ENERGY SAVINGS GUIDE: 5yr Price Low - My 10/15 Rule of Thumb - 3-Step Winter Bill Checklist - Full list of Energy Concessions - The Golden Rule if you can't pay
NEWS: WHOLESALE PRICES HIT 5YR LOW
Wholesale energy prices have dropped to their lowest level in 5 years. But many of us are receiving recrd-high winter bills right now. Why?
Two reasons: firstly our usage has skyrocketed thanks to COVID-19, and secondly not all retailers have passed on the savings. The Federal Energy Minister has called on retailers to do so, but he’s not yet forcing them to. Translation: you might need to switch to see the savings.
Normally, I recommend you check your plan once a year, but these falling wholesale prices have made energy bills a ‘moving target’, meaning that EVEN IF YOU SWITCHED IN JUNE, there are now cheaper deals to be had. (Sorry! I know it's infuriating...)
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🥶 WINTER ENERGY CHECKLIST: EASY AS 1, 2, 3 😅
The weather keeps getting colder and the warnings are becoming more dire: the CEO of Tango Energy now says households are ALREADY using 40% more power than usual.
What a shocker! Tango Energy CEO says energy bills already up 40% - how bad will winter be? That's why we're calling for energy bills to be 100% tax-deductible during #covid19_australia https://t.co/7BYWLkramF— One Big Switch (@OneBigSwitchAU) May 21, 2020
But avoiding a record-high Winter Energy Bill doesn’t have to be difficult or take hours of your time.
Here are the 3 simple things most households can try RIGHT NOW to avoid big winter power bills:
1. Get on a cheap-as-chips plan ASAP.
The key is to make sure you’re paying bottom dollar EVERY time you switch on the lights or the heater.
Once you find a good deal, you can switch over in minutes if you’re in NSW, VIC, SA, SEQLD or ACT and it could save you hundreds of dollars.
2. Get the basics right.
The big energy-guzzlers are heating & cooling, pool pumps, hot water services and clothes dryers. Heating alone can make up one-third of your bill, for example, so target those things to save up to $800 a year on your power bills.
✅ Set your thermostat at 18-20 degrees celsius when heating your home and ONLY turn it up higher if necessary. Every extra degree can add 10% to your bill!
✅ Use the clothesline whenever possible now that you’re always home, instead of the dryer.
✅ If you have off peak rates on your plan, do as much of your washing at those times as possible.
✅ Turn off the beer fridge! If you have an old, half-full, inefficient fridge in the garage, it could be costing you as much as $250 a year to run - and parties are still banned!
✅ Turn off some powerpoints when not in use (this so-called ‘vampire power’ has been making up a huge 16% of my own electricity bill according to the report below, so it can add up!)
3. Claim as much as possible on tax if you’re working from home:
It’s always been possible to claim some of your Energy Bill if working from home, according to the ‘52c method’ or the 'apportioned costs' method, which both divvy out some of your bills to work deductions.
Now, there’s a much simpler ‘Shortcut Method’ for the COVID-19 period, UNTIL JUNE 30, where you just claim 80c for every hour you work from home and that covers ALL relevant bills: energy, telco, furniture, hardware etc
It’s up to you to work out which method to use to maximise your deductions. It will depend on your circumstances and whether you have a tax agent, but make sure you at least claim the 'shortcut' expenses.
🆓 UPDATED: STATE-BY-STATE RUNDOWN OF CURRENT ENERGY BILL RELIEF 🆓
If you’ve got a relevant concession card (or in some cases a relevant Centrelink payment or income level) OR you're experiencing a financial emergency due to COVID-19, there are potentially thousands of dollars in energy bill relief payments available to you in some states.
Here’s a full list UPDATED to make sure you’re not missing out on any entitlements.
🚨 WARNING: THIS COULD BE THE WORST WINTER IN RECENT MEMORY FOR ENERGY BILLS 🚨
We’re banging on about this year’s Winter Energy Bills quite a bit at the moment. But it’s for good reason: Australians cannot afford record-high energy bills this year of all years.
