Covid-19 continues to create ‘energy poverty’ for older Australians
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.
Available rebates and energy bill payment help
For older Aussies who believe they are spending too much on their energy bills, there is a way to reduce costs.
Energy rebates are available across the country, regardless of whether you live in New South Wales or Tasmania.
Some rebates a household may be eligible for include:
- The Seniors Energy Rebate (NSW)
- The Medical Heating and Cooling Concession (SA)
- The Annual Electricity Concession (VIC and TAS)
Depending on which rebate you apply for, you could receive a discount on your annual energy bill of between $100 to $300. If you are struggling to keep up with your energy bill, there is help available through applying for financial assistance. You’ll first need to get in touch with your energy retailer to inform them of the situation. From there, they’ll be able to work with you to establish an appropriate payment plan to help get you back on track.
To learn more about the energy rebates that are available in your state by heading over to our energy guides section.
Or if you’d like to compare energy plans in your area, have a play with our energy comparison tool below.