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Tips for saving money in your first home

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Buying your first home can be an exhilarating experience. After months or years of saving for a deposit on your dream home, it can come as a great relief to finally move your things into the property. However, while you may have had some experience with energy bills while renting, electricity prices can sometimes be a shock to young home owners.

Your energy requirements can depend on the property itself, as well as the climate, but you needn't be disheartened if your first utility bill is higher than expected - you can still cut down on energy usage and shave dollars from your expenses. Here are some tips for reducing energy use in your first home. 

Hot (and cold)

Australia has a diverse climate, but heating your home during winter and cooling throughout the summer months accounts for around 40 per cent of your energy bill, according to the Australian government's Your Home website. This is the largest share of energy use in the home, but there are ways to reduce your usage and remain comfortable. 

The type of heating and cooling you need will depend on the size of your home. To reduce the amount you spend on cooling, focus on the rooms you use most often - a centralised system can be zoned to certain areas of the home, or only install air conditioning units where they are needed most.

According to the Victorian state government, room temperatures should be set between 18 to 26 degrees over the year. It suggests 26 degree during the height of summer and 18 to 20 degrees at other times of the year - in fact, every 10 degrees above this level can add a further 10 per cent to your bill. Keep the thermostat consistent and switch it off when you are not at home. 

Light it up

According to Your Home, lighting accounts for 8 to 15 per cent of a household's energy bill. To bring this proportion down, replace standard incandescent light bulbs throughout your new home with energy-efficient lighting. There are often local or state government incentives for this purpose - it could be worth investigating the options available in your region. 

An effective lighting plan can create sizeable savings each year. Think about the areas in your home that require more lighting than others and research what lighting technology would work for that area's purpose. For instance, the NSW Office of Heritage and Environment notes that compact fluorescent bulbs are best for rooms where lights are switched on for at least three hours a day, and are a good source of general light in a high-use area like the kitchen.

Switching gear

It's important to get into good energy habits in your first home, so think about doing an electricity comparison. This might involve pinpointing where and how you use energy and comparing prices across suppliers to find the a cost-effective deal. Switching to an alternative energy provider could be a good solution - and a service like Make It Cheaper can help take the hard work out of the process.

Posted by Nikki Wilson-Everett