Whether it’s laziness or a little knowledge on the subject, the average Aussie isn’t that keen to switch and save on their energy bill - and it’s costing us big time. New research from the St Vincent de Paul Society found that collectively, households are missing out on an eye-watering $500 million in energy savings by not switching to a cheaper deal. In fact, households across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia are paying up to $200 extra for electricity, despite previous news of prices falling. "Wholesale prices have come down significantly and there's also been changes to poles and wires prices," manager of policy and research at St Vincent de Paul Society, Gavin Dufty told the ABC in a recent interview. "That's washed through the electricity market, but we're really concerned that people haven't gone out there and refreshed their electricity accounts so those savings end up in people's pockets and not the pockets of the big multinationals."Dufty explained that there are up to six million Australian households in those four states that are still on expensive contracts with their retailers. Most of these customers were previously on contracts, which have now expired. As a result, the retailer has rolled them onto a default offer, which generally tend to be on the pricier side. "When you start to get price falls, [retailers] don't quickly come back to you and say 'here's all these savings you can have', they like to let you sweat a little bit because that's more money for them,” said Dufty.
We’re sure you already know that having solar power as your electricity source is a great way to save on your energy bills. But given that solar panels can cost thousands, taking that first step can be daunting. If you’re thinking of making the switch to solar, we’re jotted down three ways you can cover the cost, plus their pros and cons.
Any Aussie household can understand the value of switching to solar for their electricity source, and thanks to a new South Australian program selected households will get to experience it for free. Under the new Switch to Solar pilot program, around 1,000 South Australian concession holders will receive a free solar system, replacing the Annual Energy or Cost of Living concession. Households who are recipients of these concessions are given up to a total of $226.67 and $215.10, respectively each year. Meanwhile, this program is set to deliver participants an annual saving of $890 on their energy bill, according to the Marshall Liberal Government.“Our new Switch to Solar pilot is a win-win for everyone,” said Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink. “Not only is the Government injecting money into the economy and supporting vital jobs through the purchase of 1000 new solar panels, our concession holders will get big bill savings off their energy bills.”The suburbs chosen for this pilot are:
South Australian households doing it tough might be finally getting some energy bill relief, thanks to a new deal negotiated by the Marshall Liberal Government. From 1 January 2021, SA Origin Energy customers who use the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer (SACEDO) will now receive a 21% discount off the electricity reference price, up slightly from 20% previously. According to the Government of South Australia website, customers who take advantage of this offer are set to save an average of $384 a year, depending on their electricity plan. At the moment, more than 64,000 low and fixed income SA households are currently taking up the offer, however the Government is encouraging more than 145,000 eligible households to sign up. “We know that this year has been tough on South Australians, which is why it’s welcome news we can continue to build on electricity savings which are flowing onto our households,” said Minister for Human Services, Michelle Lensik. “In addition to the huge discounts on bills, this special offer boasts a range of other benefits, such as no late payment fees, no exit fees, and flexible payment options - small features that make a big difference.”Aside from the SACEDO offer, SA customers can also apply for the State Government’s annual energy concession of up to $231.41 during the 2020-21 financial year. This means that the total energy bill savings for households could hit $615.41. In order to be eligible for the SACEDO 21% discount offer, customers must:
Almost every Aussie in lockdown last year braced themselves for a higher than normal energy bill. However new research from The Conversation has found that some households in particular fared worse than others. Older Australians who rely on the Age Pension as a source of income have been thrown into what’s called ‘energy poverty’, with many facing energy bills that were up to 50% higher than they were in 2019. In order to keep up with the high costs, many seniors resorted to cutting back on essential and non-essential spending, reduced the number of showers they took and even switched off the heater or air conditioner. This also meant that savings goals and other financial priorities were pushed aside to ensure their electricity bills were paid. “Even though I’m saving some money by not socialising, I can’t save money for potential emergencies as before. With the higher electricity bills and the new medical expenses, my capacity to save [has] reduced a lot,” an interviewee told The Conversation. But unfortunately, energy debt spread well beyond seniors during 2020. Figures from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) revealed that long-term electricity debt for residential customers jumped to $124.5 million between 31 March 2020 and 2 November 2020. During this period more than 60,000 Australians also chose to defer their energy bills, allowing themselves some time to get back on their feet.
