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- As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, many Australians will find themselves facing financial difficulties. Your utility bills are one of those things that may cause you more financial stress during this frantic period.
- Energy disconnections are temporarily suspended for customers who haven't paid their bills.
- Vulnerable customers with life support needs or who need their supply reconnected are being prioritised.
- Their financial hardship program is still operating as normal, including payment extensions and tailored payment plans for struggling customers.
- Encouraging customers to get in touch online rather than via the phone to avoid long wait times.
- Customers will not have their power disconnected during this period.
- Advice and help for small businesses depending on their particular situation with a team of business energy specialists.
- Encouraging online communication via MyAccount (on its website), Facebook, online enquiry form or email because of reduced call centre hours.
- Western Australian residents can access the Continuous Energy Program, which is a similar financial hardship program by another name.
- A $5 million special financial hardship program entitled the COVID-19 Customer Support Program. This can include debt freezing, fee and charge waiving and bill relief in addition to regular financial hardship assistance.
- Suspension of meter reads to protect staff, meaning quarterly reads will be estimated.
- Rate freezes for residential and business customers until 30 June.
- No late or penalty fees for missed or late payments.
- No power disconnection for non-payment during this period.
- $200 utility payment for all households, applied as an automatic rebate. EnergyAustralia has stated that this rebate will be applied to eligible accounts on May 2020. Check with your provider when this rebate will be applied to your account.
- $500 utility rebate for small and medium businesses that consume less than 100,000 kWh, automatically applied
- Freeze on domestic charges including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares
- Doubling Energy Assistance Program payments for low income earners and concession card holders to assist in paying utility bills
- $30 million in extra funds for the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance Scheme (EAPA)
- Additional $200 to households that are receiving the Utilities Concession. EnergyAustralia has stated that this rebate will be applied to eligible accounts on 30 April 2020. Check with your provider when this rebate will be applied to your account.
- $750 rebate to small businesses on their next electricity bill
- $5 million support fund established in partnership with state supplier Aurora Energy, including payment plans, debt freezing, bill relief and waiving fees and charges
- Review. The first step to saving energy is to understand where the costs are coming from. Identify your main energy-hungry appliances and any sources of inefficiency in your home's design.
- Time of use. Do you use most electricity during the day or night? If you use the majority of your power in the morning and early afternoon, you might benefit from a time of use tariff, which charges less during these off-peak periods.
- Energy hotspots. Big energy sinks include heating and cooling, as well as standby lights. Ensure your heating, cooling and cooking devices are properly installed, well-maintained and efficient.
- Energy-efficient appliances. Appliances account for about 30% of your energy bills. Get simpler appliances with only the features you need and look for higher efficiency star ratings.
- Payment plans can be made and include temporarily postponing your payment to partial, ongoing payments over an agreed upon time period. These can be set up via the MyAussie app or by contacting the Aussie Broadband support team.
- Tailored individual services are available for customers who are experiencing financial difficulties. There is no maximum period of time for these solutions as they as assessed on a case by case basis.
- Waiving late payment fees until April 30
- Suspending disconnection and credit collection activities until April 30
- Have a member of the household receiving the JobSeeker Payment or Family Tax Benefit Part A or B
- Have a school aged child living at your address, and
- Not be currently connected to the NBN
- Speed. Faster plans attract higher monthly costs. Consider whether you actually need the speed tier you're on or if you could get by with a slower plan. For example, if you have a household of two and don't really need to stream ultra-high-definition video, you would likely be fine downgrading from NBN50 to NBN25. Remember, you can always switch back later if you aren't happy.
- Data caps. While many plans offer unlimited data these days, limited data plans still exist. You may be able to save a little money each month by switching from unlimited to limited, especially if you really don't need all that data. You can use our data usage calculator to get a rough estimate of how much data you go through on your home Internet each month.
- Provider switch. Providers are constantly offering promotional deals to lure in new customers. If you're motivated, you could switch from provider to provider every 6 months to a year to take advantage of temporary plan cost reductions or the like.
- Modems. Some providers will let you bring your own modem when you buy a plan with them, while others require you to buy a new one. Switching to providers that don't force you to shell out for a new modem can save you around a hundred dollars each time.
