Shopping around and installing solar panels – tips to fight rising energy prices in 2018

Canstar Blue reports on rising energy pricesCanstar Blue

Rising energy prices are a fact of life, but residents may be able to save more than $300 a quarter on power bills just by shopping around. You can save even more by installing solar panels.

Research by the Central Western Daily revealed drastic price variations, with one electricity retailer offering both lowest and highest prices.

The news site compared 58 energy plans for a family in Orange with a medium daily power usage of 16.1 kW.

Prices varied from $458 to $790 for the same amount of power, depending on the retailer and the plans offered.

The difference was even larger for a family with high daily power usage (24.2 kW). Costs ranged from $646 to $1,113 – a gap of $467.

Tips to reduce your electricity bills

There are still more ways to combat electricity price hikes and lower your bills. The most effective are:

  • Cutting back on home usage;
  • Using appliances during the day at off-peak times;
  • Switching to a cheaper retailer; and
  • Installing a rooftop solar system.

Many appliances are still using power when not in use unless they are switched off at the wall. These include televisions, computers and DVD players.

A simple test is to check if a DC power supply to a laptop or tablet feels warm even when the device is not in use. If it is,  then the power supply is using electricity.

Using appliances like washing machines and dishwashers during the day means you are paying a lower tariff on power. If you have solar power, it makes sense to take advantage of it by using these appliances during the day.

Rising energy prices are a financial concern to many Australians. Installing solar panels may save dollars.

Rising energy prices are a financial concern to many Australians.

Devices that measure how many watts a device is using can also show you where the power-hungry culprits are.

Switch to a cheaper retailer

The recent requirements by electricity retailers to reveal cheaper plans to customers should help consumers get a better deal.

According to Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes, consumers must also be proactive to get  these lower rates by negotiating with suppliers.

“Retailers would rather keep you as a customer and make a bit less money from you than not have you as a customer at all,” he said.

The Australian Energy Regulator is also encouraging demand management deals between consumers and retailers. These are where consumers agree to reduce energy use in peak demand times for a reduction in their power price.

Installing solar panels and making your own electricity

Solar systems are becoming more affordable, with electricity providers offering customers incentives that can reduce prices for installing solar panels. Batteries keep stored solar energy for use at night, further lowering bills.

The Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target scheme issues certificates to eligible solar installations. These small-scale energy certificates (STCs) are in effect an upfront subsidy at installating solar panels.

In addition, local councils around Australia offer ‘bulk buy’ programs which give financial support to households looking to install solar.

Combined these approaches to cutting power costs are helping households save money in a market where electricity prices continue to increase.