Your checklist to keeping electricity bills under control in lockdown

With ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’ well and truly in the rear-view mirror, millions of Aussies have now learned to live their best lives in a post-COVID-19 world. But snap lockdowns and ongoing restrictions has meant that many of us are spending more time at home, wreaking havoc on household budgets, particularly energy costs. In fact, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed a 10 per cent spike in power usage for households last year. This comes as no surprise given 2020 was a year many would prefer to forget.

Fast forward to today and some regions are expected to remain locked down in some capacity until at least Christmas. As a result of these lockdown measures – albeit as a means to keep the wider community safe – people may experience a nasty surprise of energy bill shock.

Cutting back on electricity usage during this time can be difficult, and bills can easily skyrocket with more working from home and kids not in school. So, we’ve put together a list of seven handy tips to help you lower your lockdown energy bills.

If there’s just one tip you’re looking for, feel free to click on the tab below and skip ahead. Otherwise, keep scrolling for the full checklist.

  1. Understand your energy usage
  2. Check usage and supply rates
  3. Take advantage of time of use tariffs
  4. Look into a fixed rate
  5. Think about switching providers
  6. Consider seasonal effects on energy usage
  7. Look into energy concessions and rebates

1. Understand your energy usage

To be able to reduce your energy bill, you’ll need to identify which appliances and gadgets use the most amount of power in your home. By understanding how much energy each appliance consumes, it will become a lot easier to then pinpoint areas where you can make adjustments and save on running costs.

Smart meters and electricity usage monitors are great tools to use when measuring energy usage in your home. With monitoring software, not only will you be able to see what’s draining your electricity, you’ll also be able to keep track of your usage, which can be extremely helpful if you’re on a tight budget.

2. Check your usage and supply rates

Recent Canstar Blue research found that nearly half of Aussies don’t know how much their electricity usage and supply rates are. As the bare bones of any electricity plan, knowing what rates you’re being charged can be very beneficial when it comes to budgeting for your final bill. Plus, understanding how these rates work and comparing them to other plans and providers may help you find a cheaper deal.

For more information around what the average usage and supply rates look like in Australia, check out our what is a good rate for electricity page.

Or if you’re interested in seeing what usage and supply rates look like in your state, head to the relevant link below:

3. Take advantage of time of use tariffs

Energy meter in kilo-watt hours

Pre-pandemic it could be quite difficult to take full advantage of a time of use electricity tariff, especially considering that the off-peak and shoulder periods are typically in the middle of the day. But now with many of us working from home, there is an opportunity for these periods to be leveraged. With off-peak periods offering considerably lower usage rates than peak periods, it could be worth considering the savings these plans can offer. Or, if you’re part of the 41 per cent of Aussies who have no idea what tariff they are on, now might be the time to check! You could be costing yourself more money by running your dishwasher in the evening instead of the morning without even realising it!

Plus, for all you rooftop solar and battery customers out there, if you haven’t already, you may find it ideal to store your solar energy to use later and stay off the grid in times of peak demand.

4. Look into a fixed rate

While the majority of plans in the energy retail market have variable rates, there are still a few providers who offer fixed rate plans. Fixed rates offer the security of locking in your usage and supply charges for a set period of time (i.e. 12 or 24 months), depending on the contract. They can be ideal for those who wish to stay on a set budget too, as the price of your energy bill should only fluctuate based on your usage habits. If you’re finding that your energy usage is skyrocketing during lockdown, switching to a fixed rate plan may be worth looking into as prices, at least, will be guaranteed not to change during the stipulated contract period.

If you’re looking for an extended comparison between these two plan types, head to our which is better: fixed or variable electricity rates page.

5. Think about switching providers

A recent Canstar Blue survey revealed that only 46 per cent of Aussies think they are on a good electricity deal. This indicates that many households are simply paying too much and likely fed up with the prices their current provider is dishing out to them, especially in lockdown. If you haven’t changed plans in the past 12 months or you’re unhappy with the level of service and deals on offer from your provider, it may be time to switch. You could even snag a special deal or promotion when changing to a new provider.

If you’re keen to see what’s out there, below are some of the cheapest deals in NSW, QLD, SA and Victoria right now. For a greater view of what’s happening in your area however, it’s best to head to our comparison tool.

Compare Electricity Plans

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.

6. Consider seasonal energy usage

Given that lockdowns seem to be here to stay, it may be worth taking note of any extra power your household uses. Canstar Blue found that almost two in five Aussies encounter bill shock during winter, largely thanks to an increase in usage as well as appliances like clothes dryers, heating and hot water systems copping more of a workout. If you’re anxious about your next power bill, here are some quick tips on how to reduce your overall costs.

  • Wear warmer clothes to avoid using heaters
  • Dry your clothes on a clothesline as opposed to using a dryer
  • Clean the filters on your heater to allow for maximum efficiency
  • Cover hard wood floors with rugs for more warmth
  • Open blinds to let more sunlight in to help heat a room

For more information, visit our winter heating costs explained page.

7. Look into energy concessions and rebates

If you’re concerned about paying your energy bills during lockdown, there may be a few concessions and rebates you can look into, though eligibility requirements will apply. Each state and territory offer a unique COVID-19 energy or utility relief rebate for those doing it tough. To see what’s on offer in your state or if you’re eligible for one of these payments, head to your state or territories government site for more information.

If you’re struggling financially, you may also be eligible to be placed on a financial hardship payment plan through your retailer. Information on your energy retailer’s hardship policies can be found on its website but it’s best to pick up your phone and give your provider a call.


Image credit: Peterfz30/Shutterstock.com, EyeLights West/Shutterstock.com

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