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Nearly nine in 10 Aussies worried energy will soon become unaffordable

Australian householders are overwhelmingly concerned that they won’t be able to afford energy within three years, a national survey revealed.

A whopping 87 per cent of Aussies said they were worried about the affordability of their future energy bills, according to data collected by Energy Consumers Australia in June 2022. That was compared with 81 per cent who said the same at the beginning of the energy crisis in April 2022.

Additionally, 94 per cent of households believed energy would soon become unaffordable for the wider community, up from 91 per cent in April.

In the same survey, 61 per cent of householders rated their electricity provider positively for value for money over the six months to mid-June and 63 per cent rated their natural gas provider positively for value for money over the same period.

The results follow a tumultuous period for the energy market in which international events, extreme weather and unexpected coal-fired plant closures left consumers bearing the brunt of soaring wholesale costs.

Higher costs have already trickled though to default pricing caps in New South Wales, Victoria, south-east Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, which rose by more than $200 a year in some states at the beginning of this month. A number of retailers have also left the market entirely, while a larger portion have turned away new customers or told those on their books to find a better deal elsewhere.

Pricing concerns were just the tip of the iceberg, though, in terms of the survey results. According to Energy Consumers Australia, which is an independent group representing energy consumers, a significant portion of consumers were now questioning their confidence in Australia’s energy system too.

In the same survey, only 10 per cent of consumers believed the country’s energy system would be sufficiently resilient over the next three years, with the vast majority anticipating frequent power outages over the same period.

Blackout fears plagued homes and businesses in NSW and Queensland in June due to increased wholesale costs and demand following an unexpected cold snap. Energy customers in the two states were asked to reduce power usage during times of peak demand, which are typically 3pm-9pm, as a result.

The survey found that just 40 per cent of Australians were confident the energy market was working in consumers’ best interests long term.

Energy Consumers Australia surveys householders regularly to understand energy customers’ sentiments. A second survey is expected early next month and will reflect sentiment’s recorded during July 2022.

Compare Cheap Electricity Deals

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

What is Energy Consumers Australia?

Energy Consumers Australia is an independent organisation created by the Council of Australian Governments that “promotes the long-term interests of consumers with respect to the price, quality, safety, reliability and security of supply of energy services”.

The group publishes an Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey (ECCS) and Behaviour Survey once each year, in June and October respectively, which look at value for money with regard to electricity and natural gas, uptake of solar and electric vehicles and confidence in the market.

What should I do if I can’t afford my energy bill?

If you can’t afford to pay your energy bill the best thing to do is contact your provider and explain the situation. Here you can also talk to your retailer about its financial hardship program or any payment options it may have in place to help you manage your bills.

If you miss an energy bill payment and haven’t advised your retailer of your payment difficulties, your power won’t be immediately disconnected. You may receive a reminder notice with an additional late payment fee included though. Late payment fees are usually around $10-$12.

It’s important to remember that your provider is obligated under the National Energy Retail Law to make every effort to support you before resorting to disconnection. Energy is considered to be an essential service and disconnection should only be undertaken by your retailer as a last resort.


Image credit: Kmpzzz/Shutterstock.com

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