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Dreading your next power bill?

Every dollar counts 171 6014693 0 14101793 300

You're not alone.

Between 2009 and 2013, the cost of an average household electricity bill accelerated by 70 per cent while inflation only increased by 12 per cent, according to the Fair Pricing for Power report from the Grattan Institute.

The swelling of electricity prices has had a very real effect on Australians, and the statistics paint a dark picture - nearly a third of Australians had missed electricity bill payments in the 12 months prior to October 2014, according to a study by Ernst & Young. Furthermore, one in 10 respondents had missed 3 or more payments.

It is a common perception that electricity in Australia is cheaper than in other countries worldwide, but according to a report from the Energy Users Association of Australia, this discernment is false. Their research established that electricity Down Under is more expensive than most of the other major developed countries, including Japan, the EU, USA and Canada.

If you are struggling to pay your bills, here are some simple steps you can take, courtesy of the government's Moneysmart initiative.

The cost of electricity in Australia is rising faster than inflation.The cost of electricity in Australia is rising faster than inflation.

Compare energy suppliers

There are a number of energy suppliers in the market, and finding the right one can be nigh on impossible. Talk to the team at Make It Cheaper, who will do the job for you completely free. Their experts will compare electricity prices from Australia's leading energy suppliers to ensure you're getting a fair deal. They'll even set you up on the new rates, making your life as easy as possible.

Communicate

One of the first things you should do is get in touch with your provider. It is their job to keep you satisfied, and as such they should be able to help set up a scheme to pay your bill in convenient instalments. You can also talk to a financial counsellor who can help solve your money problems. The service is free, confidential and is offered Australia-wide at community organisations, community legal centres and some government agencies.

Be energy efficient

Even small changes to household habits and behaviour, like turning off appliances at the wall or closing doors so you're only heating the room you're in, can result in vast savings. If you have the money to invest, look at buying energy-efficient lighting and appliances as it will be worth it in the long run. For example, the South Australian government found that the average cost of lighting your home using classic incandescent bulbs is about $1.68 per hour - as opposed to just $0.37 per hour with compact fluorescent bulbs.

Posted by Richard West

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