Two-thirds of Aussies worried they’re being overcharged on energy bills – how you can take power into your own hands
Is your energy provider wrongly charging you too much for your usage? If you think this is the case you’re not alone, two thirds (63 percent) of consumers believe their energy company could be making big flaws with their invoice and adding inaccurate costs to their bill.
With a large proportion of customers potentially shelling out more for their electricity and gas usage, it is up to the consumer to take the power into their own hands, from comparing quarterly costs to fixing an issue with their energy provider.
Leading energy comparison service econnex.com.au helps consumers’ views around their energy bills.
Many consumers are feeling the pinch and believe the costs of their power bills should drop. Over a third (37 percent) think rates should be at least 20 percent lower.
A further quarter (28 percent) think to compare energy rates should drop 30 percent lower. For example, an energy user on a single tariff plan with a quarterly usage cost of around $251 could enjoy a savings of $75.
Incredibly, one in ten (11 percent) Aussies said their energy bill added up to $500 a quarter.
A spokesperson for Econnex Adam says consumers must question the total charges listed on their bill and get up to speed on the standard information included, such as tariffs and extra fees, to unlock savings.
Since January 1, some energy retailers lowered their standing offer prices, with families and small businesses on these types of plans receiving an automatic discount of up to 15 percent off their bill.
On top of this, providers can now offer a discount for concession customers, shaving 10 – 15 percent off usage charges.
“Don’t miss out on savings because you didn’t read your bill properly or were too complacent to find better value discounts out there. If you find you’re paying far too much for your energy, shop around and see if you can receive a more competitive rate. Comparison services such as Econnex are an easy way to review your options and find a cheaper energy deal. We can help you cut costs for your household through switching to a better plan,” Adam explains.
Econnex shares tips on how consumers can confidently speak up about incorrect energy charges or issues:
How do you escalate a complaint?
As soon as you can, contact your energy provider to explain your issue and the outcome you would like. In a lot of cases, a phone call can fix the problem. This only applies to the primary account holder otherwise; the provider won’t be able to speak to you.
If you’re not happy with the answer, you can ask to speak to a manager or even put your concerns in writing – that way, your energy retailer would be aware of your problem and what you want out of this. You also now have a record of your complaint.
If you are still having issues resolving the problem, you can also contact the energy ombudsman scheme in your area. They can offer free, independent services to help resolve the problem.
How can I speak to my retailer confidently if I believe I’ve been overcharged?
If you believe your power bill is too expensive, before reaching your provider, inquire yourself the following questions:
– Was more energy used in this particular billing period by you?
(such as an increase in air-con or heater usage due to the weather or having extra guests)
– Was this bill an estimate of the amount of energy you have currently used?
– Did you owe any outstanding amount from the previous billing period?
– Were you informed about the hike in energy prices by your retailer?
Speak to your energy provider immediately if you are doubtful as to why your energy bill has risen in cost. Speak calmly and have your bill in front of you and even a couple of examples from previous quarters to compare the costs.
If you still need help in paying your bill, ask if there are any flexible payment options (such as a payment plan) as well as other assistance that you could use to help out. Remember, loyalty doesn’t always pay.
Comparison services such as Econnex help review multiple energy providers to see if you could switch to receive a more competitive rate for the same energy usage.
How often does my energy provider read my meter?
Energy distributors are different from your energy provider – they are the people who look after your gas and electricity meters.
They will come to your place of residence to read your meters and must do this at least once every 12 months to ensure you are only paying for the energy you use.
Smart meters, on the other hand, are a little different as they record how much electricity is used for a household or business at regular intervals during the day and then send these readings off (electronically) to your energy distributor directly.
This means no one comes to your house to read your meter and you can learn a lot about how much electricity you use day-to-day.
What questions should I ask if I’m unsure of how much I’m paying for my energy usage?
When you’re ready to investigate whether you’re being overcharged for your energy usage, think about asking your provider the following questions:
– When was the billing period? (The time in which you used the energy you’re being charged for)
– When was the meter reading completed?
– How much am I charged per kilowatt-hour?
– What is the supply charge for the billing period? (This is a fixed amount for supplying your household with energy and isn’t based on how much energy you use)
– What other fees and charges are being applied?
– Am I entitled to any discounts, concessions or rebates?
Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to understand how your bill is calculated to see if you’re being stung by any extra costs.