With weather forecasters predicting that the apocalyptic heatwaves may be here to stay through summer and with surprising new data just released on household energy spends, leading energy comparison website comparethemarket.com.au cautions that Australians need to be more mindful of their energy usage and energy plans to avoid bill shock.
“With health insurance premiums increasing from April, petrol prices at an all-time high in January, and now temperatures soaring, the bills flooding households won’t be good news for mums and dads in the coming months,” Grant Waldeck, spokesperson at comparethemarket.com.au, says. “Worryingly, evidence suggests that many consumers don’t know how much energy they are using and that cheaper energy prices are available. These are the households who will likely experience bill shock this summer.”
Grant says ensuring you’re on the right energy plan is a first step to taking control of your energy costs. “Simply reviewing your energy plan and switching to the best one for you can potentially save you hundreds over the year. Unfortunately, many Australians think that switching their energy provider is difficult and that their supply may be affected. In reality, changing provider is easy, you will receive the same electricity and gas from the same supply without disconnection and only your billing provider will change over.”
While some households switch to gas (at least partially) to save on energy costs, surprisingly newly released ABS stats show that electricity-only households spent the least on energy – at $29 per week. In comparison, Australian households utilising multiple sources of energy such as electricity, mains gas, and LPG/bottled gas spent an average of $54 per week on energy.
“It’s common knowledge that gas is a more affordable energy source. That this research reveals the opposite could be attributed to many factors, including the increasing use of solar energy in households connected to electricity. But also that those with a gas connection – knowing they are utilising a more affordable source – might be less cautious about their energy usage,” he says.
Grant advises that it’s cooling and heating appliances that households need to keep an eye on. “Appliances such as air-conditioners, driers, hot-water systems and kettles tend to utilise the most energy around the home. Consider how your usage of these will play out in your bills.”
Comparethemarket.com.au gives 10 tips to help you take control of your household energy costs quickly – and without moderations to your home:
- Review your energy provider. Do your bills send you into a panic, and yet the thought of switching suppliers seems a headache? The good news is most households can save by auditing bills and switching suppliers – and it can be done easily online.
- Switch to monthly billing. Some suppliers will allow you to do this upon request. This will help you better monitor your month-on-month energy usage and will prevent you facing a costly lump sum quarterly bill.
- Ask for an extension. If you do get bill shock, call your energy provider for an extension on your payment, or ask to pay by instalments. In many cases, you’ll be able to.
- Cover windows. Closing doors and windows on hot days, and covering window glass will help keep your home cooler. Sunlight can warm a room quickly, making air-conditioning necessary.
- Set air-conditioning to a warmer temperature. A cool 22?C might be an ideal air-conditioning temperature during summer, but energy can be saved by increasing it just a little. Fans use less energy than air conditioning, and are a good alternative. Even better, if you have a well-ventilated home, opening opposing windows and doors outside of the hottest times of day may create a welcome breeze.
- Watch your hot water. Use the shortest – or economy – cycles, and wash only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine. Use your washing machine on cold water cycle and reduce showering time.
- Line-dry your washing. Summer temperatures dry washing very quickly, even on overcast days.
- Get smarter with your lighting. Ensure every light bulb in your home is an energy-saving model. Consider using lamps – they use less energy than ceiling lights.
- Switch off appliances at the wall. Appliances still utilise energy in standby mode or when the wall switch is on.
- Watch your pool pumps. Pool pumps use plenty of energy – only run them for as long as you need to.