Keeping the power on
Have you bravely packed away your puffer jacket and long johns in the hope that winter is behind us and there are longer, sunnier days ahead?
It’s always a good idea to keep them at hand, just in case! It also pays to keep an eye on your energy use, whatever the season.
Mark Mason (pictured above) is Anglicare’s statewide manager for Financial Resilience and Wellbeing. He manages a team of committed financial counselling professionals who are part of the National Debt Helpline.
“Very early in the coronavirus pandemic, one of the two energy retailers operating in Tasmania, Aurora Energy, suspended disconnecting customers for non-payment of bills when it became clear that people were experiencing financial hardship,” he said.
“We are aware that Aurora has started to disconnect customers again for non-payment, so it’s more important than ever to be on the front foot and reach out to the National Debt Helpline for support.
“We can negotiate with your retailer on your behalf. They disconnect as a last resort and they are flexible when it comes to payment plans.
“We can look at your situation and come up with a strategy that will get your power back on and pay down your debt as soon as possible.
“Going forward, we can recommend ways to manage your consumption and pay your bills on time so that you know you can afford the energy you are using and you don’t face disconnection again.”
A turning point for Donna *
Donna has a history of mental ill health and has often found it difficult to manage her power bill. Her power was disconnected recently as she owed her retailer (Aurora) almost $3,000.
She turned to an Anglicare financial counsellor via the National Debt Helpline for assistance. She told the counsellor she had no money for the $600 re-connection fee and was very distressed about her situation.
The financial counsellor assessed her as being eligible for payment from Anglicare’s electricity hardship fund and negotiated with Aurora for an immediate reconnection.
Donna will now sit down with her financial counsellor and work out a payment plan so that she can pay back all of her debt.
“Donna is very keen to work through her budget with us so that she can manage her money more intentionally,” her counsellor reports.
Here are our energy saving tips as we (hopefully) head into the warmer weather:
- Only use your air conditioner when it’s really necessary. Closing the curtains on a hot day can make a real difference to the temperature inside your home.
- Set your water thermostat to 50 degrees: any hotter, you’re wasting energy AND risking a burn
- Replace standard light bulbs with LED ones as they use 75% less energy
- Have you notified your retailer that you have a Centrelink concession card? The discount is worth over $100 per bill.
Aurora Energy has a range of payment options available. It also has a specific assistance package it calls YES (Your Energy Support) for customers experiencing hardship.
The No Interest Loans Scheme provides Tasmanians on low incomes with an interest-free loan for the purchase of essential, energy-efficient items such as new model washing machines and fridges.
Anglicare’s financial counsellors operate the National Debt Helpline in Tasmania. You can contact them by telephoning 1800 007 007.
Find more information about Anglicare’s financial counselling service here.
*not her real name