May 17, 2020

Electricity bill shock in store as coronavirus and cold weather bites

Electricity bill shock in store as coronavirus and cold weather bites

With all six family members of Amy Pytchin’s family working and learning from her Dubbo home due to coronavirus restrictions, electricity consumption has gone through the roof.

“We’re definitely expecting our next bill to be higher than usual,” Ms Pychtin said.

“We’re running multiple computers, devices and chargers all at once.

“We’re trying to switch off lights and open blinds, and put on jumpers instead of heaters.”

The Pychtin family currently has four children and two adults working from home.(Supplied: Amy Pychtin)

Put a jumper on, now

Energy retail boss Domenic Capomolla said the Pychtins were not alone.

He estimated households were consuming 40 per cent more electricity each day than was typical for this time of year.

“This May has had a colder start and there have been a lot of people at home that wouldn’t normally be using heating and appliances all day long,” Mr Capomolla, chief executive of Tango Energy, said.

Mr Capomolla said households needed to curb usage now to avoid bill shock.

Electricity bill shock in store as coronavirus and cold weather bites
Steven Cassell puts money away each fortnight to ensure he can pay his quarterly electricity bill.(Supplied: Steven Cassell)

Discounts help

Preparing for quarterly power bills is crucial for Steven Cassell, from Molong.

The disability pensioner and his wife spend much of their time at home.

Each fortnight Mr Cassell pays $150 to his electricity retailer so his account is always in credit.

When his bill arrives, he pays the outstanding amount immediately and is rewarded with a 30 per cent discount.

“We can’t let our bills get out of control and this works really well for us.”

Beware of estimates

Due to social distancing requirements, many electricity retailers have stopped reading meters in person, instead, opting to estimate customers’ usage based on past consumption patterns.

Tambar Springs farmers Grahame and Noni Pryor urged others not to “blindly” pay bills based on estimates.

“Estimates can result in stupidly high consumption figures — in our experience — 20 to 30 per cent over what you’ve actually used,” Mrs Pryor said.

Mrs Pryor said consumers should photograph their own metres where it’s not possible for the retailer to do so.

“It’s frustrating having to phone the retailers and correct the bill but you shouldn’t let anyone charge you for a good or service that you simply didn’t receive,” she said.

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