The good news is that most energy and Internet providers have some sort of financial hardship program in place in order to make this financial burden more manageable for you, with some having come out with more specific responses in relation to COVID-19.
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Coronavirus assistance from your energy provider
Most energy providers have a financial hardship policy that includes payment extensions, payment plans if people are behind on their bills, automatic payment of bills via Centrelink income and financial counselling referrals. Retailers that provide programs like these include Red Energy and Simply Energy.
Here are some specific measures different companies have put in place as a result of the coronavirus.
Origin Energy say they've added some extra support while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing:
Like Origin, AGL has put out a response to the current situation for customers. In summary:
"We have a range of options that we can offer customers who may be struggling to pay their bills, the most important thing to do, is to get in touch with us early, so we can work with you to ensure you are on an affordable plan that suits your circumstances."
- Brett Redman, AGL's Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director
EnergyAustralia will be offering their regular financial hardship assistance via the EnergyAssist program, as well as:
For customers in Victoria, NSW, SA and QLD, Alinta will apply their regular financial hardship programs. They are also doing the following:
In partnership with the Tasmanian government, Aurora has agreed to a price increase cap for the next 12 months and a 100% waiver on the next energy bill for small business customers after 1 April. There will also be:
Powershop are offering their customers:
There will be no disconnection for Energy Locals customers during this period. They've also advised customers to call rather than email with any queries.
For more details on getting in touch with your provider and finding out what financial hardship measures they're offering, check out the table below.
State responses to help with your energy bills
Outside of specific energy providers, most state governments have taken steps to protect low income earners during this pandemic crisis. In Western Australia alone, from 16 March until mid 2021, there is a freeze on household fees and charges.
Here are all the latest state responses in regards to your energy bills:
|State||Measures in place|
In addition to the above, energy companies will usually help you find out what energy rebates, government grants or assistance programs you might be able to access. If you'd like to check our full list of concessions and rebates organised by state, check out our guide here.
What if your energy provider hasn't said anything about coronavirus?
Not limited to coronavirus, some energy companies still offer financial hardship plans designed to assist residents who are struggling to pay their bills. These programs vary from retailer to retailer, but often include extra time to make payments and payment plans.
Here's a quick rundown of major energy providers' financial hardship plans:
|Payment plans||Tailored plan that considers your current financial position||Specially designed plan to cover your debt and energy payments over two years||Weekly, fortnightly or monthly plans to cover debt and energy fees over 12 months|
|Centrepay (automatic redirect of Centrelink payments to energy bills)|
|Financial counselling referral|
Contact details of energy providers in relation to financial hardship
|1st Energy||1300 426 594||More info|
|ActewAGL||1300 138 574||More info|
|AGL||1300 659 925||More info|
|Alinta||13 37 02||More info|
|Amaysim||1300 808 300||More info|
|Amber Electric||1300 693 637||More info|
|Aurora Energy||1300 10 2010.||More info|
|Blue NRG||1300 599 888||More info|
|Click Energy||1800 77 59 29||More info|
|Commander Electricity||133 914||More info|
QLD 1300 555 727
|DC Power Co||1800 462 668||More info|
|Diamond Energy||1300 838 009||More info|
|Discover Energy||1300 946 898||More info|
|Dodo Power & Gas||1300 374 757||More info|
|Elysian Energy||1300 671 799||More info|
|Energy Australia||1800 558 643||More info|
|Energy Locals||1300 693 637||More info|
|Enova||(02) 5622 1700||More info|
|Ergon Energy||13 10 46||More info|
|ERM Business Energy||N/A||N/A|
|Future X Energy||1300 599 008||More info|
|GloBird Energy||133 677||More info|
|Horizon Power||1800 267 926||More info|
|Jacana Energy||1800 522 262||More info|
|Kleenheat||13 21 80||More info|
|Kogan Energy||1300 005 123||More info|
|LPE Energy||1800 040 168||More info|
|Lumo Energy||1300 660 293||More info|
|Mojo Power||1300 936 117||More info|
|Momentum Energy||1800 007 007||More info|
|Next Business Energy||1300 466 398||More info|
|Origin||13 24 61||More info|
|OVO Energy||N/A||More info|
|People Energy||1300 788 970||More info|
|Perth Energy||(08) 9420 0353||More info|
|Pooled Energy||1300 364 703||More info|
|Power and Water||1800 245 092||More info|
|Power Direct||1300 307 966||More info|
|Powerclub||1300 294 459||More info|
|Powershop||1800 515 313||More info|
|QEnergy||1300 698 992||More info|
|ReAmped Energy||QLD 13 74 68|
VIC 1800 307 758
|Red Energy||131 806||More info|
|Sanctuary Energy||1800 109 099||More info|
|Simply Energy||13 88 08||More info|
|Sumo||13 88 60||More info|
|Synergy||13 13 53||More info|
|Tango Energy||1800 010 648||More info|
|TasGas||1800 750 750|
How can you be more efficient with your energy?
