Winter is coming: How your wallet can survive the cold season

Though temperatures here in Australia aren’t expected to get as cold as, say, Iceland (or The North of Westeros for you Game of Throner’s, winter is here and things are getting chilly.

Because of this, winter often sees prices of certain bills rise, such as electricity and gas.

So how can your wallet survive winter this year? With put together some handy tips.

Power and heating

We all know how our bills rise during the winter months. Many gas and electricity companies boost their prices when customers are using more of their service, such as these mid-year months, according to the Australian Energy Regulator.

Considering 40% of the average Aussie power bill is used for heating during winter, says the Australian government, here are some ways to cut your power needs:

Find air gaps

The Australian government also states that 15-20% of all winter heat loss is due to air leakage. Over a building’s life, tiny holes and cracks can appear that let all your heat out, and these need to be plugged.

Light an incense stick and walk around the inside of your exterior walls and windows. If the smoke suddenly catches a draft, chances are there’s a hole. You can fill it with a caulking material from your local hardware store.

Switch to solar

Though costly to switch to at the outset, renewable green energy such as solar can cut your heating costs in the long term.

Imagine acquiring all the electricity you need each day simply from the power of the sun. According to Origin Energy, installing solar panels could save you up to $1,255 each year if you live in NSW, based on the company’s own averages.

Technology such as evacuated tube solar hot water could also cut your costs. These use the power of the sun’s heat to naturally warm up your regular mains water, reducing your need for a standard boiler.

Power up your Velocity Points

You could power up your Velocity Points balance while powering up your home. Velocity Frequent Flyer members can earn Velocity Points by signing up and paying their electricity or gas bills with energy provider Lumo Energy in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria or South Australia. Visit velocityfrequentflyer.com to find out more.

Fuel costs

We all know the story: You wake up for work, roll out of bed, feel how cold it is and decide to drive, rather than walk.

Ultimately, your main goal in winter should be to continue to walk, cycle or catch the bus where possible. That’s why they invented winter woollies! It might seem more appealing to drive, but your wallet will thank you for choosing not to – and perhaps your waistline will too.

Fuel economy

According to the US Department of Energy’s research, fuel economy can actually become significantly worse during colder weather. This won’t be an issue for more northern parts of Australia, but those of you who reside in areas such as Canberra, Hobart and the Snowy Mountains may find this becomes a reality. The research showed a 12% reduction in fuel economy at -6 degrees Celsius. Hopefully we won’t get so cold here, but our cars could still suffer to a lesser degree.

When the forecast predicts near-freezing temperatures, try to store your car somewhere indoors and slightly warmer (e.g. a garage). Also:

  • Idle for less time. The car warms up faster if it is moving, so idle for no more than 30 seconds
  • Try to combine trips to reduce the amount of starts and stops your car must make
  • Check your tyre pressure regularly

Fill up and Fly

Unless you’ve been buried by frosty alpine snow, you would have heard about the new partnership between BP and Velocity. Velocity Frequent Flyer members can earn Velocity Points by filling up at participating BP outlets. Check the terms and conditions, and as they say, ‘Fill up and Fly’.

Budgets and bills

With bills mounting up, you might be tempted to starting putting some of them on the credit card. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you have a plan to pay it off before your start accruing interest charges. But it makes winter perhaps more important than any other season when it comes to budgeting and keeping on top of your finances.

Plan your finances

Make a budget of all the things you spend per month, so you’ll go into winter knowing exactly where you could cut out some fat. If you see your electricity bill rise sharply, you could balance it by reducing something less important as we hibernate for winter.

It’s time. Winter is coming here. Make sure your wallet can survive the cold season.

What is your winter bills battle plan?