Ok, so here’s the good news, we live in the lucky country with the world’s most liveable cities, great people and brilliant coffee. Here’s the bad news; house prices are rising, the Aussie dollar is falling and the days of $3.50 coffees are fast going the way of Myspace and the Macarena.
In short, life is getting expensive and lots of Australians are looking to cut back on things like holidays, shopping and entertainment in order to pay their household bills. However instead of cutting back on the fun stuff, why not try to bring down the cost of your bills in the first place?
Take energy for example. We've all received an energy bill in the mail and been shocked at how high it is. What is your first instinct? Work out what you need to cut back on in order to pay it, or find out how to lower future energy bills?
To apply a medical analogy; one approach alleviates the symptom while the other addresses the disease. Now unlike many diseases, you can never rid yourself of energy bills completely (unless you move to a cave) but there are some simple things you can do to avoid the dreaded bill shock and ensure you’re getting the best value deal.
How can I save on my energy bills?
1. Understand your bill
Reviewing your energy bills can be a major buzz-kill. Energy bills are complicated and let's be honest, pretty boring. Knowing what you’re paying per kilowatt and your current pricing levels during peak and off-peak times is important but it can be confusing trying to figure it out on your own. Call your provider or an energy comparison service and they'll be able to talk you through your latest bill and explain how you are currently being charged.
It's worth knowing that a large chunk of your energy bill is made up of network charges and unfortunately this means that reducing your energy consumption won't necessarily make your bills much cheaper.
Often, the best way to save money on energy is to make sure you are on the best value plan to begin with. Look for a plan that offers guaranteed discount rates and cost effective tariffs suited to your consumption patterns.
2. Think about doing the splits
Little known fact: You can split your gas and electricity providers and seek the best deal for each power source. Some of the newer providers out there currently only offer electricity and have some competitive deals which you can sign up to while keeping your existing gas provider.
3. Go paperless
From a billing perspective, depending on your provider, there can be savings if you opt to manage your account online via paperless billing. Some will also offer discounts for customers who pay via direct debit.
4. Get a special offer… but beware
Increased retail energy competition in most Australian states means energy providers are competing heavily for your business, with some providers offering generous introductory offers such as credit towards your account to attract new customers.
Conditional discounts are also becoming increasingly common. Some providers currently offer plans with more than 30 per cent off if you pay your bill by the due date but you need to be realistic about your payment habits. If you know you always pay your bill on time, a pay on time discount can work really well but if you often forget to pay bills by the due date you could end up paying a lot more than you were expecting.
With all discount offers it's important to check any ongoing fees or penalties before making a final decision. What’s good in the short-term is not always the best in the long-term.
5. Let someone else do all the hard work
It’s hard to find the time or the motivation to do hours of research and make dozens of phone calls to different energy providers. So why not call an energy comparison expert like iSelect and run them through your latest bill. They will do all the research and give you a black and white answer as to what plan from their range of providers would best suit your unique energy needs and even take care of the switch for you – all in one easy call. And if you’re already on the best value plan, they'll tell you that too. It's a win-win situation!
So by making a quick phone call to sort out your energy bills you'll have more free time to enjoy this lucky country of ours and hopefully some extra disposable income to spend on our brilliant coffee!
Laura Crowden works for leading online comparison site iSelect and loves nothing more than spoiling her cat, long brunches and helping Australians find the right energy plan or health insurance policy.
iSelect is Australia’s leading multi-channel comparison service, providing Australian consumers with trusted product comparison and advice on more than 12,500 insurance, energy, personal finance and broadband products from over 85 partner providers. With a household brand that attracts over 7 million unique visitors to its website every year, iSelect now distributes 1 in 5 of all private health insurance policies in Australia. Owing to its digitally enabled and customer-centric advice model, iSelect continues to grow its market-leading position in health insurance, energy, life insurance and personal finance comparison.
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