Energy costs can be a huge part of your living expenses, especially at the height of winter and summer. Switching to a new gas or electricity plan can be the best way to save money. There are also some changes you can make around your home to cut your usage and bills.
Compare and save
With 16 energy retailers in Victoria, the energy market is very competitive. Make sure you have the best energy deal by going to Victorian Energy Compare. Enter some basic details about your energy consumption using your latest gas or electricity bill (or both) and you can quickly and easily compare flexible pricing and flat rate offers.
Nine out of 10 users of this tool were able to save money by finding a better deal, with 50% of users finding they could save more than $330 per year.
Concessions and rebates
See concessions and rebates to make sure you are getting the extra help that you are eligible for.
If you already receive a concession or rebate, make sure that switching retailers or plans doesn't affect it. Also, it's best to check to with your current retailer if you might be eligible for some additional help.
Remember to make sure that the name and address on your card is exactly the same as the details on 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 each time your bill arrives.
You can also get help when purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator or washing machine. The Whitegoods Rebate is $100 and is available to eligible Victorian concession card holders as a payment or loan. See Sustainability Victoria for details.
Other ways to save
It's easy to make some energy savings without spending much money. See our top 10 ways to save energy.
Home Energy Assist
The Victorian Government's Home Energy Assist Program (HEA) will see $17 million invested over four years to support 3,300 Victorian households who are most in need. This is the first step of our ongoing commitment to improve wellbeing for Victorians on low income through more affordable energy bills and more comfortable homes.
The three Home Energy Assist work streams each have different focuses, though all target low income households. Healthy Homes will focus on households with respiratory illnesses, Energy Smart Public Housing will focus on public housing tenants and Affordable Retrofits will focus on making larger upgrades affordable. Specific eligibility for each work stream will be announced as each program rolls out.
If you would like to learn more about these programs and to check whether your household may be eligible please visit the HEA program page.
The Latrobe Valley Home Energy Upgrade Program will deliver solar installations and energy upgrades to up to 1,000 vulnerable households in Latrobe City, Wellington & Baw Baw local government areas during 2017 and 2018.
The program aims to reduce energy bills for local households, while boosting jobs in the region by engaging local businesses to deliver energy efficiency assessments and upgrades using local products and services.
If you would like to learn more about this program or to register your interest please visit the Latrobe Valley Authority web page.
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.
Before ringing your retailer, decide what type of assistance you need and what payment amount and schedule you can afford. Make sure you are realistic about what you can afford to pay.
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.
Case study: Sam, disability pension and weekly homecare help
Sam is on a disability pension and housebound. A carer comes in several days each week to assist with cleaning, laundry and yard maintenance.
Sam receives the Annual Energy Concession on his bills. Sam's health necessitates that his house remain at a steady temperature throughout winter and summer, which means he also receives the Medical Cooling Concession.
Sam can go to Victorian Energy Compare to check whether his current gas and electricity deal is the best deal for him. He will be able to compare between flexible pricing and flat-rate plans for electricity. For Sam, it's very important that he talk to his current retailer, and any retailer he aims to switch to, to make sure he keeps both of his concessions.
As Sam doesn't have access to the internet he could consider asking a family member, friend or neighbour to help him access the information.