Living on a fixed income makes it important to have the very best energy deal. Balancing home comfort and an affordable energy bill is not always easy, but with some simple changes you can rest easy.
Compare and save
Victoria has a highly competitive energy market and switching retailers, or plans, can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Go to Victorian Energy Compare. Using your latest electricity or gas bill (or both), enter some basic details about your energy consumption and you can quickly and easily compare offers.
Check the fine print. Here are some things to check.
- Does a fee apply for exiting the contract early?
- Can the price be increased during the contract period?
- Will you receive hard copy or email bills? How often?
- What payment methods can you use?
- If there's a discount, is it on all or part of the bill?
- Do you need to pay on time, or in a certain way, to get the discount?
Changing your plan or retailer
After doing this research, it's likely you've found a better offer.
You can get all the details in writing by calling the retailer who has the plan you are interested in and asking them to make a summary offer.
To switch, all you have to do is call the retailer who has the plan you want to switch to and they will do the rest.
See switch retailers or plans for more details.
With the new Smart Meters, there's no need for someone to come out and read your meter. You'll probably only notice the change when your new, cheaper bill arrives!
Concessions and rebates
If you have a Centrelink Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Veterans' Affairs Gold Card you are probably eligible for government discounts (called 'concessions') on bills. To apply, simply call your energy company and tell them your card details.
See concessions and rebates for more information.
Remember to make sure the name and address on your card is exactly the same as the details your energy bill and to keep your retailer up to date if you change addresses.
It's also good to check that you are receiving your concession every time your bill arrives.
Eligible Victorian concession card holders can get a $100 Whitegoods Rebate when purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator or washing machine. See Sustainability Victoria.
Contact your retailer
It's worth calling your current gas and electricity retailer to check that you are getting the best deal. They may also be able to help you with a payment plan if you need assistance paying your bill.
See Energy Retail Companies – contact list.
It's not hard to make some small changes at home to reduce your energy bill. Here are some simple ways to start:
- Heat or air-condition only the rooms you are using and shut doors, windows and curtains
- In winter, set your heater thermostat to no more than 20 degrees
- In summer, use a fan or set your air-conditioner to 26 degrees
- Set your refrigerator to 4 degrees and your freezer to minus 18 degrees
- Shower for only 4 minutes or less and make sure you have a low-flow shower head installed.
For more energy-saving tips, see our top 10 ways to save energy.
What if I can't afford to pay?
Call your energy company, explain your situation and ask how they can assist you. Energy retailers have a legal obligation to help you out. They may offer you more time to pay, a plan to pay the bill off over a longer period or other help.
If you have an outstanding bill that you cannot pay, you might be eligible for the Utility Relief Grant, which is a grant to cover a temporary financial crisis.
What if I have a problem with my energy company?
If you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve your problem with your retailer, call the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) on 1800 500 509.