Anglicare’s financial counsellor Bert Aperloo has advice for anyone struggling to pay their electricity bill – ask for help!
“People can be reluctant to contact Aurora Energy if they know they won’t be able to make a payment by the due date,” said Bert. “But there are a range of payment options available. Don’t ignore a debt, thinking it will somehow go away – it won’t. Make that call”.
Bert said customers could contact Aurora Energy directly, or speak to a financial counsellor at the National Debt Help Line on 1800 007 007. “A financial counsellor can set up a conference call straight away and help you work things out,” he said.
Bert said Aurora Energy gave customers the opportunity to pay a bill in instalments up until their next meter read. It is also possible to arrange for a tailored payment plan to pay off a debt.
Anglicare and Aurora Energy, through the YES (Your Energy Support) program, visit customers to help them find ways to reduce electricity usage and stay connected to this essential service.
“A lot of people can’t work out how they’re using so much power so we take a look at their appliances and help figure out ways to make savings” said Bert.
Bert’s top tips for saving electricity include:
- Clean the filters on your heat pump at least once a month;
- Switch off the heat-pump at night-time. “There’s a big myth in Tasmania that you need to leave these on 24/7. It’s not true,” he said.
- Take shorter showers.
- Switch off appliances at the power-point when you’re not using them. “Stand-by power makes up 10% of your total electricity consumption,” he said. “So if you have a $600 bill, $60 of that is made up of having appliances on stand-by”.
- Turn off your phone charger once your phone is charged.
“But if something happens and you can’t pay your electricity bill, don’t stick your head in the sand,” said Bert. “There are lots of reasons why people find themselves struggling – redundancy, a relationship split, illness. Nobody will criticise or judge you. We’re here to help”.
“The most important thing is to contact Aurora Energy as soon as possible, rather than ignoring letters and phone calls. Please don’t leave it until your power is disconnected”.
Bert said many Tasmanians chose to make fortnightly payments to avoid ‘bill shock’. For those receiving Centrelink payments, it is also simple to set up a Centrepay deduction arrangement. “All you need to do is provide Aurora Energy with the details of your health care card,” he said.
“Remember, the worst thing to do with any kind of debt is to stick your head in the sand. Things can be sorted out,” he said, “but it’s always best to be up-front if you can’t make a payment – the earlier you contact a creditor, the better”.