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Shiver me timbers: 6 million Aussie households cutting back on heating to save money

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More than a million Australian households cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,090 respondents revealed almost 3 in 4 of the nation's households (72%) – equivalent to 6 million – are having to cut back on heating due to cost of living pressures.

The research found 1 in 8 (13%) simply can't afford to heat their homes, while almost 1 in 5 (18%) are forced to rely less on heating because their other daily expenses have increased.

A further 2 in 5 (40%) admit they had curbed their heating use as they were worried about rising energy prices.

Mariam Gabaji, utilities expert at Finder, said it was cause for concern.

"A growing number of households can't even cover the basic necessities anymore with many going without heating as temperatures start to drop.

"A big electricity bill is just too much of a burden for many families right now."

This comes as electricity prices increased by 20–25% on 1 July, according to the Australian Energy Regulator.

What will energy bills look like for my postcode from 1 July?

Finder looked at annual estimates for 2 to 3-person households on a standing offer, single-rate tariff plan across postcodes in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and South East Queensland.

"You can click your state and enter your postcode in the search bar to see what your next bill might look like.

"The potential change could leave your eyes watering," Gabaji said.

StateNew average electricity bill*Worst impacted areasLeast impacted areas
NSW$2,308 (up from $1,911)$565 or 23.15% annual increase$275 or 20.2% annual increase
VIC$1,817 (up from $1,438)$402 or 27% annual increase$275 or 22% annual increase
SA$2,146 (up from $1,722)$654 or 24.6% annual increase$391 or 24.6% annual increase
Southeast Queensland$1,910 (up from $1,588)Every postcode in the area will see a $322 increase (up 21%) over the yearN/A
Source: Finder
*Actual increase can vary between households depending on energy consumption and whether you're on a standing or a market offer.

Gabaji urged households to switch to a better electricity plan before price hikes kick in.

"Around 1 in 10 Australians are on a standing offer contract and are missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings.

"Standing offers are only meant to act as a stop gap for households that don't shop around for energy deals."

Worryingly Victorians are most likely to be cutting back (79%) on heating despite being one of the coldest states in Australia.

Women (77%) are more likely than men (67%) to be struggling with the cost of heating.

"You should be comparing energy plans at least every 12 months and switching to a better deal when you can. Also, look for plans that are lower than the reference price.

"Wearing extra layers and covering windows and door drafts could help protect vulnerable Aussies from dropping temperatures.

"Think about other expenses where you could cut back to prioritise keeping warm and check on vulnerable neighbours this winter," Gabaji said.

Are you having to use your heater less due to cost of living pressures?
Yes, I'm worried about rising energy prices40%
Yes, my other daily expenses have increased18%
Yes, I can't afford it13%
No, cost of living pressures have not affected how much I am using my heater28%
Source: Finder survey of 1,090 Australians, June 2023

See how much energy bills will rise in your suburb, here.

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