When the cold sets in, heating your home to stay warm becomes a no brainer, but at what cost? iSelect spokeswoman, Laura Crowden, says there are some new energy changes afoot, which could save you money.
The winter energy bill is often the highest
For a mum of young children, the arrival of winter can be particularly depressing. The colder, wetter weather means you have no option but to spend more time indoors, putting your children at risk of going stir-crazy.
Of course, spending more time inside means using more energy. The heater is cranked up, you give in and let the kids watch more TV, and the dryer is constantly whirring away trying to dry all those clothes you got wet at the park. And using more energy means, you guessed it, higher energy bills. Unfortunately, for most Aussie families, their winter energy bill is often the most expensive for the year, which is almost as depressing as the weather. But there might be some relief in sight.
Energy bills are changing from 1 July
The first thing you need to know is that there’s a shake-up happening to energy bills this winter, which should make them cheaper for some customers and less confusing for everyone.
On 1 July 2019, new default energy offers will be rolled out in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and South-East Queensland. These new default offers will replace higher-priced standing offers that around 10 percent of customers are currently on.
If your family has been with the same plan or provider for more than a few years, then you are most likely on a standing offer and will be automatically moved across to the new default offer on July 1.
This should result in your energy bill decreasing – it varies state-by-state, but New South Wales customers on standing offers should save around $180, and in Victoria, it could be as much as $450.
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This is definitely good news for the 10 percent (approximately) of us currently on standing offers.
But what about the rest of us?
Unfortunately, the majority of customers in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and South-East Queensland won’t see their bills automatically decrease on 1 July because they are already on discounted market offers. These customers have gotten a better deal by shopping around in the past. And if you want a better deal, you’ll need to be prepared to do it again to make sure you aren’t paying more than you need.
Thankfully, shopping around is going to be a little easier too. That’s because the new default offer will also be a ‘benchmark’ that all discounted offers will be compared to, making it easier to understand which plans provide better value.
Goodbye, confusing discounts
In recent years, energy retailers have advertised massive discounts, but often the discount is just off your usage and not supply charges (which as mentioned can be a significant portion of your bill). And until now, most of these discounts have often been conditional, meaning you need to meet specific criteria such as paying early or on time to get your discount.
We’re starting to see energy retailers offer discounts off both usage and supply charges, and replace large conditional discounts with lower ongoing rates. For many customers, these are likely to offer better value in the long-term.
Don’t pay the lazy tax
Most energy discounts expire after a year or two, at which time, you’ll most likely be rolled over onto a higher priced plan. Retailers are now required to notify you when your discount period expires, and this should be your prompt to compare energy plans. Too often, we put it off and end up being rewarded for our loyalty (or laziness) with a higher priced plan.
I get that most mums don’t have time to wash their hair as often as they’d like (thank you, dry shampoo!) let alone spend time comparing energy providers. That’s where an energy comparison service like iSelect can do the hard work for you. In 15-20 minutes they can compare your options from their range of available providers, and if they can find you a better deal, they can sign you up all in one simple phone call.
Now if only finding that missing mitten was so easy.