As more households embrace renewable energy, new figures have revealed that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are being installed at record numbers across the country. According to the ACT Government’s 2019/20 annual feed-in tariff report, there are more than 28,000 solar generators in the Territory, an increase of more than 17% during the previous financial year. What’s more impressive is that rooftop solar within the ACT has produced more than 135 megawatts during the 2019/20 financial year. Plus, more than 47,000 MWh came from over 10,000 solar PVs that were provided by the ACT Government’s Feed-In Tariff (FiT) scheme, an incentive from 2009 that was designed to boost solar uptake and reduce solar system prices altogether. “It’s great to see incentives like these are giving the average household the opportunity to generate their own electricity and save on their energy bills,” said Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont.
With a sudden strict four month lockdown it’s safe to say Victorians haven’t had an easy 2020. But with the Essential Services Commission (ESC) announcing its final energy prices determination for 2021, the new year may already be off to a better start. The ESC has announced that the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) will fall by 10% for residential customers and 14% for small businesses customers. That equates to a bill reduction of $159 per year and $916 a year, respectively.As a quick recap, the VDO, which came into effect 1 July 2019, is a default energy offer available to all customers in Victoria who choose to not engage in the energy market - that is, comparing offers and switching plans. The VDO also replaced standing offers and capped prices, preventing retailers from charging expensive plans to customers on these offers. “The fall in the default offer is being mainly driven by lower wholesale electricity purchase costs, with lower prices likely to assist many Victorian households and small businesses in recovering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Essential Services Commission pricing director, Marcus Crudden.The state’s economic regulator estimates that these price reductions will provide some much needed bill relief to around 125,000 households and 40,000 small businesses.
From rates to tariffs and random fees, it’s no wonder energy bills have a reputation of being difficult to comprehend. Unfortunately, it often means many Aussies pick up a few myths on the way to understanding their energy bill. So, if one of your goals in the new year is to get on top of your personal finance, we’ve jotted down four energy bill myths to be aware of.
With less than three weeks to go until we welcome in the new year, many Aussies may have already begun thinking about the goals they want to achieve in 2021. And for some, that can mean giving their home an energy efficiency upgrade. According to CSIRO building simulation research lead, Anthony Wright, the average Aussie household is rated only 2.2 stars out of 10 for energy efficiency. However, if the average Sydney or Melbourne home were to bump that figure up to a 4.9 stars, they could save up to $480 a year on their energy bills.When it comes to improving energy efficiency around the house, you might be surprised to learn that substantial savings can be made just by making small improvements. For instance, draught sealing and filling gaps or cracks around windows and doors are a great place to start. Other options include updating energy guzzling appliances for energy saving ones or installing external blinds to block out heat. But for the Aussies who don’t mind taking things to the next level, upgrading hot water systems, air conditioning and other appliances could deliver annual savings of $900, says Wright. “It’s also worthwhile getting an energy rate involved early,” Wright said in a recent interview with The New Daily. “It can seem like it costs, but it will pay back in comfort and energy bill savings in spades over time, as they can do a before-and-after rating, and also provide consultation on tweaking your renovation as you go.”
When Australia officially entered lockdown in March, thousands of people and small businesses were left stranded with a reduced income or forced to shut down, struggling to keep up with regular expenses, like their energy bill. And according to the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Annual Retail Markets Report, those households and small businesses still remain in ‘energy debt’ to their retailers. The report found a sharp increase in energy debt amongst small businesses, with the total jumping from $35 million in March 2020 to $45 million in June 2020. For residential customers, long-term electricity debt reportedly increased by 21% between 31 March and 2 November to $124.5 million. Almost 60,000 households also took advantage of their retailers' offer to defer energy bills for a time, providing some breathing room. “If you are struggling to pay your bills, talk to your retailer about your debt – even if you can’t afford to pay anything right now,” said AER chair, Clare Savage. “You won’t be disconnected, and your retailer will work with you to set up a plan and help you start paying off your debt.”And it looks like most Aussies were satisfied with their retailer’s support, as there were 29% fewer complaints made to retailers and 26% fewer complaints to the ombudsman since the 2018/19 financial year.