North Western Sydney residents may be bracing for bill shock with new iSelect research revealing that 86 per cent of NSW households are concerned about their upcoming winter energy bill.
The study, commissioned to assess the attitudes and behaviours of NSW households towards energy affordability this winter, also found thatover 1.5 million households (or 59 per cent of NSW homes) believe their energy bills have increased over the past year.
In the wake of rising energy costs, 23 per cent of NSW households have cut back on other areas to afford their energy bills over the past 12 months. While households are most commonly cutting back on dining out and entertainment costs, it’s concerning that over 450,000 NSW homes(17 per cent) have cut back on groceries in order to pay their energy bills.
Energy bills are traditionally their highest in winter, with energy-hungry appliances like heaters and electric blankets working longer and harder to keep households warm during the colder months.
Laura Crowden, iSelect spokesperson, said it was worrying that energy costs may be forcing North Western Sydney families to brave the cold and cut back on essentials like food and heating costs during winter.
“73 per cent of NSW households told us that energy costs affect how long or often they operate their home’s heating,” Laura said.
“During winter around forty per cent of your energy can be used up simply by heating the home and running heaters around the clock may result in higher than expected energy bills that stretch North Western Sydney household budgets to their limits,” said Laura.
Over 165,000 NSW households have been on a hardship plan in the last year and a third of mortgage holders have had to cut back on their winter energy use to meet their home loan repayments.
Laura said the survey showed that while winter energy costs are a concern for most people, just 37 per cent have taken the time to compare or switch providers.
“Just over a third of NSW homes have taken the time to shop around or change providers in the last year, which means many households could be paying more than they need to for energy, particularly if they are still on a standard retail plan.”
Increased competition in NSW means retailers are offering generous introductory offers or rebates to entice new customers such as credit towards their account.
Laura said North Western Sydney residents concerned about energy costs this winter should take the time to speak to an energy expert.
“They can help you understand your current plan, talk you through the variety of options available and help you decide if an alternative plan or provider could offer you better value.”
But Laura cautioned North Western Sydney home owners against simply focusing on price only and encouraged them to find a plan that suits their lifestyle and individual energy needs, as well as their budget.
“Many energy retailers also offer flexible payment options, with discounts for paying on time or online, or the ability to pay in instalments to avoid the bill shock that comes from an unexpectedly large quarterly bill.”
|iSelect’s top 5 tips for finding best energy deal|
|1. Save money with the right plan – reducing your consumption won’t necessarily reduce your bill significantly. The best way to save money is to make sure you are on the best value plan to begin with|
|2. Flexible payment options – pay your bills weekly, fortnightly or monthly, or sign up for bill smoothing which will divide your annual usage into even monthly installments, avoiding bill shock|
|3. Be wary of pay on time discounts – paying on time could save you up 30 per cent but if you often pay your bills late, you could end up paying a lot more than you expected|
|4. Look out for special offers – increased competition means some retailers are offering generous introductory offers or rebates to entice new customers such as credit towards your account|
|5. Shop around – use increased energy competition to your advantage by comparing current offers. Call an energy comparison service like iSelect and make sure you have a copy of your latest bill handy|