Media Release: New initiative to help householders stay cool and keep energy costs down this summer

30 November 2020

Householders in Western Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne who are concerned about electricity costs can access support through a new initiative aimed at helping people save money on energy without sacrificing comfort this summer.

Electricity distributors CitiPower and Powercor have partnered with the Australian Energy Foundation (AEF), an independent for-purpose organisation focused on helping people access affordable and clean energy, to support customers in becoming more energy efficient during the hotter months.

The partnership provides people an opportunity to book a free phone consultation with one of the Foundation’s energy experts and receive tailored advice on how to make their home more efficient and comfortable.

While COVID restrictions have now significantly eased, recent statistics released by the Essential Services Commission of Victoria highlight the bill stress some customers are facing. ESC data shows that average debt for residential customers unable to pay for their ongoing usage has increased by 13 per cent since April to $1,588, while more than 3,200 calls were made to retailers from households seeking assistance.

AEF Chief Executive Officer Alison Rowe said: “Bills have become front and centre in Victoria as we needed to work from home through the pandemic. Before COVID-19, the costs associated with running a home office were invisible for many of us. However, this year has seen home-related energy bills increase dramatically. We want everyone to have flexibility, comfort and a low-cost home.”

While all household electricity use is unique, the AEF’s Energy Advice Service has supported thousands of households to make significant savings on their energy bills. AEF data shows replacing a downlight with an LED can reduce an annual bill by an estimated $100, draught proofing can lead to a $156 reduction and a hot water heat pump can deliver annual savings of $635.

The top five tips for improving energy efficiency are:
• Set your air conditioner to around 24 to 26 degrees. Depending on the size of your home, a one degree change can save 10% on cooling costs.
• Turn off appliances at the plug when you’re not using them. Standby power can account for more than 3% of your energy bill.
• Keep rooms shaded from the sun and heat with curtains or blinds.
• Use dishwashers or washing machines in the morning or at off-peak times in the evening.
• Air dry laundry rather than use clothes dryers.

CitiPower and Powercor General Manager Corporate Affairs, Joanne Pafumi, said this illustrates the simple and cost-effective actions customers can take this summer to be power smart.
“The COVID-19 lockdown experience has made people more conscious of energy costs and how much electricity they use in their home,” Ms Pafumi said.

“We know our customers use more electricity in summer time than any other season with more people now relying on air conditioning to stay comfortable. The free services offered by the AEF as part of our partnership is one way to help ensure they can have the power they need this summer at an affordable price.”

This year, there has been a big shift in consumption with homes in the Powercor network using at least 13% more power than they did last year as more people work and study from home. Based on the Victorian Government roadmap, these new consumption patterns are likely to continue throughout the summer.

Powercor is continuing to offer Victorian households and small businesses who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 environment the opportunity to defer network charges on their electricity bills.

The Network Relief Package is available to eligible customers until 31 January 2021 and applies to electricity bills issued to 27 February. To find out more, customers are encouraged to contact their energy retailer.

To talk to an AEF energy expert today, visit https://www.aef.com.au/for-home/citipower-powercor-bepowersmart-with-the-australian-energy-foundation/ or call visit call 1300 23 68 55.
For more information on how to reduce energy use, visit www.powercor.com.au/lineylessons/manage-costs/how-to-use-less-electricity/