BILL SHOCK: 62% of households report increased power bills

THE Fraser Coast is bracing for an expensive summer with energy bills on the rise for the majority of Queensland households. 

Forty-four per cent of Queensland households have experienced 'bill shock' after their last energy bill was higher than expected, with 62 per cent of Queensland households reporting that their energy bills have increased over the past twelve months.

Fraser Coast residents are encouraged to review their current energy contract to ensure they are on the most cost effective plan ahead of summer.

Energy comparison service iSelect released the results of a national Galaxy Research study assessing the attitudes and behaviours of Australians towards energy affordability1.

Have you experienced a shock on your power bill?

This poll ended on 01 December 2015.

Yes, I've noticed a huge increase in my power bill - 74%

No, I haven't really noticed much of a difference - 25%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

iSelect's top 5 summer energy saving tips

1. Set the air-conditioner above 23 degrees: 23-25 degrees is comfortable while keeping costs down. Every extra degree can increase energy consumption by around 10 per cent
2. Use fans: fans only cost 2c per hour to run and are a good alternative to air conditioning. They cool the temperature by 2-3 degrees and can move around the home with you
3. Keep the cool air in and the hot air out: close curtains, blinds and awnings early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Open windows in the evening to let cool breezes in.
4. Turn off while on holiday: don't leave appliances running while you are away on holidays - turn off hot water systems, phones, televisions & computers.
5. BBQ: using the oven or stove on hot days will only heat up the house further. Instead, head outside & BBQ.

What are you top tips for saving on your power bill? Join the conversation below. 

The survey also found that 23 per cent of Queensland households are having to cut back on other areas in order to pay their energy bills with the survey suggesting around 135,000 Queensland households have been on a hardship program during the past 24 months.

Low income households and renters are finding it most difficult to pay their energy bills and households with children are more likely to be cutting back in other areas to meet energy costs.

Laura Crowden, iSelect spokesperson, said it was concerning that eight per cent of Queenslanders have put their energy bills on credit cards despite being unable to pay off the balance at the end of the month while eight per cent had gone into debt for more than a month due to energy bills.

Laura said with an above-average summer forecasted, it is likely many Fraser Coast households will continue to feel the heat when it comes to energy bills this summer.

"Most of us are prepared for large winter energy bills but higher than expected bills during summer can often take us by surprise," Laura said.

"Keeping air-conditioners running around the clock and the extra energy consumed by Fraser Coast kids at home using TVs, computers and air-con during the school holidays can result in summer energy bill shock."

Queensland households nominated the ability to pay energy bills in installments - which helps avoid bill shock - as the most important factor apart from price when choosing an energy provider.  Solar power options and customer service were also important to Queensland households.

When faced with a higher than expected energy bill, 9 per cent of Queensland households have proactively switched plans or providers in the last 24 months in search of a better deal but an alarming 49 per cent have simply done nothing at all suggesting many Queensland residents are paying more than they need to. 

Laura said while it was encouraging that 12 per cent of Queensland households compared energy providers or plans in the last 2 years, not everyone has embraced the opportunities offered by increased retail energy competition. 

"Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to use a comparison website to compare energy plans and providers while those in capital cities are twice as likely to shop around online for a better energy deal as regional Australians."

"The same goes for homeowners and renters, with tenants less likely to use a comparison website to compare energy providers and plans than homeowners," said Laura.

Topics:  fraser coast power bills queensland

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