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Households Struggle with High Bills as Energy-Saving Tips Are Difficult to Follow

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The Energy Consumers Australia survey underscores a growing demand for reliable guidance on energy-related matters. Almost half of Australian households distrust online energy-saving tips, leading to calls for a more trustworthy information hub.

In a recent Energy Consumers Australia survey (pdf), 48 percent of households could not recall seeing any online savings tips this year, suggesting a desire to save on energy use and bills, but a lack of trust in the energy market’s advice. Of households that did recall the tips, 61 percent said it was often too complex or irrelevant.

Energy Consumers Australia CEO Brendan French

Related Stories “Australians are not receiving the right information at the right time from trusted sources, and this is leaving them lacking the confidence to take action,” he said. The national survey of 2,500 household energy consumers aimed to understand where consumers were looking for information, who they trusted for information, and what barriers they faced.

89 Percent of Households Want to Reduce Energy Costs
Nevertheless, 89 percent of households still wanted to learn how to reduce their energy use and costs, with 84 percent very concerned about increased energy bills, and the general cost of living.

As a result, 81 percent of households took steps to reduce their energy use in the past 12 months. However, more than half of households have not taken action that can lead to better bang for buck. In fact, households had, on average, taken only 25 percent of the potential actions they could be adopting.

Energy Consumers Australia Engagement Manager Rebekah Thielemans weighed in. She suggested that, in addition to a one-stop shop, more options were needed. What Are the Barriers? She said the most trusted sources of information about ways to reduce energy bills are consumer advocacy organisations, the federal government and state and territory governments.

“Households reported that the main channels they’ve used to find out more about energy have been internet searches, family and friends, consumer advocacy organisations, and energy retailers,” Ms. Thielemans said. But, she said the information from these sources must be tailored. “Information campaigns can go some way to providing support for consumers, but they are only the tip of the iceberg of the support that consumers will need to manage the transition. Consumers require tailored help based on their needs, motivation, and abilities on a wide range of topics,” she said.

File photo of an online energy bill, dated Feb. 3, 2022. (Jacob King /PA Media)Increased Demand for Information The demand for improved energy-saving information comes as most energy consumers have grappled with bill debt since mid-2022.

Electricity bills have risen between 9 to 20 percent in all jurisdictions, impacting households already struggling with broader cost-of-living pressures.

About 52 percent of households worried more about energy affordability than a year ago.

Meanwhile, low-income consumers felt a higher cost burden at least double that of average-income earners.

The Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) “State of the Energy Market” report (pdf) found the energy system faced pressure to address energy affordability amid the net zero transition. AER Chair Clare Savage said consumer energy resources such as rooftop solar and small-scale batteries would help consumer affordability.

“With consumers front of mind, we’re also looking ahead to ‘game changer’ reforms to identify consumers experiencing vulnerability early, get them the support they need to improve outcomes, and better share the costs and risks of vulnerability more equitably across the energy sector,” she said.

Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Daniel Westerman also weighed in about ways to help consumers. He said planned investments in transmission, generation, and storage projects were critical to ensure Australian consumers continue to have access to reliable energy. Solar panels are seen on a roof in Caulfield, Melbourne, on Oct. 30, 2023. (Susan Mortimer/The Epoch Times)

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