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Struggling to pay your power bill? No power disconnections until July
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By MyBudget Editor

The Australian Energy Regulator has stepped in to help millions of Australians who will be worried about keeping up with electricity and other power bills this winter in light of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve also included a range of energy saving tips.

The role of the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is to oversee the wholesale and retail energy markets and networks, and ensure that the appropriate laws and rules are being followed. Working with state and federal governments, the AER has announced a number of measures to support people who may be struggling to pay their bills due to the impact of the coronavirus.

No disconnections and other leniency

The most important measure to note is that energy providers will not be disconnecting homes or businesses for not meeting payments until at least July 31. Other measures include:

  • Making it is easier for people to qualify for a payment plan or hardship arrangement. This usually means paying your bill in smaller amounts more regularly, as well as potential access to government support. You can find out more here.
  • No debt collections until at least 31 July
  • Modifying existing payment plans if a customer’s situation has changed
  • Prioritising the safety of customers who require life support equipment, which includes equipment, such as oxygen concentrators, dialysis machines, ventilators and more. See the full list here.

It doesn’t mean you can ignore your power bills

These new measures don’t mean that you can ignore your power bills, but it does mean you’ll experience more leniency than usual when it comes to putting payment plans and hardship arrangements in place.

To apply for hardship or explore your options, you’ll need to contact your energy provider to explain your situation and ask for help. Although the power company can’t technically disconnect you until July 31, it’s always better to have an affordable arrangement in place than to defer the pain until later.

To understand what sort of payment arrangement would be affordable, create a household budget or contact MyBudget to request a free budget appointment. As well as designing a detailed budget for you, we can also help with prioritising your bills and explaining what other financial assistance measures may be available.

Lastly, if you’ve seen a hit to your income or a significant rise in bills due to more people being at home, you might be asked to prove it, in which case be prepared with relevant documentation. Most of all, stay calm when contacting your energy provider and have the confidence that you’re backed up by the AER.

Keep your power bills down

With winter around the corner, social distancing and work-from-home measures in place (and no clear end in sight!), it’s likely that your power bills will go up. With that in mind, here are some energy saving tips that aim to keep you comfy while also saving money:

  • Bathroom: Limit your showers to just four minutes.
  • Washing clothes: The ‘eco’ button on your washing machine lowers energy and water consumption. While you’re at it, wash on cold and line dry your clothes instead of using the tumble dryer.
  • Lights: Swap any incandescent bulbs over to LED and remember to switch off lights when you leave the room.
  • Kitchen: Your fridge doesn’t need to be on the coldest setting. If it’s getting frosty at the back, turn it down.
  • Devices: Switch off appliances at the wall to reduce power. It’s a habit to leave our devices plugged in to charge. Once they’re at full power, turn them off at the wall.
  • Heating: A thermostat setting of 18-20°C is recommended for keeping heating bills under control. Remind your kids to put on jumpers and tracksuit pants when they’re wearing shorts and complaining about being chilly!
  • Entertainment: Find a show the whole family can enjoy so you’re not streaming on multiple devices.
  • Check your energy contract: Some retailers offer reduced tariffs for using energy at off-peak times. If that’s the case, use your dishwasher and washing machine overnight.
  • Switch providers: When was the last time you compared energy retailers? Switching energy plans is a great way to save money on your bills.

Other financial assistance measures

Have you lost your job or are you wondering which financial assistance programs you can access? We provide a range of free resources on the MyBudget Blog and are constantly adding more to keep our readers in the loop.

Lost your job or income? We’ve created a step-by-step checklist to help you create a workable plan.

Need financial assistance? Read about all of the major financial assistance measures for individuals.

Food shopping on a budget? We spill the beans on health-enhancing, budget-wise meal planning.

Kids in child care? Here’s what we know about accessing free child care during the pandemic.

We’ll get through this together

For more money saving tips like these, and advice on government support available, subscribe to the MyBudget Blog and follow us on Facebook.

We’re now also offering free budget consultations over the phone. The customised budget we create is yours to keep and will give you a detailed view of your finances so you know exactly how much money you need to survive and pay your bills. For more information, contact MyBudget on 1300 300 922 or enquire online.

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