What can households and businesses do to reduce energy bills?
I know that many people in Indi are anxious about their energy bills, with the costs of electricity and gas charged to consumers increasing.
There are a range of measures you can take to ensure you are saving money on your energy bills, including rebates, concessions and discounts from government, as well as ways to reduce usage and increase efficiency.
Concessions and rebates
The following information is accurate for people living in Victoria. If you live outside Victoria, this information may not apply to you.
Energy Bill Relief Fund for households
There is $250 in energy bill relief for households where the primary electricity account holder, or another household member named on the account, is a recipient/holder of an eligible concession card.
The $250 rebate will be provided in periodic installments on bills during 2023-24. You do not need to apply for this payment.
Concession card holders can access the Victorian Annual Electricity Concession, which provides a 17.5% reduction in electricity use and service costs. This concession should be directly applied by your electricity retailer. If you don’t see it on your bill, give your retailer a call to provide them with your Pension Card, Health Care Card or Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card details. The excess electricity concession and controlled load electricity concession are also available for households using very high amounts of electricity or with a controlled load.
Information about other concessions, including for life support, medical cooling and winter gas concession is available here.
Help with paying bills
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, help is available.
You should contact your energy company first and ask to speak to their hardship team. This team will be able to discuss your assistance options, such as paying smaller amounts more often or delaying the payment of a bill. Anyone with an active payment assistance plan can’t be disconnected or be followed for debt. It’s important that you contact your company if you are having trouble paying your bills. More information about your rights and who to speak to is available here.
The National Debt Helpline offers financial counselling related to energy bills. More information can be found here.
Reducing energy use
There are ways to reduce energy use and be more efficient in energy use without needing to compromise on keeping cool in Summer or warm in Winter.
Saving money with more efficient appliances
Significant savings can be achieved by replacing older, inefficient appliances with new, more efficient household goods such as ovens, dishwashers and fridges.
In some cases, Government assistance is available to reduce the upfront costs of new appliances, which are more efficient and will help you save money.
Grants and rebates are also available for you to upgrade to water-saving shower heads.
The Victorian Energy Upgrades program is also available to households, seeking to reduce power bills while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
All households and some businesses in Victoria are eligible for rebates or discounts on energy-saving products.
Saving money through renewable energy
Solar panels and household batteries could save your household on energy bills.
Solar panel rebates of up to $1,400 plus the option of an interest-free loan are available for existing homes and homes under construction.
Eligible rental providers can also apply for an interest-free loan of up to $1,400 to further reduce the upfront cost of the solar panel system.
You can read more and apply here.
Access loans to take up renewables
Did you know that some banks in Australia offer ‘Green Loans’?
Most Australian banks offer dedicated lower interest green loans, in various forms. Some banks, such as the Commonwealth Bank, also offer no interest green loans. Green loans can be used to finance projects such as:
- solar panel and battery installation
- Sustainable heating or cooling systems
- Insulation and double glazing
- Energy-efficient appliances
- Electric vehicles and electric vehicle chargers
- Purchasing, building or refinancing an energy-efficient home
Cheaper mortgages are also offered by some major lenders for homes that meet high energy efficiency standards. I encourage you to ask your bank about whether you are eligible.
Supporting and electrifying small businesses
The Small Business Energy Incentive will provide businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million, an additional 20 per cent deduction on spending that supports electrification and more efficient use of energy.
Financial counselling to help manage energy bills
These are really challenging times and counselling support is available if you need someone to speak with.
The Victorian Government’s Financial Counselling Program provides free, independent and confidential counselling sessions to support people experiencing financial hardship, including managing energy bills. Sessions can be done via phone or face-to-face.
National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007
Read more about financial counselling services available or find a financial counsellor near you here.
My office is available to support you in reducing the cost of your energy bills and reducing emissions, you can contact me on email@example.com.