If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and investing in a solar panel system, you might have been holding out for the perfect time to get started. With spring well and truly here, it won’t take long for things to start heating up and for our air conditioners to get a serious workout. It might surprise you to know that spring is one of the best times of the year to install solar panels, as it can help us prepare for the hottest time of the year. Still need some convincing? Check out our top four reasons below!
Covid-19 has seen many Aussie households experience financial stress like never before, but with the help of a new innovative platform many are getting the support they need. It’s called Deferit, a bill payment platform that helps people pay their bills on time and avoid any late payment fees or stress. Aussies who are struggling to pay their energy bills on time can sign up to the platform, upload their bill and Deferit will pay the bill immediately on the customer’s behalf. The customer will then have to pay the cost back in four equal installments. Deferit works just like Netflix, where users are only charged a monthly fee of $5.99 when they use the service. There’s no interest or any other fees charged during the process and, according to Defetit, there is no comparable product on the Australian market.
Whether it’s to save on expenses or to have some company, having a roommate is one of the most common ways to live across the country. But sometimes different routines and habits can clash, even when it comes to energy consumption or conservation. According to new research by Origin Energy, 63% of Aussies who live in shared accommodation believe they could be doing more to reduce their energy consumption. Aussies living with their partner were reportedly more mindful of their energy use, with 84% noting cost as their main motivator for wanting to cut down on their energy use. However, despite the good intentions, 29% felt that their housemates aren’t good at conserving their energy use and are using it excessively. “Having a roommate can teach us how to have difficult conversations, from splitting bills to sharing space. So if you’re looking to save on your energy bill and feel as though your roommate could be doing better with their usage, it might be time to sit down and have an honest chat,” said Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont. “Getting on the same page could involve brainstorming areas where you can cut back, like the laundry or heating.”
Yesterday, the Queensland government announced it would be introducing a $50 electricity bill credit for households, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The $50 credit will be added onto a customer’s next electricity bill and is expected to reach two million Queensland homeowners, tenants and customers who receive an electricity bill from their landlord. Queensland Energy Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham has also confirmed that another $50 credit will be distributed in 2021.According to Lyhnam, the government’s ability to provide these credits is a result of the dividends from publicly-owned power assets. “Queensland has the energy trifecta: lowest average prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned transition to a renewable future,” he said.“Unlike other states, the dividends from our publicly-owned companies flow not to multinational shareholders overseas, but to Queensland families across the state.”This power bill relief package is the second to come out due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the QLD government announced it would be releasing a $300 million relief package, providing utility bill credits of up to $200 to households.
Driving around in an electric vehicle (EV) might seem like a long shot for many Aussies because of the pricetag. But thanks to a brand new service from AGL, taking an EV out for a spin has just become a bit more feasible. The energy giant will today be piloting its AGL Next Electric Vehicle Subscription Service. AGL Next is the retailer's new initiative for test driving new programs, technology and partnerships for energy and more. In order to provide the EV Subscription Service, AGL has partnered with car subscription service, Carbar and EV charging supplier, JET Charge. According to AGL, this service is the first of its kind to be offered in Australia. “The market for EVs in Australia is continuing to grow but we know many customers may still be reluctant to buy an EV outright due to price, concerns about technological change or access to charging facilities,” said AGL executive general manager Future Business & Technology, John Chambers.“AGL’s EV Subscription Service eliminates these concerns allowing customers to access the latest technology as it hits the market.”Those who are eligible for the EV Subscription Service will have access to a range of leading EV brands, such as Tesla, Jaguar, Hyundai and Nissan. “It’s a convenient option, with the latest EV model delivered to the customer’s home and at-home charging facilities installed but with the flexibility to swap, upgrade or cancel the service at any time.“We know customers are becoming more attuned with subscription services which provide all the benefits but none of the hassle - this is the Netflix of electric vehicles.”
And since the nation is spending more time indoors, experimenting with different pastimes and hobbies has become the norm. But according to new research by Origin Energy, some households are interested in doing more than just hunting down a new Netflix series. In fact, they’re looking to slash their energy bill and be rewarded for it with a concept called ‘demand management’. Origin found that 76% of Aussies are willing to adjust the temperature on their heating or cooling appliances to receive financial incentives or rewards. More than half (58%) would be okay with their energy provider contacting them via text to encourage them to adjust temperature settings. In short, demand management is a concept that asks energy users to reduce their consumption entirely during hours when electricity demand is at its highest in exchange for an incentive, such as a gift card or credit on your annual bill. Demand management has grown in popularity over the year, both among retailers and regulatory bodies, as it has the potential to benefit both energy customers and the industry. “Demand management helps to reduce strain on the network when the balance between supply and demand can be tight, and also assist with the transition towards a cleaner, smarter energy system in Australia,” said Origin executive general manager retail, Jon Briskin. “While customers will be rewarded for shifting their energy use, the broader network will also benefit as we can help reduce demand, and support grid stability during peak periods.
