Media Release

Power struggle: Australia’s $76 million electricity debt

        • The average debt on hardship programs is $1,111 per household
        • 6,000 households in NSW are struggling to pay their bills
        • How to reduce your energy bill

9 September, 2019, Sydney, AustraliaMore Aussies are on hardship programs to cope with the rising cost of electricity, reveals new analysis by Finder, Australia's most visited comparison site.

Finder analysed figures from the Australian Energy Regulator which revealed there's been a 17% increase in the number of Aussies on hardship programs over the last two years.

The analysis shows an additional 6,000 households in NSW are struggling to pay their electricity bills, and turning to hardship programs. This represents a 27% jump over a two-year period1.

ACT had the highest increase with 64% more homes facing difficulties to keep the lights on.

Finder research shows energy bills cause 26% of Aussies stress and is the second most worrying household expenses behind housing.

Graham Cooke, insights manager at Finder, says with rising electricity prices, it's no surprise more Aussies are leaning on hardship programs.

"All electricity providers have hardship programs in place to help those who get behind in their bills. They key is to call your provider if you can't pay your bill and tell them about your circumstances.

"If you're regularly facing unexpected bills it's time to review your usage, plan and provider.

"It's easy to set and forget your energy, and many of us haven't switched providers in years. Over time, some energy providers may move longer-term customers onto lower value tariffs.

"Take a look at your plan and see what else is other there – chances are you could find a better deal elsewhere.

In 2018, the average debt of those on hardship programs for electricity was $1,111, which equates to over $76 million nationally.

The state with the most amount of electricity related debt during 2018 was NSW - totalling over $27.9 million.

Number of households on hardship 2017/18Average household debtTotal debt

Source: AER, Finder

1Comparing 2015-2016 financial year, to 2017-2018 financial year

How to reduce your energy bill

  • Wash clothes in cold water. Hot water will cost you more on your bill. Warm washes will do a better job, but keep those for loads of really dirty clothes
  • Get a smart meter. Sometimes it's hard to know which appliance is costing you the most. Using a monitor will help you know which appliances are using power.
  • Switch providers. When was the last time you checked to see you were on the best deal? If you've been with the same provider for years, you can save by switching to a better deal.


For further information


The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on's review pages for the current correct values.

About Finder

Every month 2.6 million unique visitors turn to Finder to save money and time, and to make important life choices. We compare virtually everything from credit cards, phone plans, health insurance, travel deals and much more.

Our free service is 100% independently-owned by three Australians: Fred Schebesta, Frank Restuccia and Jeremy Cabral. Since launching in 2006, Finder has helped Aussies find what they need from 1,800+ brands across 100+ categories.

We continue to expand and launch around the globe, and now have offices in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland and the Philippines. For further information visit

12.6 million average unique monthly audience (June- September 2019), Nielsen Digital Panel

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