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Having a baby in 2019? Here are 7 secret household costs you'll need to factor in.

While becoming a parent for the first time is undoubtedly exciting, it also comes with an unavoidable bank account. From possibly having to find a bigger home, upsizing your car and purchasing an endless supply of ‘stuff’, the expenses you come to face during this transitional period can often feel overwhelming.

But while there are costs we usually account for when preparing for a baby to arrive, what many soon-to-be parents don’t often realise is having a baby typically leads to 25 percent more energy usage in your home, according to energy.gov.au.

That’s why we’re here to help you make smarter decisions when it comes to your energy so when the youngest member of your household arrives, you’ll already be saving. Here are the household costs you should factor in and how you can save on them:

Appliances

Having a baby in your home usually means a whole bunch of new appliances. From baby monitors to formula makers to baby food blenders and night lights, you’re likely to find yourself reaching for the power point more often.

This is where it pays to consider the energy labels when you’re looking at buying these new items. Most of us know to look at the energy ratings closely when purchasing big-ticket items such as a new refrigerator or a washing machine, but smaller items can often be forgotten.

And usually, it’s the appliances with the cheaper price tag that lead to the biggest cost where your energy bill is concerned.

Many electric appliances in Australia have an Energy Rating Label, so it pays to have a read when deciding between appliances.

Aside from looking out for items that don’t burn up electricity, keeping electronic items plugged in but not in use, or in standby mode is silently adding three to 10 percent to your electricity bill.

And if you’re unsure of what to look out for, a little light or a clock on the item is a giveaway. So turning off these appliances can save you a fair amount of cash over the year.

Heating and cooling

We know ensuring rooms are at the right temperature are essential to ensure a baby gets to sleep and stays asleep. But this is where heating in winter and cooling in summer can quickly begin to cost you a bomb.

A good way to reduce energy costs associated with heating and cooling is to make sure you’re not heating or cooling rooms that you’re not using. That means if you move from room to room with your baby, ensure you’re turning off the air conditioner as you go.

Aside from the cost, over-heating or over-cooling a baby can have serious health risks. Thermal stress (over-heating) has been implicated in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SUDI and SIDS), so it’s important to monitor temperatures using a thermometer in your home and adjust when necessary.

Heating and cooling can account for 20 to 50 percent of your energy bill – so it’s worth looking into alternatives where you can. It might be using fans during hot weather, or installing curtains with heat-insulating fabric to keep the heat inside during cooler weather.

baby appliances
Keep your baby at the right temperature without consuming too much energy. Image: Getty.
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Washing and drying clothes

If there's one thing babies can go through faster than nappies, it's clean clothes, which often means you're washing more and more.

The most energy and water-efficient way to wash your clothes is to do a full load with cold water. So if you can manage it, it's best to wait for a big load of washing to do it all at once, instead of washing smaller loads of less items to save on energy and water.

If you're in the market for a new washing machine, front loaders are also more efficient than top loaders, using less detergent and washing more gently, meaning you'll get longer life out of your baby clothes.

Clothes dryers also suck up a lot of energy, so trying to only use it as an absolute necessity and opting for the good old clothes line instead will save on your power bill.

If it's winter and you're already heating the room, you can bring in a indoor clothes rack and dry all of your family's clothes at the same time.

The daily routine

If you're staying at home with a new baby, it's safe to assume you will be using more energy day to day, and during peak hours. So it can be a good idea to take note of your new routine and with some planning, you can save money while still meaning the all-important needs of your baby.

Bathing

While bathing a baby doesn't use up a lot of water, lots of baths can. So instead of sending the water down the drain, reuse it where you can in the garden, just avoid the veggie patch.

Cleaning

If you're finding yourself spending lots of money on various cleaning products. it can pay to go back to basic and use simpler cleaning methods with products such as bicarbonate soda and vinegar. Another benefit of this is you're using less chemicals in and around your home.

Feeding

You can further save money and plastics by making your own baby food. Ice cube trays are a great way to potion purees and freeze them for use at a later point. A baby food blender will also make this easier. There are options where one side steams while the other blends to make things faster and more efficient.

Nappies

Nappies are one of the most highly disposed of items when you first become a parent.  Aussie throw away over a billion disposable nappies each year with take up to 300 years to decompose, according to CSIRO research.

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So this is where you need to come to a decision over whether you will use cloth nappies or disposable nappies. That being said, the water and energy that goes into washing and cleaning cloth nappies isn't always the best environmental choice either. This is particularly the case if you are washing them in hot water and then tumble drying them.

But if you are washing and drying cloth nappies efficiently, the impact is far less than using disposables. Cloth nappies are also far cheaper to purchase than disposable options.

Alternatively, you could opt for a combination of both, such as cloth nappies at home and disposables when you are out and about travelling.

Bonus tip: Call your energy provider

There's one more thing you can do to save those extra dollars once baby comes along. Call your energy provider and ask "can I get a better deal?"

This phone call could save you anywhere from $250 to $600 depending on where you live in Australia.

On January 1, energy providers dropped their prices on their most expensively priced plans for certain customers following pressure from the Australian Government.

But by making a call to your provider, you can switch from a higher priced standing offer to the best "market offer" and save immediately.

For a simple guide about what to say to your energy provider and how to compare prices with other energy providers, visit poweringforward.energy.gov.au.

With a bit of forward planning and smart thinking, you can tackle all of these hidden costs that come with that exciting chapter of welcoming a new baby at home.

How did you save on energy when you started having a family? Tell us in the comments section below.

Want to help make Australia a better place for women and girls? Take our survey now to help.

MMSurvey
Department of Environment and Energy: Powering Forward

Call your energy provider today to get a better deal. For tips on making the call, visit PoweringForward.energy.gov.au

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