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Energy bill getting out of hand?

Here's why and how you can fix it and save all year around.

Updated

Fact checked
Smartphone with home control

My colleague was paying a bit too much for energy...Maddie Burke

$500 a year too much...

Madeleine Burke had been with the same provider for the last 6 years.

And while she was paying a good price at first, her bills suddenly "ballooned up by around 40%" a few years ago.

And with this year's COVID-19 restrictions forcing Maddie to spend more time at home, her rising bill was no longer something she could ignore.

Sound familiar?

A lot of plans have what is called a 'benefit period'.

This means you get a discount for a certain period of time (usually 12 months), after which the price suddenly changes and has you scratching your head like Maddie was.

So back to the $500.

That's how much Maddie was able to save per year once she compared & switched to a cheaper plan.

Her original bill was $564 over 90 days.

The price on a new plan that she was able to find by comparing on Finder was $439.

$564 - $439 = $125 savings per bill.

In a year that's $500.

QuarterlyAnnual
Original bill$564$2,256
Estimated bill from new provider$439$1,756
Estimated savings$125$500

And the best part?

It only took her a few minutes to sign up and make the switch. Then it was completely hands off as her new provider handled everything.

Don't be like Maddie: Understand what your bill means

Australians like Maddie may just not know how to read their energy bill to figure out if they are paying too much.

In fact as I was writing this, Taylor, another colleague of mine informed me that their bill recently went from around $140-160 a month to $458.

According to Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker, a nationally representative study of over 5,000 respondents, 5.1 million Australians (29%) have little to no understanding of their electricity bill.

One in three Australians (34%) have no idea what their electricity usage is or where they can find it on their bill.

This means that even if someone wants to compare their plan to the other options out there, they might not even know where to start.

When looking at your energy bill, take note of features like:

  • Your energy usage
  • The total cost
  • The bill period

Beware of "setting and forgetting"

As was the case with Maddie, she took the deal she received from her original provider and forgot that the deal would expire at the end of the 12 month benefit period.

Check your energy plan's contract type when you sign up and take note.

If your plan has a 12 month benefit period, consider comparing and switching after that period of time.

Note: Check for any exit fees before you switch, too.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, make sure you understand what plan you are on. If your rates have gone up, be sure to compare and switch if you have to.

Use your energy wisely, either by doing things during off-peak periods or investing in energy-efficient appliances.

Quickly compare rates from Australia energy providers

Here are some deals from retailers on our database that include either a link to the retailers website for more information or to a form from an energy broker to enquire for more information. Prices are based on a residential customer in NSW (Postcode: 2000) who consumes 3,900 kWh a year on a single rate tariff in the Ausgrid network. We show one plan per provider and the estimated price includes conditional discounts (if any). Any plans with special eligibility requirements are excluded from this list. Your actual bill may vary, depending on your usage. Always check the provider's site before applying.
Name Product Features Reference Price Estimated Quarterly Price Reference Price Description Reference Price Desc Mobile More details
Origin Max Saver - Online Special
Customer service rating
Origin Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 12 months benefit period

19% less

than the reference price

$296

Includes GST
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,184 which is 19% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,184 which is 19% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Total Plan Home
Customer service rating
EnergyAustralia
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 1 Year benefit period

17% less

than the reference price

$303

Includes GST
With Total Plan Home, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,212 which is 17% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Total Plan Home, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,212 which is 17% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
HomeDeal (Single Rate)
Customer service rating
Alinta Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

16% less

than the reference price

$308

Includes GST
With HomeDeal (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,232 which is 16% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With HomeDeal (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,232 which is 16% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer
Customer service rating
Powershop
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

15% less

than the reference price

Further 5% off the reference price for Pre-payment.
$294

Includes GST and conditional discounts
Shopper Market Offer is 15% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,176 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer is 15% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,176 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Kogan Energy Market Offer
No exit fee
No lock-in

25% less

than the reference price

$274

Includes GST
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,096 which is 25% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,096 which is 25% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
ReAmped Advance | Anytime
Customer service rating
ReAmped Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

