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