Billing and payment help
If you're unable to pay your bill on time, contact your retailer to discuss options on how they can help. Their hardship policy outlines the options available. You may be able to delay payments or pay your bill off in smaller amounts.
If your energy bill seems wrong, your retailer must review it if requested. If you're still not satisfied, contact the energy ombudsman in your state or territory. An ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution service.
If you receive a disconnection notice from your retailer, contact them immediately to discuss your options. You should not be disconnected during a protected period, such as a weekend or public holiday. People registered as depending on a life-support system have further protections from disconnection. Some states and territories have announced a pause on disconnections during the COVID-19 emergency.
Energy retailers who are members of the Australian Energy Council (AEC) have announced that customers receiving hardship assistance will not be disconnected if they are unable to afford their energy bills. For customers in the hardship program, AEC members will pause any external debt collection and bankruptcy proceedings, and will not charge any late fees if these customers cannot pay on time.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has set reasonable expectations of energy companies to protect householders and small business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AER’s Statement of Expectations sets out a range measures, including:
- waiving any disconnection, re-connection and/or contract break fees for small businesses which have gone into hibernation, along with daily supply charges to retailers, during any period of disconnection until at least 31 July 2020
- offering all households and small businesses who indicate they may be in financial stress a payment plan or hardship arrangement
- not disconnecting customers who may be in financial stress, without their agreement before 31 July 2020 and potentially beyond
- deferring referral of any customer to a debt collection agency for recovery actions, or credit default listing until at least 31 July 2020 and potentially beyond
- minimising the frequency and duration of planned outages for critical works, and providing as much notice as possible to assist households and businesses to manage during any outage
Working from home and energy use
Many people will now be working from home, impacting on their home energy bills. We’ve put together some tips to manage your energy use and bills during this time. If you are concerned about your health and safety when working from home, COMCARE has detailed advice. The Australian Cyber Security Centre has advice on sound cyber security practices. Tips on how to avoid COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails is available from Stay Smart Online.
- Set your monitor to switch off/sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity.
- Reduce screen brightness to the lowest, visibly comfortable setting.
- Switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them as they use a substantial amount of power by constantly searching for a signal.
- Close any applications you’re not using.
- Ensure air vents on computer towers and laptops are kept clear and away from objects.
- Don’t use active or animated screensavers.
- Unplug any USB devices (like mice, keyboards, speakers and flash drives) when not in use.
- Switch off when you’ve finished using your device, or set a timer.
- If purchasing new equipment, look for the Energy Rating Label on all computer monitors—the more stars the better.
- Laptops, ultrabooks and notebooks use less energy than desktop computers and can be battery-operated for extended periods.
- Switch off chargers at the wall once charging is complete, and avoid charging overnight if you can.
- Reduce screen brightness and turn off live (animated) wallpapers to reduce battery drain.
- Switch off Bluetooth and GPS when you’re not using them as they use a substantial amount of power by constantly searching for signal.
- Use aeroplane mode where applicable
- Shorten the amount of time for the screen to turn off automatically—try 30 seconds.
- Delete unwanted apps. The more applications your smartphone has, the faster the power will drain.
- Set your notification alerts to check at 30 minute intervals (or longer) and close applications when you don’t need them. This can also make a big difference to your data usage.
- Turn off your printer, copier, scanner and multi-function devices when you are not using them.
- ‘Think before you print’ and opt for a printer that prints on both sides of the paper—saving both time and resources.
Heating and cooling
- Around 40% of home energy use can go on heating and cooling. Close off rooms not in use. Set your heating between 18°C and 20°C and your cooling between 25°C and 27°C.
- For every degree you increase heating and cooling, you increase energy use between 5% and 10%.
- Dress comfortably. You may need to look professional from the waist up for virtual meetings, but working from home means you can dress for the season.
COVID-19 health alert (Department of Health) Australian Government
COVID-19 (Australian Taxation Office) Australian Government
Retailers confirm support for energy customers Australian Energy Council (membership comprises 23 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses, covering 10 million homes and businesses)
Financial difficulty Australian Banking Association (membership comprises 22 banks from across Australia)
Energy and water ombudsman
ACT Energy and water. ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Call 02 6207 7740
NSW Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW. Call 1800 246 545
NT Ombudsman NT. Call 1800 806 380
Qld Energy & Water Ombudsman. Call 1800 662 837
SA Energy & Water Ombudsman SA. Call 1800 665 565
Tas Ombudsman Tasmania. Call 1800 001 170
Tas Energy Ombudsman Tasmania. Call 1800 001 170
Vic Energy and Water Ombudsman. Call 1800 500 509
WA Energy and Water Ombudsman. Call 1800 754 004
Information in community languages
Australian Government Department of Health resources about COVID-19 in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Chin Hakka, Farsi, Greek, Hazaragi, Italian, Korean, Kurdish, Spanish, Vietnamese.
Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services translated resources about COVID-19 in Amharic, Arabic, Assyrian, Bengali, Burmese, Cantonese, Chaldean, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Filipino/Tagalog, French, Greek, Gujarati, Hazaragi, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Kurmanji, Macedonian, Maltese, Mandarin, Nepali, Oromo, Pashto, Persian/Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Simplified Chinese, Sinhalese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Zomi.
Coronavirus information in your language - SBS in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Bangla, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hakha, Chin, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macedonian, Malayalam, Maltese, Mandarin, NepaliNITV, Radio, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese.
eSafety Commissioner online safety advice and resources in other languages in عربي (Arabic), Khmer (Cambodian), 简体中文 (Simplified Chinese), 繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese), درى (Dari), Thuɔŋjäŋ (Dinka), Tagalog (Filipino), ελληνικά (Greek), Hazaragi' हिंदी (Hindi), Italiano (Italian), Karen, 한국어 / 조선말 (Korean), Pacific Islands (English), ارسی (Persian), ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi), Soomaali (Somali), South Asian (English), Español (Spanish), தமிழ் (Tamil), ภาษาไทย (Thai), Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese), Türkçe (Turkish).
Information on how to save energy and water at home in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Filipino, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurmanj, Macedonian, Malay, Persian/Farsi, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Shona, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish, Sudanese, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.