En­ergy bill burnout

A ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralian house­holds say their power bills have gone up in the past year, writes

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - MoneysaverHQ. com. au

WHEELY GOOD FRIENDS: Koopah Gaudry, 2, pic­tured with Stella, one of sev­eral four- legged mem­bers of her fam­ily. FAM­I­LIES are on the hunt for ways to re­duce costs, af­ter gas and elec­tric­ity prices in­creased on July 1, mean­ing house­hold bills are likely to soar by hun­dreds of dol­lars an­nu­ally. The na­tion’s largest en­ergy re­tail­ers AGL, Ori­gin and En­ergy Aus­tralia all hiked their prices, at a time when less than one in four peo­ple can pay their en­ergy bills eas­ily, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Galaxy for fi­nan­cial com­par­i­son web­site iS­elect .

Warm­ing costs in the cooler states is be­ing blamed for nine

So­phie Elsworth

out of 10 house­holds be­ing wor­ried about their en­ergy bills in win­ter, but iS­elect spokes­woman Laura Crow­den said there are im­por­tant steps con­sumers can take to re­duce the fi­nan­cial pain.

“The re­cent price hikes should prompt cus­tomers to re­view their cur­rent con­tract and make sure they are still get­ting a good deal,’’ she said.

“Most en­ergy com­pa­nies put a lot of ef­fort into at­tract­ing new cus­tomers with gen­er­ous in­tro­duc­tory of­fers but these dis­counts gen­er­ally ex­pire af­ter a year or two. “If you’ve been with the same provider for sev­eral years, you could be pay­ing a lot more than you need to.”

New anal­y­sis by En­ergy Aus­tralia found cus­tomers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Aus­tralia use 40 per cent more en­ergy in win­ter than sum­mer, push­ing their bills up sig­nif­i­cantly. Ms Crow­den urged con­sumers to weigh up special in­tro­duc­tory of­fers ver­sus on­go­ing rates and fees, be­cause the en­tic­ing deals to sign up may not leave you fi­nan­cially bet­ter off. Grab­bing a copy of your lat­est en­ergy bill and com­par­ing what your sup­ply charges are is a good place to start, be­fore look­ing at what new cus­tomers are of­fered to see if they are get­ting a bet­ter rate. Money­tolove. com. au’s founder Heidi Arm­strong said if house­holds are find­ing it tough now, while in­ter­est rates are low, they should look at re­duc­ing spend on util­i­ties to “cre­ate buf­fers now to pre­pare for tougher times”.

“Shop­ping around online is a great start­ing point and a cou­ple of phone calls to com­peti­tors could help you save sig­nif­i­cant dol­lars and put you in a bet­ter po­si­tion to ne­go­ti­ate with your ex­ist­ing provider,’’ Ms Arm­strong said.

“Ask if there is an al­ter­na­tive plan that will help you save money. Be clear that you are look­ing at your op­tions and shop­ping around.”

Pic­ture: TOBY ZERNA

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