Getting out of hot water with your energy bills
The first winter energy bill can come as a shock but there are ways you can avoid running up big bills, according to EECA ENERGYWISE.
Technical Adviser Christian Hoerning says it's important not to scrimp on heating because living in a cold, damp house can cause respiratory and other illnesses. However Mr Hoerning says many households can save on their hot water bills without compromising comfort.
He suggests running a bucket test to find out if you can cut your hot water use.
"Turn the shower on to a comfortable hot temperature. If the shower fills a 10 litre bucket in less than a minute, it's wasting water, energy and money. If the shower fills the bucket in only 40 seconds, a family of four could save about $500 a year on their electricity bills.
You can replace your shower head for one with a more efficient flow rate of 9 litres a minute or less or you can install an inexpensive shower flow restrictor to your existing shower (9 litres a minute or less), Mr Hoerning says.
"An efficient shower head gives you a great shower - we are not suggesting you shower in a trickle of water."
If people in your house have 20 minute showers, you might want to look at the maths, according to Mr Hoerning.
"In a household of four, each minute you add to your shower time is about $100 a year."
Washing your clothes in cold water will also save you money. Mr Hoerning calculates that at four loads a week, cold water washes could save you around $55 - $80 each year.
Shopping around for an energy supplier which best meets your needs is another way you can greatly reduce your energy costs. The What's My Number website is a free and independent tool which allows you to do just that.
Last winter New Zealanders visited the What's My Number website more than 60,000 times, with the national average for estimated savings identified by the site coming in at $175 annually, and with many families saving up to $500.