Shocked by your power bill? What you can do.

 

Electricity Bill Shock

The Advertiser reported on the weekend that by 2014 the cost of electricity is set to increase by $702 for the average South Australian household.

While SA is anticipated to be one of the worst affected states, utility price rises are putting household budgets under extreme pressure all over the country. An increasing number of Australians are finding it difficult to pay their bills. So what should you do if you can’t pay yours?

Start by communicating with your utility provider. Contact the company and explain you’re having difficulty paying your bill. Ask the company to tell you about discounts, relief schemes and any other financial support services they provide.

Don’t ignore calls and letters from your utility provider. Your power can only be disconnected after the company has followed certain steps, but if you ignore their communications you may find that the process progresses without your knowledge.

Work out your household budget in advance so you know what sort of instalments you can afford. Your utility retailer will use a financial model which takes into account your other financial commitments and capacity to pay your bills, but you should be prepared in advance by doing your own calculations. Also look at the company’s website or ask their representative for information about their financial hardship policy.

It’s very important that you stick to the instalment plan you negotiate. If you break the plan, this may affect your ability to negotiate alternative payment arrangements in the future. Creating a workable, realistic budget is one of the most important keys to staying on track.

Lastly, fixed network charges will make up a sizeable proportion of your electricity bill, but you can still cut costs by being mindful about how you use power around your home. Check out my tips for reducing your power use at home.