Australians forgo outings to pay power bills

New research shows one in 10 consumers are prepared to stop going out just to pay their power bills.

Comparison website said its survey revealed that 70 per cent of respondents, equivalent to 13 million Australians, were actively taking measures to fight the rise in energy prices.

One third said they were reducing their energy usage, while a further 15 per cent had called their provider to ask for a better deal.

A further one in 10 consumers said they had cut down on other expenses such as groceries and going out, but only 11 per cent said they had switched providers to find a better value plan.

Finder’s Graham Cooke said consumers could do more to reduce their power bills over the cooler months.

“If last weekend was an indicator of what we should expect this winter, we need to find ways to further reduce our energy spend as they’ll skyrocket with Aussies trying to stay warm,” Mr Cooke said.

“Switching providers can often fall into the too-hard basket, but we’re coming into a season where energy usage no doubt will be high. Now is the perfect time to review your plan and make sure you’re getting the best available deal for your needs.”

How have you dealt with the rising cost of energy?


  I cut down on energy use


  I called my provider and asked for a better deal


  I switched providers


  I cut down on other expenses to afford it (e.g. food, going out, shopping)


  I haven’t noticed it


  I have noticed it, but I have no problems covering the higher bills

“Although it’s nothing new, it’s disappointing to see that energy prices have become such a burden that Aussies are needing to cut down on other necessities and the things that make life enjoyable, like going out,” Mr Cooke said.

“Instead, they should consider switching or even simply asking their provider for more value from their plan – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

“Many energy providers offer extra discounts if you switch your plan to an auto-payment option, but if you never see your bill, checking for incorrect charges will fall through the cracks. That means you’ll never know whether you’re spending too much, or notice unexpectedly high bills that might be due to power company errors.”

The survey showed South Australians and Queenslanders were doing the most to fight the rising cost of energy and Tasmanians the least.

How to switch providers and save:
1.    Negotiate with your provider
Call your provider to see if there’s anything they can do before you switch. There might be a plan that offers you better discounts and rates to suit your needs, especially if you’re a ‘flight risk’. 
2.    Compare usage charges rather than discounts
It can often seem a lot easier to compare discounts and incentives over your usage charges, but try to get into the habit of looking at the fact sheet and weighing up which plan charges you less for your electricity consumption. A lower usage charge plan can sometimes end up leaving you with a cheaper bill than a plan with a large discount. 
3.    Ask about future changes to pricing
A plan might look good on paper but if the provider you’re thinking of switching to is considering rejigging their usage pricing, plans and discounts you might not end up with the best deal.
4.    Choose a conditional discount you can meet
If you’re unlikely to pay your bills on time it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of plans that give you a discount for doing so. Keep in mind that if you don’t pay on time you might lose your discount and incur a late payment fee. Instead, opt for a plan that gives you a discount for direct debiting each bill.

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