If you want more energy-saving tips, we've put together a more comprehensive guide to saving energy and picking the right energy plan. You can also take a look at the video below which explains how switching energy providers could help you lower your bills.
Coronavirus assistance from your Internet provider
With businesses and workplaces closing down or minimising their hours due to the coronavirus outbreak, we'll be seeing a change in the financial situations of everyday Australians in the coming weeks and months. Some Internet companies have introduced special assistance measures to help customers affected by COVID-19 on top of their regular financial hardship programs.
Currently, only four Internet providers have announced extra help for those specifically affected by COVID-19. We're keeping this page regularly updated and will add new information as we hear from providers.
Vodafone has mentioned that customers who have been financially affected either directly or indirectly from COVID-19 shouldn't hesitate to contact them in regards to applying for Vodafone's financial hardship program online or over the phone.
Aussie Broadband has announced a temporary halt on suspending plans due to non-payment, in order to relieve a bit of stress for its customers during this period. Aussie Broadband will continue running its regular financial hardship policy and understand that there will be customers who need an extra hand due to being impacted by COVID-19. They've also reached out to us to expand on their policies, encouraging customers to get into contact with them if they are struggling:
Telstra has followed suit and stopped late fees and disconnections until the end of June for small businesses and consumers who aren't able to pay their bills.
Telstra has also set up an online bill assistance hub for customers who need an extra hand. Through the hub, customers can enquire about a payment plan with Telstra, arrange to pay their bills at a later date, suspend services for up to 90 days and reconnect free of charge at the end of that period, or downsize their plans.
Telstra customers who are receiving the JobSeeker payment and have a fixed bundled service or multiple Telstra postpaid mobile plans may be eligible for a $20 monthly discount off their total bill for 6 months. Those on a single Telstra postpaid plan may receive a $10 discount off their bill for 6 months. You can apply from April 20 until June 30.
From March 27, Optus will be offering the following to their customers (including small businesses):
Optus will also be providing more support for customers who are eligible for the Government Coronavirus financial support, with more details to come.
Other Internet providers
Whilst other providers have yet to comment on support services in direct relation to COVID-19, many have introduced bonus data offers for their customers to ease the transition to working from home or self-isolation at home.
NBN Co's coronavirus broadband relief package
On April 17, NBN Co announced a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund intended to assist low-income Australians, and selected small and medium businesses to maintain access to Internet services during this coronavirus period. In response to the relief package, many providers have stepped out to offer discounted or free NBN services for disadvantaged families with school aged children. To be eligible for these deals from Internet providers, you'll need to meet the following requirements:
The below table lists the current offers that providers have announced:
|Provider||What's on offer for low income households|
|Aussie Broadband||Free NBN25 plans will be awarded to customers on a case-by-case basis.|
|Superloop||Online Learning Plan launched - giving away 5000 free NBN25 services until the end of September.|
|Dodo||$30 monthly discount on the price of their NBN25 101GB plan for the first 6 months (originally $60/month). Free upgrade on this plan to unlimited data until June 30.|
|Vodafone||Free Essential NBN plan until September 30 for eligible customers. Must be on plan for at least one month, but then you can leave at any time. BYO modem or purchase one from Vodafone.|
|Flip||Plan fees waived for NBN25 plans until September 30. Modem purchase from Flip not included. You can BYO modem, but plan will instead cost you $10/month.|
|IPSTAR||Free Sky Muster Plus plans, where 70% of your Internet usage is unmetered.|
For more detailed information about your eligibility and how to sign up for these offers, make sure you contact your Internet provider directly.
