With winter right around the corner, now is the time to start planning for a possible increase in your utility bills. If you struggled last year to pay these bills, or you are concerned about being able to fit these upcoming bills into current budget, now is the time to take some action. There are several options available to you which can help lower these costs this winter.
Below is a look at the top tips for finding help with your utility bills this winter.
Contact Utility Company
One of the first steps you should take to prepare for the winter months is to contact your local utility companies. Ask them about their bill smoothing solutions. These options will allow you to stretch your utility payments out of the course of the year, so that you rate stay pretty much the same all year long. This means that you will not see a sudden spike during the winter and summer months. If you receive Centrelink payments, you can also choose to have a set amount out of your regular monthly payment, through the Centrepay option, go directly to your utility company to offset your bill.
Help from Centrelink
You should also contact your local Centrelink office to see if you qualify for any additional help. Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for Utility Allowance, which will provide four years payments that are made on the 20th of March, June, September and December in the amount of $147.10 per payments. This can help offset the costs of your electric or gas bills. You may also qualify for Rent Assistance. While this will not lower your utility bills, you will lower your regular rental payments and provide you with more money to pay your other household bills.
Use Rebates and Vouchers
If you are a low-income earner or a senior, you may be eligible for certain rebates and vouchers. Each state operates their own program and eligibility requirements vary by locations. However, you must be a current resident of Australia and meet certain income requirements. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to receive financial assistance on your gas or electric bill, or both.
Contact – HESS
The Australian government’s Department of Social Services has created the Home Energy Saver Scheme (HESS) to help people take control of their utility bills. This program can provide you with useful tips on how to reduce your current energy use, such as keeping your curtain closed during the winter months to keep the heat in, dressing in layers, and learning to turn your thermostats down when you will be away from your home for several hours. In addition, they can help you determine if you are receiving all the rebates and vouchers, you deserve and if you qualify for help from the Centrelink department. They will also help you understand your energy bill, and how to make sure you are getting the best rates possible. You can check out their online website for additional information or contact them by phone.
Together these tips will help you get a better understanding of your utility bills and your energy consumption. It will also provide you with additional assistance that may be able to help you financially through the winter months. If, however, you do find yourself falling behind on your utility bills, do not wait until your receive a shut-off notice. Instead, contact your utility company as soon as you know you cannot make a payment. This will make the company more willing to work out a payment arrangement with you and keep your services on throughout the winter. Visit our non-loan options page to find additional methods of saving money.
Please share any other ideas or services which may help readers save on utility payments.
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