To illustrate why we’re so concerned, I’ve put together this little presentation, complete with graphs and all.
GRAPH #1: Aussie Power Prices, Past 40 Years
This graph shows what has happened to our electricity prices over the past four decades, and why we now have some of the highest prices in the world.
Notice how electricity is now SEVEN TIMES as expensive as it was in 1980? It’s also DOUBLED in price over the past decade - much more than our wages have increased.
GRAPH #2: Typical Daily Household Usage
Source: CSIRO, 2013
This is a graph of how a household’s usage goes up and down during a typical day in each of the four seasons, collected by the CSIRO.
Notice how much bigger the usage is in winter? Now imagine that family is home ALL DAY, working and schooling at home, so the graph doesn’t dip down in the middle. And replicate that same effect for Gas bills.
Combine that with our sky-high Australian power prices (GRAPH #1) and you’ll see why there’s a time bomb that is set to go off in Australian household budgets this Winter.
That’s why we keep banging on about it. And here’s what you can do about it:
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🆘 RELIEF & HARDSHIP PROGRAMS 🆘
Energy retailers have mostly agreed to a list of 10 key principles created by the industry regulator, including:
- Restrictions on disconnections of residential and small business customers until AT LEAST the end of July, but preferably the end of October.
- No debt collection referrals until at least the end of July, but preferably October, and
- Payment plans to be made available to all struggling residential and small business customers, including those who don’t meet the usual criteria.
You’re lucky - Energex and Ergon are still government-owned, they have promised no disconnections during the crisis, and the state government will also send households an extra $200 payment towards power bills.
For households experiencing a short-term financial crisis, there's also the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (up to $720). See details under 'concessions and rebates' above.
Households in financial distress or emergency can now access up to $1600 a year in $50 vouchers to go towards paying energy bills, from the state government.
To apply for the EAPA scheme, you must:
- Already be on your energy retailer’s hardship scheme
- Be experiencing a short-term financial crisis or emergency
Independent retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card are being reminded they can also apply for a $200 Seniors Energy Rebate in NSW.
A new scheme called 'Household Relief Loans Without Interest' has been developed by Good Shepherd, NAB and the Federal Government. It offers zero-interest loans up to $3000 to help with rent and utilities during COVID-19, which can be repaid over two years.
What have the Big 3 Retailers said?
Origin has said no disconnections due to financial stress until at least 31 July 2020; No default listing for any customer who is having trouble paying; and a pause to all late payment fees effective immediately.
Call 13 24 61 for help or apply online or through the app.
We’ve announced new measures to support customers affected by COVID-19, including suspending disconnections for any customers and small businesses having problems paying their bills until 31 July 2020 at the earliest and pausing late payment fees. More: https://t.co/7xrJLy8sVb— Origin (@originenergy) March 27, 2020
AGL is offering fast-tracked access to a program allowing deferred payments until 31 July 2020, or access to a payment plan that allows you to pay in instalments; plus no disconnections during the deferred payment period.
Call 131 245 for help or apply online here or through the app.
Today our CEO Brett Redman announced a #COVID19 Customer Support Program. Read more in our media release.— AGL Energy (@aglenergy) March 27, 2020
EnergyAustralia has not yet said they will stop disconnections and debt collection until 31 July. They're pushing an expansion of their standard Hardship program.
Call 133 466 for help or apply online for the Hardship program called ‘EnergyAssist’, which means no debt collection and no disconnection, plus help with government rebates and concessions and energy saving tips.
The COVID-19 situation is unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced before. We know some customers are doing it tough and we support the @aergovau call for a whole of industry response to help households and businesses get through this challenging time. (1/5)— EnergyAustralia (@EnergyAustralia) March 28, 2020
Check in regularly for the latest updates. As the money-saving experts, we’re working hard to give our million-plus members all the info you need to come through these tough times in good financial shape.
Any information is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs. One Big Switch earns a fee for each customer that takes up the Origin offer.