I am staring out the office window hoping for some inspiration for this blog post and what I am staring at is vertical rain, not teaming down, rather it is drifting. It is decidedly snow-like rain, and it sure feels cold enough to be snow.
Most of you will have noticed your power consumption increasing over the past few weeks as winter has approached. At first it starts increasing gradually as the days get shorter and the lights are on longer, and as you spend more time at home watching TV or on the computer. Then the first cold southerly blast comes through and the heaters get cranked up, and the “leckie blankets” get pulled out from the back of the linen cupboard. You know then that your power (and/or gas) bills are going to really start biting – I spotted this on twitter this morning “so begins the mortgage payment sized powerbills”. You want to keep warm, so to some extent these bills are unavoidable. But with Powershop there are a few things you can do to try and make a difference.
Avoid bill shock
You know you’re going to be using more power, but do you know exactly how much more, or how much this is likely to cost you? Now is the time of year you can really benefit from entering your meter readings once a week to see how your usage is tracking and how much you’re spending.
Also, you may find it valuable or comforting to buy some power in advance so that you know that at least some of your winter power costs have already been covered.
Here’s a few tips:
- Check your meter once a week and enter your reading. Do it when you put out the rubbish.
- Relate your consumption to your power behaviour. Were you doing more clothes drying or were cold temperatures making the heat pump work overtime?
- Try shutting off some of your power vampires – appliances that sit on standby when they’re not in use.
For those of you with iPhones, entering a meter reading couldn’t be easier. Download either the Powershop demonstration app or the Powerkiwi Flower Power app (details of both of these are available on our iPhone page), link the application to your account and you can check your balance, enter meter readings and top up your account, all from your phone.
We are also aware that there is at least one developer out there using our API to develop an application for Android phones to provide similar functionality.
Monitor your usage
If you are entering your meter readings each week you will quickly see when you start using more power and this may help you identify what is causing the increase and things you might need to change to help reduce your consumption and how much you are spending.
Set a savings target
Whether or not you are a Powershop customer you can set yourself a power savings target and use our Powersaver application to track progress towards this target. Remember, you will use more power at this time of year, so be realistic when you set your target. Try a little bit first and see how you go, then gradually increase your savings target. Why not run a savings competition with a group of friends? Powersaver lets you share your usage with your friends. If you are a Powershop customer you can automatically link your account, if you are not you can enter meter readings straight into PowerSaver.
There are plenty of websites out there with tips on how you can save power (such as Smarter Homes) You can enter your own power saving tips into PowerSaver for others to see too.
Some of you may have heard of Google PowerMeter. This is a project being run by the philanthropic arm of Google. They are working with device manufacturers worldwide to measure appliance and household power consumption, and like our PowerSaver application present this information back to electricity consumers and their friends.
Earlier this year Google made their API (Application Programming Interface) public. This means that anyone can collect electricity consumption information and feed it into Google PowerMeter. It is early days yet, but we have been experimenting with Google PowerMeter to assess the value of linking Powershop accounts into Google PowerMeter. Connecting into PowerMeter now will allow our customers to treat current and future innovations by Google as an extension of their power account.
Anyway folks, rug up, keep warm, keep an eye on your power usage, and watch those pennies.