There's no better time than the beginning of a new year to have a look at a few of the biggest expenses in your life and figure out where you can make some savings.
Whether it's switching to a better-value health insurance policy, learning how you can cool your home more efficiently or dropping some expensive habits, our CHOICE experts have crunched the numbers to show where savings can be made over a year. A hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there all adds up, after all!
1. Save up to $1520 by switching health insurance
If you haven't reviewed your health insurance in a while, now's the time. New research from CHOICE experts shows that, depending on where you live in Australia and which policy you have, you could save between $550 and $1520 a year on top hospital cover by simply switching to a different fund.
CHOICE health insurance expert Uta Mihm says, "The same cover with a different insurer can be hundreds of dollars cheaper so we encourage you to shop around to see if there is a better deal out there.
"Whether you have a Gold, Silver or Bronze policy, it's likely that you'll be able to find a cheaper deal that will give you the same cover."
Make a smart switch today by comparing health insurance policies at CHOICE.
2. Save $135 per year by switching to washing full loads with cold water
(And up to $500 with other smart laundry swaps)
Something as simple as switching the dial on your washing machine to cold and doing a full load instead of half can help you save at least one big green note this year, because you'll be using far less electricity.
Surely washing on cold can't give you the same results as washing on warm or hot though? Surprise: our tests show the difference is marginal, particularly when you consider that many detergents are designed specifically for washing in cold water.
"Washing in warm water is slightly better than washing in cold, but it's so close these days that it's not worth the extra energy and cost of a warm cycle, particularly with modern enzyme-based detergents that are designed for cold-water washing," says Ashley.
3. Save up to $350 by switching your gas and electricity provider
Over the past two years, many of us have spent more time working from home, homeschooling and generally within our own four walls than ever before. One of the side-effects? Greater household energy use.
At the same time, over the past two years, the cost of the median discounted electricity plan available to most Australian households has decreased more than 13%.
With falling prices comes the opportunity to potentially save on your energy bills by switching your provider, especially if you haven't done so in a while.
And energy switching provider, Bill Hero, which has partnered with CHOICE, says consumers can save an average of $350 the first time they switch.
Find out more on how to switch energy providers to save.
4. Save up to $100 with a more energy-efficient fridge
OK so this switch may require you to outlay some cash on a new fridge but, trust us, it's worth it in the long run if your old one is practically leaking money.
Your fridge and freezer runs 24/7 and accounts for around eight percent of your household energy bill, so if you don't own an energy-efficient model, we guarantee it's costing you.
CHOICE kitchen appliance expert Ashley Iredale says, "When we crunched the numbers in our last review, we found that the difference between the cost of running the most efficient fridge and the least efficient fridge over a year was $101.60. That can add up to quite a lot of money over the lifetime of the appliance."
5. Save up to $180 or more by turning your appliances off at the power point
Leaving certain appliances on standby can be a huge energy suck that's costing you cash. The simple answer? Our experts say that turning your appliances off at the power point can make a real difference.
In addition to common household appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators, many of us now have several connected devices in our homes – think smart speakers, printers, smart TVs and more.
While some are costing more than others as they idle in standby mode, you could be paying hundreds of dollars or more per year for unnecessary power (not to mention the extra greenhouse gases you're contributing to the atmosphere).
CHOICE technology expert Denis Gallagher says: "We found that some of the biggest energy hogs when left on standby are printers, digital video recorders and wireless routers."
"Other appliances such as TVs and air conditioners won't cost you much if left on standby, but isn't it better to have the money in your pocket, rather than in the electricity company's?"
6. Save up to $2000 by making your coffees at home
You probably know that your daily flat white at the local cafe isn't the cheapest way to get your caffeine fix, but have you ever thought about how much it really adds up to over a year?
If you buy two large coffees a day, it could be costing you up to $2000 more a year than if you invested in a manual coffee machine and made your cuppas yourself at home.
There's of course convenience, your skill level and the environmental impact of takeaway coffee cups to consider as well – we've broken it all down here: Is it worth owning your own espresso coffee machine?
7. Save $200 by heating your home with a reverse-cycle air conditioner instead of a portable heater
Winter may seem far away, but planning how you're going to heat your home now can mean serious savings later on.
For example, although they're often cheap to buy and convenient to pick up from the store when a cold snap hits, portable electric heaters are one of the most expensive ways to keep your home warm.
If you use a portable electric heater to warm a small room in winter, CHOICE experts say you can save around $200 over the season by switching to a reverse-cycle air conditioner.
Of course, reverse-cycle air conditioners are significantly more expensive to install and not feasible for all. But this is another case of where you can outlay some extra cash to guarantee yourself some savings.
8. Or, save up to $175 by switching to a more efficient heater
If reverse-cycle air conditioning isn't an option for you and you need to stick with a portable electric heater, buy the most efficient model possible.
CHOICE experts say the running costs between models can differ by up to $175 over the winter.
9. Save up to $170 by upgrading your lighting
If you use old incandescent and halogen light bulbs in your home instead of modern LEDs, you could be wasting a lot of money on energy.
For a typical household lit with 100W incandescent bulbs, switching to 14W LED bulbs will give you the same amount of light, and around $170 a year back in your pocket.
10. Do you buy bottled sparkling water? A soda maker could save you $150 or more a year
Ditch the plastic bottles you have to lug home from the supermarket and invest in a soda maker to save at least $150 a year.
We did the maths and found that even if you use high levels of carbonation, making sparkling water with a SodaStream or another brand of soda maker is usually cheaper than buying bottled sparkling water (especially if you have a penchant for the pricey imported stuff and drink a couple of litres per day).