Appliances that chew through your money

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Are exorbitant power bills killing your buzz? Rather than relying on your credit card or savings account to pay your electricity provider, consider changing your power consumption. 

By targeting appliances that chew through electricity, you might be able to drive down your monthly bills, putting more money in your pocket (or your savings account.)

The main offenders


Appliance Typical consumption per hour Cost Per Hour
(at 10 cents per
Air conditioner/heat pump 15,000 watts $1.50
Clothes dryer/water heater 4,000 watts  40 cents
Water pump 3,000 watts  30 cents 
Space heater  1,500 watts 15 cents
Hair dryer 1,500 watts  15 cents
Refrigerator 1,000 watts  10 cents


Topping their list of the highest appliance wattages are central air conditioner/heat pumps (15,000 wattage use), costing roughly $1.50 per hour and clothes dryers (4000 wattage use) at 40c an hour.

Dishwashers (1200-2400), clothes irons (1000–1800), vacuum cleaners (1000–1440), toasters (800–1400), portable heaters (750–1500) and hair dryers (1200–1875) are also high offenders.

How is over-consumption of energy measured? 

These energy-guzzling appliances are judged by typical wattage consumption for everyday appliances and the average cost of running them per hour. It is important that you take into account the usage of each appliance, the wattage and the operating settings when trying to cut down on your electricity bill. 

However, saving on energy doesn’t mean you have to go without your game console, wear crumpled shirts to work or let your hair dry naturally (though these are, of course, options). There are ways to use your favourite appliances more efficiently – which in return, will save you money.

Switch it off

Leaving mobile phone, laptop and tablet chargers plugged into the wall with the power on could be running up your electricity bill even when you aren’t utilising them. Getting into the habit of switching off ‘all’ electrical appliances and chargers can help drive down your power bill as appliances, such as your plasma screen television, still use energy even when on standby mode. 

Cutting big item costs down

Most Australians couldn’t live without their microwaves, fridges and washing machines. Luckily you don’t have to – there are ways to manage these big items so you consume less energy and alleviate the pressure on your bank account.

Fridges are a staple appliance in Aussie households, one you can’t switch off periodically. But you can save money on the electricity it uses by controlling its temperature. Energy Australia recommends keeping your fridge temperature between 4-5 degrees and your freezer set at -15 and -18 degrees celsius. 

Recently released their Appliance Replacement Offer, which means that eligible members of the public willing to switch to a more energy efficient appliance (i.e. a new fridge or a new plasma television) will now be entitled to up to half the cost of the appliance being covered by the government. With energy efficient fridges saving between $100 to $200 a year, this may be an investment worth making for some. 

While microwaves use less electricity than ovens, it’s still wise to leave your food in the fridge to thaw instead of using the microwave.

When you are using the oven, try to leave your oven door alone. Each time you don’t open the door to peek a look at your baked goods the more money you’ll be saving. 

As for cleanliness, Energy Australia advised it’s best to only run washing machines and clothes dryers on full loads. Another hot tip is to avoid hot water! You’ll save on energy costs by using cold water when washing your clothes.  

How you’re protected

Following a 2014 report from the Grattan Institute by Tony Wood and Lucy Carter which purported that Australians were paying unfair prices on energy bills, procedures of reform are in motion. The Coag Energy Council, who are responsible for pursuing priority issues and key reforms in resources and energy sectors nationally, proposed a National Energy Guarantee (NEM) that “aims to support the provision of reliable, secure and affordable electricity with a focus on ensuring:

  • the reliability of the system is maintained

  • electricity sector emissions reductions needed to meet Australia’s international commitments are achieved

  • the above objectives are met at the lowest overall costs.”

    The Energy Security Board (ESB) recently published a consultation for the draft design of the Guarantee (15 February 2018). To find out more on the NEM click here. In the meantime, if you think that you are paying too much for your energy supplier, it doesn’t hurt to shop around and see what other options may be available to you.


^Words such as "top", "best", "cheapest" or "lowest" are not a recommendation or rating of products. This page compares a range of products from selected providers and not all products or providers are included in the comparison. There is no such thing as a 'one- size-fits-all' financial product. The best loan, credit card, superannuation account or bank account for you might not be the best choice for someone else. Before selecting any financial product you should read the fine print carefully, including the product disclosure statement, fact sheet or terms and conditions document and obtain professional financial advice on whether a product is right for you and your finances.

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