What if your Internet provider hasn't specified anything about coronavirus?
Many Internet providers already have financial hardship policies in place to assist struggling customers. Here's a quick comparison of what's available from some of the major broadband providers, though you should always check with your own provider to see what's actually available for you.
|Plan review||May involve limiting services.||May involve service restriction.||May involve service restriction.||Potentially moving you to a lower cost plan.|
|Flexible payments/payment plans||Not explicitly mentioned in its policy.|
|Waive late fees|
Unlike some energy providers who explicitly include financial counselling referrals, Internet providers unfortunately don't offer the same service. However, some Internet providers do include links to free financial counsellor services in their financial hardship policies which are worth a look at.
Contact details of Internet providers for financial hardship
|10Mates||1800 870 817||More info|
|Accord||1300 017 150||More info|
|Activ8me||13 22 88||More info|
|ALDImobile||1300 989 000||More info|
|amaysim Broadband||1300 808 300||More info|
|ANT Communications||1300 268 266||More info|
|Aussie Broadband||1300 880 905||More info|
|Australia Broadband||1300 023 354||More info|
|Barefoot||1300 017 622||More info|
|Belong Broadband||1300 235 664||More info|
|Bendigo Telco Broadband||1300 228 123||More info|
|Better Life Broadband||03 9018 5349||More info|
|Catch Connect||1300 222 825||More info|
|Clear Networks||1300 855 215||More info|
|Click Broadband||1300 254 255||More info|
|CMobile Broadband||1300 545 000||More info|
|Commander||1300 303 687||More info|
|dcsi||1300 66 55 75||More info|
|Dodo Broadband||1300 907 283||More info|
|Exetel||1300 788 141||More info|
|Flip Broadband||(02) 8666 8258||More info|
|Foxtel Broadband||131 999||More info|
|Future Broadband||08 6117 0600||More info|
|Harbour ISP||1300 366 169||More info|
|Hello Mobile||1800 007 007||More info|
|iiNet||13 22 58||More info|
|Inspired Broadband||1300 107 744||More info|
|Internode||1300 889 188||More info|
|iPrimus||131 789||More info|
|IPSTAR||1300 464 778||More info|
|Kogan Broadband||1300 010 400||More info|
|Lebara||126 122||More info|
|Logitel Broadband||1300 30 1428||More info|
|Mate Broadband||13 14 13||More info|
|Mint Telecom||1300 586 468||More info|
|Moose Broadband||3193 9400||More info|
|More Telecom||1800 733 368||More info|
|MyNetFone||1300 731 048||More info|
|Optus||13 39 37||More info|
|Origin Broadband||13 24 61||More info|
|OVO Broadband||13 56 86||More info|
|Reachnet||1300 798 007||More info|
|SkyMesh||1300 759 637||More info|
|Southern Phone||13 14 64||More info|
|SpinTel Broadband||13 22 10||More info|
|Start Broadband||1300 475 155||More info|
|Superloop||1800 10 12 10||More info|
|Tangerine Telecom||1800 211 112||More info|
|Telechoice||1300 835 324||More info|
|Telstra Broadband||13 22 00||More info|
|Think Mobile Broadband||1300 2 84465||More info|
|Tomi||1300 655 982||More info|
|TPG Broadband||N/A||More info|
|Uniti Wireless||1300 847 201||More info|
|Vodafone Broadband||1300 650 410||More info|
|Westnet Broadband||1300 786 068||More info|
|Yomojo Broadband||1300 966 656||More info|
How to save on your Internet bill
Here's a couple things for you consider when you're trying to find a cheaper Internet plan:
Other ways to save money
Your utilities bills are one of those things that won't easily budge, even if you're facing a tough time. The good news is that there are always ways to save on your bills.
From managing your daily expenses to switching providers, check out our guides below for more tips and tricks to help you save some money.
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