Aussies will be shutting themselves in, changing their water usage habits and be very wary about how they use electric appliances this summer in an attempt to keep their power bills in check but new research shows many are greatly underestimating the burden rising energy costs could pose to the household budget over the next five years.
Commissioned by Solahart, an online Newspoll survey of more than 1200 Australians aged 18 to 64 found an overwhelming majority of respondents (89%) said they will be closing their curtains or blinds to keep the house cool during summer and reduce their energy bills while 83% are likely to be washing clothes in cold rather than hot water.
Being quick in and out of the fridge and taking shorter or cooler showers were also cited by 80% of Aussies as other likely power-saving measures, and 79% said they will be switching off appliances at the power point to decrease their power usage. Almost a quarter (24%) of those surveyed also noted they were likely to use candles for lighting, just to help reduce their energy bills over summer.
Stephen Cranch, GM Sales and Marketing Renewables, at Solahart, Australia’s leading solar water heater manufacturer, said that increasing power prices were forcing behavioural change but warned many still seem unaware of the extent to which energy prices could soar in the next few years.
“People are clearly scrambling to cover costs and searching for any way possible to help reduce their power usage. For example, 52% of respondents said they would go to a shopping centre or cinema to cool down in an effort to save on running air conditioners or fans at home,” Mr Cranch said.
“Our research also shows consumers’ perceptions of just how much power prices are likely to rise are out of step with reality.”
The survey revealed that 27% of Australians believe energy prices will rise between just 1 and 5% in two years’ time, while a further 40% believe prices will rise between 6 and 20%. When asked about the longer term outlook, 48% of people said they believed energy prices would rise by no more than 20% over the next five years.
These predictions are in stark contrast to the reality of recent trends in power price increases – household electricity prices rose around 40 per cent between 2007 and 2010 and most states again experienced sizable increases in energy costs in mid-2011. While future predictions vary, some electricity providers have indicated prices could increase by 20% in the next year alone.
“It is likely that the strong upward trend in power prices will continue so many Australians could be in for a rude shock when it comes to their energy bills over the next couple of years,” said Mr Cranch.
“Keeping power bills in check by taking small measures to conserve energy is a great start but ultimately households need to be moving to sustainable energy options now to help mitigate the impact of major hikes in power prices in the future,” he said.
“The most effective way to cut your energy expenditure is to become more energy efficient and one of the best ways to do that is to replace your electric water heater with a solar alternative.
“Electric water heaters account for around 25% of a household’s energy use and switching to a solar water heater will reduce water heating energy consumption by up to 50-90%. This will not only decrease your household’s harmful CO² emissions but can also lower your power bills,” Mr Cranch said.
From 2012, the Federal Government plans to phase out electric water heaters which means households needing to replace an electric hot water system will be required to install an environmentally friendly alternative such as a solar water heater or heat pump, making now a good time to go solar.
The Federal and some State Governments are currently offering generous rebates to eligible home-owners who swap their electric water heater for a solar hot water system, however these incentives won’t be around forever so consumers are advised to get in quick.
For energy saving tips or to find out more about a Solahart solar water heater, please visit www.solahart.com.au or call 1300 721 914.