Help Paying Utility Bills – Electric, Gas and Water Bills

help pay utility billsIt can be difficult when you can’t pay your utility bills because you don’t have enough spare money to go around.
Utility bills such as gas, water, electricity, and phone bills aren’t the easiest to budget for and unfortunately you don’t know how big they are until they arrive.

If you’re in this predicament, the following are some of the steps you can complete to help relieve some of the stress when your bills come in each month.

Learn how to get utility vouchers, subsidies and in some cases help paying overdue bills.

Contact Your Utility Provider (First step)
Instead of placing the bills on your credit card, the first step you should begin with is talking to your provider. If you’re having problems paying for your utility bills you need to express this to your provider. There are many utility providers which have hardship officers who are capable of helping you work out a specific payment plan to pay off your utility bills. They may also be able to help you send in an application for utility bill vouchers that can help to meet minimum required payments in an emergency situation.

If you find your utility provider isn’t helpful to your situation you can make a complaint to a utility ombudsman scheme that is associated with your state.


 
Apply For A Voucher Or Rebate
Utility vouchers and rebates are designed to help you pay off your utility bills. The following is a list of the different vouches that are available and where you can go to apply for them.

These can be one off vouchers or in some cases ongoing depending on your situation.

*For emergency help paying utility bills or keeping services from being shut down:
– Contact your service provider first
– Reach out to your free financial counsellor. They will be able to assist those in emergencies, as they will have relationships with the relevant organisations for assistance in your location.

Seek Help From A Financial Counsellor
Financial counsellors generally offer a confidential and free service to help you work out your money problems in a more organized manner. Financial counsellors can help you approach your utility provider to apply for rebates, vouchers or to work out a suitable payment plan. If you’re in a crisis or you require emotional support, it’s best to seek help from your local doctor or therapist.

Evening Out Your Bills Through Bill Smoothing
Bill smoothing is offered by some companies where you can easily make monthly or fortnightly payments towards your utility bills to help reduce the overall amount when the bill comes in at the end of the quarter. It’s important to ask your utility provider whether they can provide this service and how you can set it up.

For Centrelink customers, Centrepay is a bill-paying service which can regularly deduct a portion of your Centrelink payment for any expenses which are ongoing such as water, electricity, rent, and any other household costs. For more information, visit the Department of Human Services website and search for CentrePay.


 
AUSTRALA WIDE – REBATES AND VOUCHERS

Salvation Army – The Salvation Army is a community organisation, which brings hope to those who are less fortunate in life. They may be able to help provide vouchers to help with utilities for those who are struggling.

  • Phone: 13 72 58
  • Utilities help with: Gas and Electricity Bills

Advanced PaymentThe Advanced Payment service allows people collecting benefits to have the ability to gain access to get their next payment in advance. This is to help with any short falls that they may be dealing with at the moment.

  • Phone: 13 62 40
  • Utilities help with: All Utilities

Utilities Allowance – The utilities allowance is designed to help you meet the costs of your regular bills including water, gas, and electricity when you’re on certain Centrelink payments. This can help you through tough times in your current life.

  • Phone: 13 62 40
  • Utilities help with: Electricity, Sewerage Rates and Water Bills

Telephone Allowance – The telephone allowance is eligible for people who may receive certain income support payments. It helps to maintain your telephone and internet when you may not have sufficient funds.

  • Phone: 13 62 40
  • Utilities help with: Telephone Bills

Essential Medical Equipment Payment – The essential medical equipment payment is designed to help with additional costs of running medically required cooling or heating and medical equipment. This is in situations where temperature regulation is important.

  • Phone: 13 62 40
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Telstra Bill Assistance Program – This service may be able to help with paying with some of the costs associated with your Telstra phone bills. This service works with other community agencies to help provide help for those who are struggling.

  • Phone: 13 22 00
  • Utilities help with: Telephone Bills

Pensioner Discount – The pensioner discount service is for pensioners only. A discount may be given on a bill or service depending on the need and application.

  • Phone: 13 22 00
  • Utilities help with: Telephone Bills

STATE AND TERRITORY BASED UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE


 

Australian Capital Territory

Energy Concession – The energy concession is designed to cover both natural gas and electricity, and is calculated daily with fluctuating rate depending on the season. The account must be in the cardholder’s name and rebates will be available on the cardholder’s place of residence.

  • Actew AGL Retail – 13 14 93
  • Origin Country Energy – 13 24 61
  • Energy Australia – 13 34 66
  • Utilities hep with: Gas and Electricity Bills

New South Wales

Low Income Household Rebate – The Low Income Household Rebate is designed to help many eligible households to pay their electricity bills more effectively.

  • Phone: 1300 736 122
  • Utilities help with: Gas and Electricity Bills

Family Energy Rebate – The Family Energy Rebate is designed to help struggling families with dependent children to cover energy bill costs. Eligible families may have a credit of $150 placed on their energy bill if accepted.

  • Phone: 1300 736 122
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Financial Assistance – The Sydney Water financial assistance program is designed to help struggling families stay on top of their water bill by adding some relief through a variety of means including payment plans, rebates, and other beneficial assistance options.

  • Phone: 13 20 92
  • Utilities help with: Water Bills

Payment Assistance – The Payment Assistance program is designed to help customers find relief when struggling to pay the water bill. This program helps to offer payment assistance options to help make sure the bill still gets paid during tough times.

  • Phone: 1300 657 657
  • Utilities help with: Water Bills

Queensland

Electricity And Gas Rebates – Electricity and gas rebates are available to help with managing the cost of your electricity and gas during difficult times. These rebates can help to reduce your overall cost by giving you something back.