28% less

than the reference price

$265

Includes GST
With ReAmped Advance | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,060 which is 28% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With ReAmped Advance | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,060 which is 28% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
The One Plan
No exit fee
No lock-in

24% less

than the reference price

$278

Includes GST
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,112 which is 24% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,112 which is 24% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Residential Market
Customer service rating
Dodo Power & Gas
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

18% less

than the reference price

$301

Includes GST
With Residential Market, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,204 which is 18% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Residential Market, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,204 which is 18% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
1st Saver - Single Rate
Customer service rating
1st Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with Ongoing benefit period

13% less

than the reference price

$316

Includes GST
With 1st Saver - Single Rate, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With 1st Saver - Single Rate, for a residential customer who consumes 3900 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Ausgrid network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Here are some deals from retailers on our database that include either a link to the retailers website for more information or to a form from an energy broker to enquire for more information. Prices are based on a residential customer in Melbourne, Victoria (Postcode: 3000) who consumes 4,000 kWh a year on a single rate tariff in the CitiPower network. We show one plan per provider and the estimated price includes conditional discounts (if any). Any plans with special eligibility requirements are excluded from this list. Your actual bill may vary, depending on your usage. Always check the provider's site before applying.

Name Product Features Reference Price Estimated Quarterly Price Reference Price Description Reference Price Desc Mobile More details
Origin Max Saver - Online Special (Single Rate)
Customer service rating
Origin Energy
Customer service rating
No lock-in

11% less

than Victorian Default Offer

$316

Includes GST
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 11% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 11% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
HomeDeal
Customer service rating
Alinta Energy
Customer service rating
No lock-in

14% less

than Victorian Default Offer

$305

Includes GST
With HomeDeal, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,220 which is 14% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With HomeDeal, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,220 which is 14% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Total Plan Home - Peak Only
Customer service rating
EnergyAustralia
Customer service rating
1

11% less

than Victorian Default Offer

$316

Includes GST
With Total Plan Home - Peak Only, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 11% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Total Plan Home - Peak Only, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the CitiPower network, the lowest annual cost is $1,264 which is 11% less than the Victorian Default Offer (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Here are some deals from retailers on our database that include either a link to the retailers website for more information or to a form from an energy broker to enquire for more information. Prices are based on a residential customer in Brisbane (Postcode: 4000) who consumes 4,600 kWh a year on a single rate tariff in the Energex network. We show one plan per provider and the estimated price includes conditional discounts (if any). Any plans with special eligibility requirements are excluded from this list. Your actual bill may vary, depending on your usage. Always check the provider's site before applying.

Name Product Features Reference Price Estimated Quarterly Price Reference Price Description Reference Price Desc Mobile More details
Origin Max Saver - Online Special
Customer service rating
Origin Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 12 months benefit period

12% less

than the reference price

$332

Includes GST
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,328 which is 12% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,328 which is 12% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Total Plan Home
Customer service rating
EnergyAustralia
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 1 Year benefit period

13% less

than the reference price

$328

Includes GST
With Total Plan Home, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,312 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Total Plan Home, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,312 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer
Customer service rating
Powershop
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

9% less

than the reference price

Further 5% off the reference price for Pre-payment.
$321

Includes GST and conditional discounts
Shopper Market Offer is 9% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,284 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer is 9% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,284 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
The One Plan
No exit fee
No lock-in

17% less

than the reference price

$312

Includes GST
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,248 which is 17% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,248 which is 17% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Kogan Energy Market Offer
No exit fee
No lock-in

24% less

than the reference price

$285

Includes GST
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,140 which is 24% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,140 which is 24% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
1st Saver - Single Rate
Customer service rating
1st Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with Ongoing benefit period

13% less

than the reference price

$330

Includes GST
With 1st Saver - Single Rate, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,320 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With 1st Saver - Single Rate, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,320 which is 13% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
ReAmped Handshake | Anytime
Customer service rating
ReAmped Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

