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How to decrease energy bills in a share house

By George Hadgelias

Splitting bills in a share house can be a touchy subject, particularly when a rogue bill arrives with a significant spike in monthly energy usage. 

But there are some simple ways to cut down on how much energy you and your housemates burn through each week.

Cook together

If all occupants of a three-person house cook dinners individually every night, that’s 21 dinners being fried, baked and barbecued each week.

That’s just crazy.

Three people using each appliance three times a day will ramp up your energy costs quicker than you can say “it’d be cheaper just to get takeaway”.

Try cooking one or two “house meals” each a week.

Aside from saving money on energy bills, cooking in bulk is also a guaranteed way to save you money at the checkout.

Those who live together, launder together

There’s nothing wrong with teaming up with a housemate if both of you have only a small load of clothes ready for washing.

Wait until you have a full load between you before putting on the machine or, if you simply must do your load this instant, ask your housemates if they’ve got anything they want to throw in.

Shorter showers

If an egg timer mysteriously appears in the shower one day, suction-cupped onto the wall, you know the message your housemate is trying to convey.

To save the awkward situation of passive-aggressively being told to cut your shower time, it’s best to have a conversation about shower length when you first move in.

If everyone keeps their showers to four minutes, you’ll not only keep the peace, but thank each other when the bill arrives.

Hand washing is for chumps

You probably think you’re being a good housemate and washing your dishes by hand the moment you’ve finished with them.

And you are.

But while your roomies will love you for keeping the dishes clean, they won’t love it at the end of the month when the bill turns up and the cost of three people washing their own dishes separately is revealed.

Just like your washing machine, it makes far more sense to stack those dishes and put on a full load than run three sinks of hot water, particularly when you consider that a dishwasher cycle is more energy efficient than just one of those full sinks.

Flash your card

Check if someone in your house is eligible for a healthcare card, as these can offer substantial discounts on utility bills.

And the best part is that everyone can enjoy those benefits if you put the bills in that housemate’s name.

Who’s using what?

“Smart” electricity meters are becoming increasingly common and will give you a very accurate breakdown of where your energy is going.

Pair one of the meters with a web portal or in-home display and you’ll know exactly which appliances are gobbling up the most power each day, in real time, and can adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Now it’s on you to have that hard discussion with the bloke in the bedroom next door about why he’s got things running in his room all day, even when he’s not home.

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