For many Queensland households, the first electricity bill of the year can come as a shock.
Electricity bills are often higher over summer as many of us use air conditioning in the hotter weather, have family and friends staying over, and children are home from school over the holidays.
Energy saving tips
The first step to avoid bill shock is to try to reduce energy usage where you can. QCOSS’ energy saving tips factsheet offers some simple tips to help reduce the size of your electricity bill.
Generally the three appliances which use the most energy are air-conditioners, hot water systems and fridges.
To save energy while keeping cool set your air-conditioner between 24C and 26C. Every degree below this adds 10 per cent to your cooling costs. And use ceiling or pedestal fans where possible.
Reduce your water heating costs by using cold water for rinsing dishes and washing your clothes, reducing shower times and installing a low-flow shower head. It also pays to regularly check your hot water system for faults such as visible leaks around the storage unit.
Get rid of your second fridge or only turn it on when you need. Check your fridge door seals to make sure your fridge is not leaking cold air and costing you more to run. Put a piece of paper between the seal and the door before closing it. If the paper slides out easily the door seals may need replacing.
Read QCOSS’ energy saving tips factsheet for more tips.
To find out more about which appliances can really drive up your bills visit the Ergon Energy website.
What to do if you can’t pay an energy bill
If you are having difficulties paying your electricity bills, help is available. Contact your electricity retailer as soon as possible. Many retailers have specially trained staff who can provide additional support based on your circumstances. Ask for the ‘Hardship team’.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties, your retailer must offer you a payment plan to allow you to pay the bill in instalments. Make sure you know how much you can realistically pay each week or fortnight before you call and only agree to an instalment amount you can afford.
The Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) offers a one-off payment of up to $720 to customers who are unable to pay their electricity or gas bill due to an unexpected financial crisis. to find out what the eligibility criteria are and obtain an application form contact your retailer or you can download the application form from the QCOSS website.
For more tips to help if you are having difficulty paying your electricity or gas bills read the QCOSS Can’t pay an energy bill flyer.
Energy Savvy Families bring your bill days
The Energy Savvy Families program helps give Queenslanders the power to manage their electricity bills. Participating families in selected regions can learn more about their energy use and simple ways to manage their electricity costs.
Local Energy Savvy Families champions in each of the selected regions will be holding ‘Bring Your Bill’ day community forums to help families learn how to reduce their electricity bills.
To find out more about the Energy Savvy Families program and register for a ‘Bring Your Bill’ day event visit the QCOSS website.