Home energy bills are inescapable. If you find yourself in a bit of a bind, you can still tackle them with confidence.
Home energy bills spark debate
Paying home energy bills is an inevitable part of adulthood. We understand that sometimes it all becomes too much. Do you find yourself scrambling to find funds every quarter? Do you find yourself making concessions just to keep the car on the road?
Power provides access to comfort and is fundamental for our 21st century existence. Electricity keeps food from spoiling. It keeps the family comfortable and safe from weather and darkness. It also keeps us connected to our jobs, to our friends and to the world. Energy is an absolute necessity. But it is expensive.
Home energy bills, in particular, are a hot topic in the news at the moment. They potentially are to rise by up to $78 a year next year thanks the closure of the elderly Hazelwood power station in Victoria. Australia already has a faulty and outdated energy system. Costs to repair the crumbling infrastructure are the defining reason behind the price hikes.
Furthermore, federal and state energy ministers have vowed to tackle the inherent price increases in the energy sector. As rates increase and renewable energy begins to come online and compete with traditional energy sources the price of electricity becomes higher, the trend will only continue. However, the problem with the ministers’ vow is that they have only agreed to address the issue. They have not agreed on how.
Non-renewable energy is simply unsustainable. However, the federal government seems unlikely to focus on renewable alternatives any time soon because of the traditional reliance on the economic benefits of fossil fuels. It is clear that the coming shakeups will have significant consequences for Australian households in the coming years.
How to deal with steep home energy bills
It is a concerning time for struggling Australian families because an increase of up to $150 a year in home energy bills is going to make it tighter in all the needs that compete for your dollar. If you think you will find yourself tightening your belt to keep the lights on, have a read of our tips for navigating expensive home energy bills in the coming years.
Find out about your concessions
The Queensland government can offer a helping hand for people not able to afford the whole bill. Because energy is a necessity, if you need assistance and you meet eligibility criteria, the government can help.
Reach out to your provider
The energy sector is incredibly competitive and that is a plus for the consumer. You are entitled to ask for a better deal on your power. If you feel like you are not getting the best deal, shop around for something that suits your budget. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, contact your provider as soon as you can.
Seek out the hardship team
Fortunately, not all energy providers are faceless entities that want to separate you from your money. Many providers have special hardship teams dedicated to assisting customers suffering financial hardship. These teams will also treat every person on a case-by-case basis to find a solution to your hardship. There is no shame in asking for help.
Ask for a payment plan
Your energy provider must offer you a payment plan to tackle the bill in installments. Make sure you know how much you can afford weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Don’t make yourself struggle for longer. Pay back what you can, when you can.
Review your payment arrangements
Paying by credit or debit card can be an expensive exercise if continued over time. Ask your provider if monthly billing is possible. Make sure you leave enough money in your bank account if you have signed for a direct debit or Centrepay deduction. Your bank account can incur hefty fees if you have not left enough money in it. You can also check with your bank for a fee-free bank account and then put aside and deposit into it, a set sum of money every pay to cover that payment and any other regulars.
You may be entitled for The Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) provided by the Queensland government. If you are unable to pay your gas or power bill due to unforeseen circumstances or a short-term financial crisis, you can investigate this option. You retailer will also have documents you can fill out to apply.
If you have been unfairly treated, you are entitled to find legal recourse. If you are unable to resolve a disputed bill with your provider or encounter difficulties, you also have the right to complain. The Energy and Water Ombudsman investigates and actions consumer complaints.
Before your next bill…
Furthermore, you need to be prepared before your next quarterly or monthly bill. To form a budget and factor in all of your bills and expenses, talk to a free financial counsellor. Financial Counselling Australia also has a myriad of resources to help you get on top of things.
Reduce your energy use
Read our article on how to reduce your power bill for next quarter, room by room. Your energy provider will also provide this information. You can even ask for an energy audit to find out just how much power you are wasting every day.
Upgrade your appliances
If you have dated fridges, dryers, washing machines or dishwashers, you may be leaking power. Older appliances tend to be sieves for electricity. They are manufactured to outdated specifications and are often faulty. This is where accessing community finance from Foresters can help.
How Foresters can help
Finally, at Foresters Community Finance, as a not-for-profit community provider, we are in the business of assisting you and your family. As well as informing you, we want to help you get on top of your necessary expenses. We have a number of ways of doing this. A popular way is a *No Interest Loans (NILS) are a popular method to increase your home’s energy efficiency. With *no interest or fees, this loan can give you the new fridge you need to cut your power bill down. Furthermore, even if you are ineligible for *NILS, you can still get that new fridge or even an entirely new kitchen or living room can be refreshed! We offer a number of different *Community Loans to be as flexible for you.
Take back control of your energy account from outdated energy hungry appliances with a Foresters Community Finance loan.
*Eligibility criteria applies.
– Rory Callaghan