2nd August, 2017 | 4 minutes

Nine out of ten Aussie households are worried about winter energy bills

by Laura Crowden
iSelect Corporate Affairs Manager

Almost one in five households are in debt or on hardship programs due to energy costs. 

We recently released the results of a national Galaxy Research study which suggests that nine out of ten Australian households are concerned about their upcoming winter energy bill. This figure equates to over 7.4 million households around Australia feeling the energy pinch this winter.

The Galaxy Survey, commissioned by iSelect to assess the attitudes and behaviours of Australians towards winter energy affordability , revealed that an extra half a million households (or an additional 5 per cent of homes) are likely to be concerned about their winter energy bill as compared to 2016 figures .

Laura Crowden, iSelect spokesperson, said it was concerning but not surprising that more and more Australian households are struggling with rising energy costs.

“Our latest research shows that more Australian households are worried about their energy bill this winter than last year, no doubt partly due to the latest price hikes in July which will see customers in NSW, South Australian and parts of Queensland paying up to 20 per cent more .”

Almost 70 per cent of Aussie households surveyed believe their energy bills have increased in the last 12 months with less than a quarter of respondents saying they are able to pay their energy bills easily.

Laura said energy bills are traditionally their highest in winter, with energy-hungry appliances like heaters and electric blankets working longer and harder to keep households warm during the colder months.

“With homes shivering through another cold winter, it’s concerning that over 6 million (73 per cent) of households may be using their home’s heating less due to concerns about energy costs.”

“And it’s not just heating, our study suggests that many households are also cutting back on essentials like food and clothing to afford their energy bills,” said Laura.

Energy prices may also be impacting the economy more broadly with 50 per cent of households surveyed dining out less to budget for their energy costs and a further 43 per cent cutting back on holidays.

Of even more concern is that over 2.2 million households (27 per cent) may even be cutting back on groceries to pay their energy bills, an increase of 10 per cent on 2016 figures.

“These figures confirm our beliefs that Aussies are struggling more and more with energy prices and are having to cut back around the home in order to pay their energy bills,” Laura explained.

“Although reducing your energy use or finding ways to cut back on other costs can make it easier to manage your energy bills, for many households it may just be a ‘Band-Aid’ solution.”

Despite making cut-backs, almost one in five Aussies still reported going into debt or being placed on a hardship program during the past 12 months as a result of rising energy bills.

Laura pointed out that while winter energy costs are clearly hurting Aussie households, just 13 per cent of homes surveyed had switched providers or plan in the last year to get a better deal.

“Thousands of households could be paying more than they need to for energy by not taking advantage of some of the generous introductory offers or discounts energy companies are offering to new customers.”

“It’s also important to match your billing cycle with your budget, with many providers offering monthly plans, pay-on-time discounts or bill smoothing to make your bills more predictable and help avoid dreaded ‘bill shock’ that comes with opening a larger than expected quarterly bill,” said Laura.

With so many options and offers currently available, Laura advised anyone concerned about winter energy costs to speak to an energy expert.

“By getting an understanding of your budget and energy usage patterns, they can talk you through the overwhelming variety of choices and find the most cost-effective plan available,” said Laura.

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In July 2017 iSelect commissioned a nationally representative consumer research study with Galaxy Research to assess the attitudes of over 1,100 Australians household decision makers towards energy affordability.

In July 2016 iSelect commissioned a nationally representative consumer research study with Galaxy Research to assess the attitudes of over 1,100 Australians household decision makers towards energy affordability.

Source: News.com.au, June 17 2017: http://www.news.com.au/finance/small-business/electricity-price-rises-locked-in-from-july-1-2017/news-story/0bad2dcddc1a3040c4abbf07d25cb7fc

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