  • Phone: 1300 657 657
  • Utilities help with: Electricity and Gas Bills

Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession Scheme – This scheme is capable of providing concessions for those who have a specified medical condition which requires the use of air conditioning to regulate the temperature of their body.

  • Phone: 1300 657 657
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme – This scheme is able to help low income households to pay for their energy bills during an emergency or a time of crisis.

  • Phone: 1300 657 657
  • Utilities help with: Electricity and Gas Bills

Electricity Life Support – Electricity life support concessions are eligible for those who require the use of home-based oxygen concentrators or kidney dialysis machines. It’s also for those who are seriously ill and living at home.

  • Phone: 1300 657 657
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

South Australia

Residential Park Residential Concessions – These concessions are eligible for those who are living in residential parks or caravan parks. This concession is designed to help with water and energy bills.

  • Phone: 1800 307 758
  • Utilities help with: Electricity, Gas, Water Bills and Council Rates

Energy Concessions – A state government concession is available for fixed or low income earners. This concession is designed to help with the increase in energy bills and cost associated with their electricity.

  • Phone: 1800 307 758
  • Utilities help with: Electricity and Gas Bills

Water and Sewerage Rates – Water and sewerage concessions are available to South Australians who may be on a fixed or low income. This concession helps to combat against the cost of water and sewerage rates.

  • Phone: 1800 307 758
  • Utilities help with: Water Bills and Sewerage Rates

Western Australia

Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS) – The Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme is available to provide financial assistance for those who may be in financial hardship. This scheme is designed to help pay their gas, water, and electricity bills to stop provider cut-offs.

  • Phone: (08) 9222 2739
  • Utilities help with: Electricity, Gas and Water Bills

Victoria

Utility Relief Grant Scheme – This scheme is designed to provide assistance for domestic customers who may not be able to pay for their utility bills during a short term financial crisis. This scheme helps to take the pressure off during hard times for those who may have been affected within the first 12 months.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: all Utility Bills

Annual Electricity Concession – The Annual Electricity Concession is designed to help take the pressure off the cost of living by providing concession cardholders with a 17.5 percent discount off eligible electricity bills. The concession is based upon the remaining account balance once retailer discounts are applied.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Life Support Machine Electricity Concession – The life support concession is designed to provide a discount quarterly on water bills and electricity bills where a member of the family may use a life support machine. This is available to both homeowners and renters all year round.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Medical Cooling Concession – The medical cooling concession is able to provide a discount of up to 17.5 percent on summer electricity costs for cardholders who have family members that have a medical condition where regulation of body temperature is required.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Winter Energy Concession – The Winter Energy Concession is available to help take the pressures off the cost of living by providing a 17.5 percent discount off the main gas bills during a winter period. The concession is calculated from the balance of the account once all retailer discounts have been applied.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Gas Bills

Service To Property Charge Concession – This concession is capable of providing electricity service charge discounts where a household features a very low electricity usage. The usage charge however must be less that the overall service charge. The discount can reduce the service charge to the total electricity usage cost for the billing period.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Electricity Transfer Fee Waiver – This Electricity Transfer Fee Waiver is capable of providing a full waiver of the fee which is normally assigned and paid to electricity retailers when property occupancy changes.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Electricity Bills

Water And Sewerage Concession – This concession is capable of providing a discount of 50 percent on both sewerage and water charges to a maximum of up to $300. This means that bills which are $300 dollars may receive a 50 percent discount which means their bill is only $150.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Water Bills and Sewerage Rates

Non-Mains Water Rebate – The Non-Mains Water Rebate can help cardholders who use LPG, heating oil or firewood for domestic uses to gain a rebate on some of the cost of their usage. This is for anyone who relies on a generator or gains access to non-mains electricity through an embedded network.

  • Phone: 1800 658 521
  • Utilities help with: Water Bills


 
Making A Complaint
If you find your utility provider isn’t willing to help you, you can make a complaint to an ombudsman schemes below. These services are available in each state and can provide you with advice on conciliation services with complaints regarding water and energy providers.

WA: Energy Ombudsman Western Australia Energy – Phone: 1800 754 004
VIC: Energy And Water Ombudsman – Phone: 1800 500 509
ACT: ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal – Phone: 02 6207 7740
TAS: Energy Ombudsman Tasmania – Phone 1800 001 170
SA : Energy Industry Ombudsman SA – Phone: 1800 665 565
QLD: Energy Ombudsman Queensland – Phone: 1800 662 837
NT: Ombudsman NT – Phone: 1800 806 380
NSW: Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW – Phone: 1800 246 545

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – Phone: 1800 062 058
This service is a dispute resolution scheme that’s nationally independent which is free to use for complaints about internet or phone services.

Additional Tips to Reduce Your Overall Usage Bill Amounts
If you feel your utility bills are much larger than they should be it may be best to minimise usage where possible. Some ways you can minimise usage include:

Turning off lights, fans or any other electrical item when not in the room.

  • Spend less time in the shower. Minimise your time to a 2-minute shower.
  • Put on extra clothing during the winter months and place door snakes at the door to minimise cold air coming in from under the door.
  • Open curtains and allow natural sunlight in as much as possible to help warm up the room.
  • Wash only when you have a substantial load of washing.

Conclusion
Before your utility bills become too much to handle around you, remember that it is in your provider’s best interest to help you with any bill problem you may have.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Centrelink gave us your details for small loans to pay bills such as Rent Electricisty and gas Interest Free. Than you deduct the payment each fortnight from our Payment.

    Can you advise me if this is true and how much it would cost each fortnight if I was to borrow $1000 .

    Thank you

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