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Seniors' guide to energy saving

Manage energy bills

Two women paying bills

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Unexpectedly high energy bills can be stressful. There are options to better manage energy payments and ensure you’re getting the best deal for your circumstances. Check our information on electricity and gas market offers to see what's available.

Refer to Resources and assistance at the end of this guide for organisations that may be able to help with energy billing and more.

Offers and contracts

Depending on where you live, you may have a choice of which energy retailer to use. Even if you only have one retailer in your area, there are many energy offers available. Choosing the most suitable offer can be difficult, so understanding how and when you use energy is useful.

Contracts that reward off-peak energy use may result in savings if you can move activities such as washing and cooking to these periods. However, this may increase your costs if you need to run heating and cooling systems at peak times. If you choose a contract that doesn’t suit your household or lifestyle you could end up paying more.

Before agreeing to a contract, read the terms and conditions. Asking a friend or family member to review the details can be helpful.

There are laws in place for customer protection on energy matters. The retailer must provide a printed summary of any contract. The energy price fact sheet must include the following:

  • all prices and charges
  • early termination payments and penalties
  • date and duration of the contract
  • billing and payment information
  • your rights and obligations

After agreeing, you can change your mind within 10 business days without penalty.

Bill problems

If your energy bill seems wrong, your retailer must review it if requested. If you're still not satisfied, contact the energy ombudsman in your state or territory. An ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution service, a full list is provided at the end of this guide, or you can get more information from the Australian Energy Regulator online or buy calling 1300 585 165. The EnergyMadeEasy website also has a range of information to assist if you have a complaint or are experiencing difficulties.

To ease financial stress you can have smaller amounts regularly deducted by your retailer rather than receive a large quarterly bill. If receiving a Centrelink payment, the Centrepay service is available to make regular payments towards your energy bills.

If unable to pay your bill on time, contact your retailer to discuss options on how they can help. Their hardship policy outlines the options available. You may be able to delay payments or pay your bill off in smaller amounts.

If you receive a disconnection notice from your retailer, contact them immediately to discuss your options. You should not be disconnected during a protected period, such as a weekend or public holiday. People registered as depending on a life-support system have further protections from disconnection.

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