21% less

than the reference price

$298

Includes GST
With ReAmped Handshake | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,192 which is 21% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With ReAmped Handshake | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 4600 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the Energex network, the lowest annual cost is $1,192 which is 21% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Here are some deals from retailers on our database that include either a link to the retailers website for more information or to a form from an energy broker to enquire for more information. Prices are based on a residential customer in Adelaide, South Australia (Postcode: 5000) who consumes 4,000 kWh a year on a single rate tariff in the SA Power Network. We show one plan per provider and the estimated price includes conditional discounts (if any). Any plans with special eligibility requirements are excluded from this list. Your actual bill may vary, depending on your usage. Always check the provider's site before applying.

Name Product Features Reference Price Estimated Quarterly Price Reference Price Description Reference Price Desc Mobile More details
Origin Max Saver - Online Special
Customer service rating
Origin Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 12 months benefit period

15% less

than the reference price

$389

Includes GST
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,556 which is 15% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Origin Max Saver - Online Special, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,556 which is 15% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer
Customer service rating
Powershop
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

13% less

than the reference price

Further 5% off the reference price for Pre-payment.
$374

Includes GST and conditional discounts
Shopper Market Offer is 13% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,496 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Shopper Market Offer is 13% less than the reference price for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network. If you qualify for all discounts, the lowest annual cost is $1,496 (a further 5% below the reference price). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
ReAmped Advance | Anytime
Customer service rating
ReAmped Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

23% less

than the reference price

$351

Includes GST
With ReAmped Advance | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,404 which is 23% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With ReAmped Advance | Anytime, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,404 which is 23% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
The One Plan
No exit fee
No lock-in

21% less

than the reference price

$364

Includes GST
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,456 which is 21% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With The One Plan, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,456 which is 21% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Kogan Energy Market Offer
No exit fee
No lock-in

20% less

than the reference price

$368

Includes GST
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,472 which is 20% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Kogan Energy Market Offer, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,472 which is 20% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
No Fuss (Single Rate)
Customer service rating
Alinta Energy
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

4% less

than the reference price

$441

Includes GST
With No Fuss (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,764 which is 4% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With No Fuss (Single Rate), for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,764 which is 4% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
No Frills
Customer service rating
EnergyAustralia
Customer service rating
No exit fee
Ongoing contract with 1 Year benefit period

5% less

than the reference price

$433

Includes GST
With No Frills, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,732 which is 5% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With No Frills, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,732 which is 5% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Lumo Plus
Customer service rating
Lumo Energy (SA)
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

8% less

than the reference price

$423

Includes GST
With Lumo Plus, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,692 which is 8% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Lumo Plus, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,692 which is 8% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
Residential Market
Customer service rating
Dodo Power & Gas
Customer service rating
No exit fee
No lock-in

3% less

than the reference price

$445

Includes GST
With Residential Market, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,780 which is 3% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
With Residential Market, for a residential customer who consumes 4000 kwh a year on a flat rate tariff in the SA Power Networks network, the lowest annual cost is $1,780 which is 3% less than the reference price (including any discounts). Your actual bill will differ, based on your actual usage and tariff type.
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Smarter energy usage during COVID-19

Aside from making sure you're on a better value plan, there are a few things you can do to ensure you save on energy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are on a "time of use plan" – as in, your provider charges you more during peak periods and less during off-peak periods – plan your energy use around this.

For example, do your washing early in the morning or late at night (off-peak) if possible, or at the very least, avoid doing it during the evening.

As an example, here are the off-peak hours for customers in the Ausgrid region (winter):

PeriodTime Rates
Peak period5pm to 9pmMost expensive
Shoulder period7am to 5pmIn between
Off-peak period9pm to 7amLeast expensive

Additional tips

  • Find your energy hotspots. Can you limit your biggest power drainers? Check your heating and cooling appliances, as they usually use the most power.
  • Use energy-efficient appliances. If you can afford the upfront cost, consider installing more energy-efficient appliances so that you save more in the long run.

