You’ve got the power
ELECTRICITY prices are set to spike nationally from tomorrow, giving some parts of Australia the unwanted record of having the most expensive power on the planet. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows electricity prices have more than doubled in the past decade and have grown four times faster than inflation. The $300-plus average annual price rise intensifies the pain for households. However, ANTHONY KEANE reckons there are a few ways to fight back — and it won’t cost you too much time to do so.
TRY THESE TACTICS 1 CHECK HOW YOUR BILL COMPARES
The first step is to know whether your existing energy retailer is charging you too much, so read your latest bill in detail. Comparison websites such as mozo.com.au, iselect.com.au and comparethemarket.com.au can give you an idea how your current plan stacks up. The federal government also has a website, energymadeeasy.gov.au, that offers independent comparisons.
2 THREATEN YOUR RETAILER
Most states have several energy retailers competing fiercely for customers, even as the biggest companies bring in price rises of 16-20 per cent from tomorrow. They’re unlikely to call you out of the blue and offer a better rate, but if you phone your retailer and threaten to go elsewhere, you will probably be put through to their customer retention department, which can offer cheaper deals.
3 MAKE THE SWITCH
If your retailer won’t budge on pricing, be prepared to walk. The best electricity deals are offered to new customers rather than existing ones. Power is not a consumer product where there are different qualities — you either have it or you don’t. If you switch to a new retailer, they will gladly help you make the move.
4 USE LESS POWER
It sounds obvious, but many households waste hundreds of dollars a year because they are less energy-efficient than they could be. There are hundreds of practical tips easily found online. Simply search for “electricity savings tips” or “energy efficiency tips” and you will find free advice from energy retailers, government departments and comparison websites. Here’s a few handy tips: DON’T set your thermostat too high. In winter, experts say you should keep it around 20- 21C — and every degree higher adds 10 per cent to your bill; ONLY heat the rooms you are using, reduce draughts and make sure you have good insulation; GET rid of that second fridge, which is usually an older model that’s expensive to run, and; USE energy-efficient globes, such as LEDs, rather than expensive halogen downlights. Avoid wasting money on standby power by turning off appliances at the wall.
5 GO GREEN
The growth of renewable energy has been blamed for rising household energy costs, but some energy experts say it’s more to do with power companies being allowed to jack up their prices. That may be a fair argument, considering many African households can pay less than $100 a year for electricity through solar and other systems.
Governments in Australia no longer offer generous rebate schemes for new solar systems. System prices have plunged in recent years, and the new wave of battery storage systems are already dropping in price. If you can afford the initial outlay, generating your own power may be an option to consider. firstname.lastname@example.org @keanemoney