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A MAJORITY of Australian households say their energy bills have risen in the past year forcing many to hunt for ways to reduce their costs.
The nation’s largest energy retailers including AGL, Origin and Energy Australia all implemented electricity and gas price hikes on July 1, which is expected to push up some household bills by hundreds of dollars annually.
New data compiled by Galaxy for financial comparison website iSelect found less than one in four people can pay their energy bills easily.
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And winter warming costs in the cooler states is to be blamed for nine out of 10 households being worried about their energy bills at this time of year.
But iSelect’s spokeswoman Laura Crowden said there are important steps consumers can take to try and reduce the financial pain.
“The recent price hikes in most states should prompt customers to review their current contract and make sure they are still getting a good deal,’’ she said.
“Most energy companies put a lot of effort into attracting new customers with generous introductory offers but these discounts generally expire after a year or two.
“If you’ve been with the same provider for several years, you could be paying a lot more than you need to.”
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New analysis by Energy Australia found customers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia use 40 per cent more energy in winter compared to summer, pushing their bills up significantly.
Ms Crowden urged consumers to weigh up special introductory offers versus ongoing rates and fees, because the enticing deals to sign up may not leave you financially better off.
Grabbing a copy of your latest energy bill and comparing what your supply charges are is a good place to start, before looking at what new customers are offered to see if they are getting a better rate.
Moneytolove.com.au’s founder Heidi Armstrong said if households are finding it tough now, particularly while interest rates are low, they should look at reducing spend on things like utilities because “it’s important to create buffers now to prepare for tougher times”.
“Shopping around online is a great starting point and a couple of phone calls to competitors could help you save significant dollars and put you in a better position to negotiate with your existing provider,’’ Ms Armstrong said.
“Ask if there is an alternative plan that will help you save money. Be clear that you are looking at your options and shopping around.”
Originally published as Quick ways to solve utility pain