Picture: GettyImages

Key factors that affect your energy bill

The first step to managing your energy bill is to understand where the costs are coming from, so you can start working to reduce them. Here are some of the main factors that affect your bill:

  • Your home's design. How big it is and what features it has (gas or electric heating, central heating, etc.) will affect your energy consumption.
  • Energy efficiency of devices. Appliances can be power-hungry beasts, depending on what you have.
  • Your lifestyle. The times that you're home as well as what appliances you use and when can have a big effect on your energy bill.
  • Energy provider. Your choice of energy retailer and the contract you sign affect how much you pay.

The Finder app can send energy savings tips straight to your phone

How does your electric bill work?

The number you see printed on your electricity bill is actually composed of a few different costs added together. There are three contributors:

  • Supply charges. These are the daily fees you pay for being hooked up to the grid, regardless of whether you're using any power. Your consumption doesn't affect these.
  • Usage charges. These are a direct result of how and when you consume electricity. Your choice of retailer and the contract you sign will determine how these operate at different times of the day and week.
  • Network costs. These are the costs distributed among all consumers to pay for upgrading and maintaining new and existing power infrastructure.

Changes that you make to your own energy consumption will only affect variable rates. However, if households as a whole were to use less energy, network costs would drop since there would be less need for upgrades to support higher peak demand.

Do these charges stay the same?

Your bill could get more expensive over time. This means your rates have either gone up or they weren't that great to begin with. It's a good idea to compare often and consider making a switch.

How much can you save by switching?

Implementing just a few energy-saving measures can save a family hundreds of dollars off their bills each year. For example, switching off a games console when not in use could save up to $1931 a year, while installing a super-efficient showerhead could not only save $3151 in water bills but a bunch of electricity too by not having to heat excess water. Small changes add up.

1. https://www.energy.gov.au

Three steps to save

So how can you save? Here are three steps to starting your energy saving journey.

  • Research. Understand what's driving up the price of electricity, and how your house and lifestyle affect your own bill. This guide can help with your research.
  • Investigate and organise. Investigate your household's energy use to understand the biggest contributors to your electricity bill. Search around your house to find energy "hotspots" — devices that are consuming large amounts of power.
  • Compare. Make sure to shop between different electricity and gas providers in your area for the best deal. Sign a contract with a variable rate that suits your lifestyle and power-usage patterns. Consider whether installing smart meters on some appliances would help or whether you should purchase more energy-efficient devices than you have now.

Standing offers vs Market offers

How to negotiate a better energy contract

You often don't need to settle for what the energy company is offering; there are ways to negotiate a better energy contract.

5 steps to help you negotiate

Here's some tips to ensure you get a good deal:

  • Shop around. Searching online is a great way to develop a good understanding of the market. That way, you can easily compare energy provider prices side by side and you know you're not paying more than you should.
  • Pay attention to the fine print. Look out for details on pricing and offers like pay on time discounts. Also keep an eye out for clauses like a 'take-or-pay' clause. This means you'll still have to pay even if you use less than the minimum amount of energy.
  • Contract period. The best contract period depends on the market. For instance, if current prices are more expensive than future prices, then a shorter contract makes more sense. Alternatively, a longer contract could help you save if you will struggle to buy cheaper energy in the future.
  • Know how much data you use. If you can give the energy provider at least 12 months of information on your energy usage for each half-hour period, they are unlikely to charge you a premium. You should be able to get this data from your current energy supplier.
  • Plan ahead. It's good to know whether you will make any major changes in the future. Whether you plan to move house or expand your business, a longer contract is probably only worth it if you have a good idea of what lies ahead.

How to switch energy providers

As long as you don't live in Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Western Australia or outside of south-east Queensland, you will have a choice of energy retailers. Even if you can't pick between providers, you'll have a choice of contracts with different types of rates.

You can use Finder's online energy comparison tool to help you find the providers and plans best suited for you, wherever you live. Remember to be careful when choosing a contract — if it doesn't match your lifestyle and needs, you could end up paying more than you would otherwise.