What would it take for you to switch up your energy habits? How does $250 worth of rewards sound? That’s right, Origin Energy customers now have the chance to earn gift cards or Paypal cash, as part of a new online program called Spike, simply by reducing their energy consumption during peak demand periods. “Origin Spike is the first program of its kind in the Australian energy market - it’s a simple and fun way for customers to get some extra cash in their pocket as a reward for making small changes to their energy use,” said Origin executive general manager retail, Jon Briskin. Some of the ways Origin customers can participate in the program include adjusting their air conditioner temperature by a few degrees for an hour, or delaying the use of certain appliances, like the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher. Participants who regularly reduce their electricity consumption by 60% during ‘Spike hours’ have the potential to earn $250 worth of rewards annually. And according to Briskin, the Spike initiative does more than just treat customers for ditching old habits. “While customers will be rewarded for shifting their energy use, the broader network will also benefit as we can help reduce demand, and support grid stability during peak periods,” he said. Just keep in mind that Origin customers will need to have a remote-read smart meter in order to participate in the Sprike program.
With Victorians in lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, small businesses may once again be left feeling vulnerable. To help, the Essential Services Commission (ESC) has announced it would be introducing a new mandatory guideline that asks retailers to provide assistance to small businesses experiencing financial stress. The guideline is expected to come into effect on 1 October 2020 for six months, however may be extended should it be necessary. “While Victoria already has the most comprehensive safety net for residential customers in the country, we have added additional protections for customers who are behind on payments,” said Commission chair, Kate Symons.“There’s a new requirement for retailers to provide practical, hands on help to customers to apply for utility relief grants as well as expanding a requirement to offer price checks for anyone who has fallen behind on their energy bills.” And while there was no set definition of ‘financial stress’ in the ECS’s guideline document, retailers still have a range of relief assistance options they must extend to small businesses. Some of the assistance retailers must provide small businesses at a minimum include:
Although many Aussies believe life will never return to the way it once was, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is using it as an opportunity to give the energy market a refresh. On Wednesday, ACCC chair Rod Sims said that Australia has hit a “tipping point” for energy affordability. Speaking at the Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) 2020 National Conference, Sims said there’s “an opportunity to reset affordability and competition in energy markets” for large energy users like businesses. “This dreadful pandemic we are all experiencing has caused significant personal hardship to many Australians as well as enormous economic disruption for businesses, small and large,” he said. The regulatory body explained that commercial and industry users have had their electricity bills skyrocket by 61% between the 2007/08 and 2018/19 financial year. For large energy users, wholesale electricity prices make up to 53% of their annual bill, compared to one-third for residential users. So with the good news that wholesale electricity and gas prices are their lowest point in five years, businesses will have the chance to come out on top within the following year. In early June, Mozo reported on the new energy reform called the wholesale demand response, which is set to come into effect in October 2021. Under the wholesale demand response, larger energy users like businesses choose to reduce their electricity consumption during peak periods and in return, will receive an incentive, such as a credit toward their annual bill. According to Sims, this new mechanism will do more than just give Aussies businesses a leg up. The wholesale demand response is also expected to reduce costs and increase competition. “The reduction in wholesale prices is positive and, together with large energy users continuing to be active participants in both the energy market and non-energy mechanisms, this is the opportunity to restore Australian businesses’ international competitiveness,” said Sims. If your small business is still up and running during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your energy costs. You can check out our small business energy savings tips page for more information.Or if you’d like to make the switch to a better deal, head on over to our energy comparison tool get started.
Although our electricity usage may have skyrocketed during the Covid-19 lockdown, different strands of research have shown that wholesale electricity prices are on the decline. More recently, industry researcher IBISWorld found that because wholesale prices have dropped to their lowest in five years, the success of coal-fired power stations has dropped, while investment in renewable generators is on the up. “The closure of businesses across the economy has contributed to a sharp downturn in electricity demand from commercial markets,” said IBISWorld senior industry analyst, James Caldwell. “At the same time, growth in the number of Australians working and studying from home has contributed to a strong upswing in electricity demand from residential customers.” According to Caldwell, electricity demand is estimated to have fallen by 4% during the 2019/20 financial year - 2% of that figure can be attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak and the remaining 2% is due to an increased uptake in small-scale solar systems. IBISWorld also predicts that households could see a difference in their annual bill, as the drop in wholesale prices will bring on a 15% decline in revenue for the electricity market.