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Sponsored post written by Sophie Ryan, iSelect Spokesperson    

Beautiful beaches, warmer weather, and new adventures galore! Sure, a move to Australia comes with plenty of benefits, but unfortunately cost-of-living pressures have also become a thorn in the side for many Aussie households over the past few years.

A recent survey commissioned by comparison service, iSelect, revealed that most respondents (78 per cent) are worried about higher power bills in 2023, with 30 per cent saying they’re ‘extremely worried’.[1]

Is this really a surprise? Perhaps not… especially when major Australian energy retailers have just recently increased average rates for residents on variable electricity market contracts or will soon in September. In some instances, average annual household bills could go up by as much as $565![2]

The i-Link Research study also found that spending cutbacks are on the agenda for most folks to help pay for winter energy bills, with takeaway food and drink (including coffee) the number one expense to go for those surveyed who will make cutbacks (or are considering it).1

It’s not all doom and gloom though!  We know household budgets are under the pump and energy prices may be higher across the board, but if you follow a few simple steps before winter ends, you could put some extra money back in your pocket to put towards your favourite takeaway coffee.

1 Don’t set & forget

Somenoe switching on a light switch

Fresh off the plane, and still settling into your new Aussie life? We understand you may be looking for an energy provider/plan for the first time. With this in mind, you may not realise that a no-lock-in energy deal (which most Australian retailers now offer) gives you the freedom to shop around and switch your provider/plan whenever you like. Yes, it’s true!

Don’t fall into the ‘set and forget’ trap, as this can end up costing you in the long run!  For example, customers who stay with the same energy provider could end up paying what we call the ‘loyalty tax’ because some energy retailers may increase rates for existing customers more than/above the rates available to new customers. Also, most energy plans – particularly those featuring discounts – generally expire after a year or two. So, if you sign up and stick with the same plan for several years, it’s possible you could automatically be transferred onto a higher-priced plan and might be paying more than you need to.  

2 Don’t automatically default to the default

You may be unfamiliar with what a Default Market Offer (or the Victorian Default Offer) is. To put it simply, it’s a price set by the Australian Energy Regulator (or Victorian Essential Services Commission) as the maximum retailers can charge customers for electricity if they live in New South Wales, South East Queensland, Victoria or South Australia.

iSelect General Manager – Utilities & Credit Cards, Julia Paszka, explained that the default offer recently increased on July 1.

“Regardless of whether you’re on a default or market offer, if your rate just increased, or will soon, you’ve got no time to waste. We’d encourage you to review your current plan now because it may not be too late to find a better deal and see if you can save money,” Julia said.

“Don’t automatically default to the default, as it may not be the best value option for you.  Instead, take the time to compare the default to available market offers.”

3 Consider flexible payment options and look out for special offers

To help you avoid bill shock, which can typically come during times of high energy use (such as winter or summer), consider paying your bills weekly, fortnightly or monthly, or sign up for bill smoothing, which can divide your annual usage into smaller, evenly spread instalments.

Did you know that some retailers may even offer you a better deal if you pay on time, manage your bills online or pay by direct debit? Keep an eye out for these offers but be aware that some may expire after a year or two.  

Remember too that Aussie energy providers are required to offer assistance to those customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Customers who are in financial stress can request a payment plan or hardship arrangement with their energy provider.

4 Shop around

Retailers are required to notify you when your rate changes or any discount your plan may include expires. This should prompt you to compare other plans in the market to ensure you’re getting a competitive deal, and with a no-lock-in contract, you have that freedom to switch whenever you like!

Let’s be honest… In the current environment, every dollar counts. So, whether you’re looking to sign up for an Aussie energy plan for the first time, or looking to compare your current deal against a range of other plans and providers, call an energy comparison service like iSelect* and make sure you have a copy of your latest bill handy and we can help you out!

*iSelect does not compare all energy providers or plans in the market. The availability of plans may change from time to time, depending on who iSelect’s providers are and what plans they make available to iSelect. Not all plans made available from iSelect providers may be compared by iSelect either due to commercial arrangements, area or availability, so not all plans or providers compared by iSelect will be available to all customers. Some plans and special offers are available only from iSelect’s contact centre or website. Energy plans are available only for properties located in eligible areas of Victoria, New South Wales, South East Queensland, South Australia and ACT. Click here to view iSelect’s range of providers.    

[1]iSelect commissioned i-Link Research to conduct a national online survey between 28 April and 3 May 2023. The sample is n=1,000 Australians 18+ years, with data weighted to represent the population by age, state and gender, and is representative of all Australian adults 18+ 

[2]Source: EnergyAustralia announces electricity and gas price increases for residential and small business customers | EnergyAustralia & AGL, Origin announce upcoming energy price rises for households, small businesses – ABC News