Finally, you can shorten your billing cycle to pay monthly. This won't drive down costs, but it can help you avoid large tri-monthly shock bills and help you budget more effectively.

Managing your energy use

Once you have a basic picture of your energy consumption, including when and how you use the most energy, you can go deeper into managing it:

  • Compare patterns of use. Using your energy bills, figure out how your energy consumption has changed with the seasons and how your energy use this year compares to the last. If you're using more than you used to, or use more in summer or winter, figure out why.
  • Consider time of use. Do you stay at home during the day and go out at night? Are you part of a family that arrives home together and switches everything from the computer to the lights on? Knowing this should help you pick the right type of energy contract. Additionally, switching appliance use to off-peak periods (like running your wash late at night) can help lower costs.
  • Find energy hotspots. Usually, the biggest guzzlers of power in your house will be heating and cooling, followed by standby power, lighting and cooking. Make sure the appliances you use to heat and cool your house are installed correctly and well-maintained, and see if you can get them to run more efficiently with small changes.
  • Use energy-efficient appliances. Appliances make up about 30% of electricity bills. Cheaper appliances may cost you more in the long run with the energy they chew through. Don't buy big appliances with features you won't use, and go for ones with the highest energy star rating. Finally, make sure you install and maintain them properly — don't place your fridge next to a hot oven, for example.
  • Take simple action. There are many little things you can do to save. If you get cold in winter, you may want to invest in thicker sheets instead of turning on a heater or buy a more efficient heater if possible. Blocking holes in your house can also save on heating costs.

Beware of standby power

Standby power is the electricity that's consumed by your appliances that aren't being used or when they are on 'standby'.

How badly does standby power impact energy use?

Standby power accounts for as much as 10% of overall household electricity usage and while most appliances only draw a small amount of energy on standby, the costs add up. Your digital home appliances alone could be costing you as much as $171.27 a year. Luckily, reducing your bill is as easy as flicking a switch.

Bonus tip: What do I turn off?

Embrace off-peak power

Power's most expensive when everyone else is using it, usually from 7am-10pm daily. Here are two ways to profit off consuming power when no one else is:

  • Off-peak water heater. Since heating water consumes about 25% of a household's electricity, installing a system which only heats water during off-peak periods and then stores it for use can really cut your bills. Check if this is available with your retailer and water heater.
  • Time-of-use plans. This type of energy tariff charges you less for energy during off-peak periods. So long as you have a smart meter involved and your household consumption patterns support it, this might help you save.

Why is energy getting more expensive?

The network costs mentioned above are the main reason energy prices have continued to rise in the past decade or so. There are constant upgrades being made to Australia's power infrastructure, such as replacing and repairing old poles and wires as well as increasing network capacity for a growing population and rising peak energy demands. As these operations continue and expand, electricity bills grow to match them.

How to save energy in different areas of your life

Save energy around the home

  • Insulate everywhere
  • Update your light globes
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning
Woman walking on sunny modern, luxury home showcase bedroom balcony with ocean view

Save energy in the kitchen

  • Microwaves use less energy than your oven
  • Cook food with a lid on for faster cooking
  • Keep the oven door shut as much as possible
kitchen

Save energy in the bathroom

  • Short showers over baths
  • Fix the dripping taps
  • Insulate copper pipes
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Save energy in the laundry

  • Use the cold wash
  • Get a front loader washing machine
  • Hang your washing on a clothesline instead of the dryer
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Save energy outdoors

  • Solar power is your friend
  • Motion sensors for outdoor lights
  • use timers for pool filters

How much does a pool cost to run each year?

Kids in an inflatable pool

Save energy with your PC

  • Adjust the screen's brightness
  • Get a powerboard that powers off accessories when your PC is off
  • Shut down at the end of the day
Computer on desk

Save energy at work

  • Your office culture will play a big part in saving energy at work
  • Laptops are more energy efficient than desktops
  • Make sure you switch off the lights at the end of the day
Commercial office

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