How to avoid these winter energy pitfalls
The start of winter can also mean the start of higher energy use and pricey electricity bills!
However there are many ways in which you can take the sting out of electricity prices through smart energy use and power saving measures.
Tim Wolfenden from Make It Cheaper, an electricity comparison service, recommends using common sense when it comes to energy use around the home.
"We're using more lighting in our homes and the days are getting colder so we're using more heating, whether it's gas heating or electric heating, underfloor or air conditioning units," said Mr Wolfenden.
"These costs add up so if you're in a big house you don’t need all the rooms heated, make sure you shut the doors on the rooms you don’t want to heat. Make sure you set the heating appliance you're using not to make the house roasting, but a comfortable temperature."
Mr Wolfenden also recommends talking to your electricity retailer to see if you can negotiate a cheaper deal.
He says that many people do not ask enough for a cheaper deal from their retailer as in society we haven't formed the habit of doing so.
This is compared to other transactions where we're prepared to shop around and negotiate, such as buying a television or a washing machine where that's seen simply as part of making the purchase, whereas in the electricity industry that kind of negotiating is not yet as common.
"Because the electricity services in Australia have been considered such an essential service, consumers have not considered that it is their right and opportunity to negotiate a more competitive deal, but it absolutely is," said Mr Wolfenden.
Mr Wolfenden commented that there are deals out there to be negotiated with retailers because they want to keep their customers and attract new ones - and if you don't ask, you don't get.
"All you have to do is call your current retailer, say that you're looking at the cost of your electricity bill, can you give me any discounts? Simple as that," said Mr Wolfenden.
He also suggests seeking advice from electricity retailers on what kinds of rebates and assistance are available from the government, and what are the qualifications for this. For example, war veterans, pensioners, low-income and unemployed individuals may be qualified for extra government assistance with their electricity bills.
Posted by Matthew Cole