You’ve got the power

Herald Sun - - NEWS -

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. an­thony.keane@news.com.au @keanemoney

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