improve your home while you're at it.

Want more tips on managing your North Shore property? Check out the rest of our blog, or give one of our team a call.

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