According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, by 2030 almost a third of all households in this country will be occupied by one person – that’s 3.2 million homes where every electricity bill, every gas bill, every rental payment is covered by a single income. And though the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre’s recently published “budget standards” stated a single adult would need to spend $600 a week, this didn’t allow for “even the most modest or occasional ‘luxuries’ and [if] wastage was kept to an absolute minimum”. Economies of scale mean a couple needs only 1.5 times as much money as a single, so if you’re a solo flyer, here’s how to get that ratio back in your favour.
Help your air conditioner out
We all like to live comfortably but heating and cooling can really blow out a bill. Keep a lid on those costs by shutting curtains and blinds, seeking out and blocking drafts, only heating/cooling the areas you are using and keeping your thermostat in the 18-20 degree zone.
Keep those showers short…
Who doesn’t love a long soak at the end of the day? The water and energy bills associated with that, not so much. Low-flow showerheads can really help with keeping shower volumes to a minimum. Quite like your showerhead as it is? Invest in a Waterpebble – a simple, streamlined timer that, once set, shows green when you’re okay to lather away, yellow as you’re nearing a finish time and red at around the four-minute mark.
… and reuse water where possible
It’s the little things that can really add up over time. Save the water you use when boiling eggs, vegetables or pasta, and use it to water your plants. If possible, do the same with grey water from your washing machine or shower. Put a plug in the sink if you’re running the tap to wash dishes by hand or rinse fruit and vegetables. You’ll be amazed at how the greenery around the house loves a daily soak.
Sort your smalls
Try to wash less frequently, only using the washing machine – and dishwasher – when they’re full. Use cold water when washing clothes, making sure to adjust the water level to match a partial load. Also, use the free solar dryer shining down on you – it helps kill germs and keep whites whiter. Tumble dryers suck up a lot of energy and are rougher on your clothes.
Blitz your house
Check the seals and clean the coils on your fridge; fix any leaking taps; make sure your oven is clean and the door seals properly; empty the washing machine and dryer filters regularly; unplug phantom electronics like DVD players, chargers, printers and televisions when not in use; replace incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient LED ones; block off chimneys (if they’re not being used, obviously); and plant native shrubs that require less watering. Taking some time to iron out the details of your home can save you serious dollars on your next bill.
There are plenty of upsides to living the independent life, and with just a few tweaks to your lifestyle, you’ll find that it doesn’t have to be a financial burden either.