Power prices are everywhere in the headlines but they are only catching up with what consumers have known for a few years now: electricity prices have spiked and are almost out of control.

It used to be the mobile phone bill was the one you dreaded in the letterbox, now it’s the power bill as prices have nearly doubled on top of inflation in most parts of Australia this decade. 

Only this week a report from the University of Melbourne’s Grattan Institute showed that household power bills in Victoria have gone up 119 percent in the last decade, with most families now paying $1837 per year.

Prime Minister Turnbull has unleashed the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) onto the retail electricity sector and it’s not before time.

While we wait the several months it will take the ACCC to even make an initial report, here’s a couple of factoids to consider.

  • The Grattan Institute report claims retailers are claiming a margin of around 13 percent, more than double what state governments consider to be fair
  • Victoria’s 2.5 million households would save $105 per home, or $250 million in total, if the profit margin of electricity retailers was in line with other retail businesses
  • The ACCC hasn’t been sitting on its hands on power prices. AGL has paid $1.55 million for illegal door to door selling practices, while Origin has paid $2 million
  • It’s not just the big boys either. Neighbourhood Energy and Australian Green Credits have also paid $1 million in penalties.

So its clearly time for drastic action and you don’t have to wait for the ACCC report, the final version of which is due in more than a year, in June 2018.

Here’s five quick ideas to cut the power bill right now:

Get another provider at a cheaper rate. It’s a cut throat industry and there’s strong competition, along the eastern seaboard at least. Go to a comparison site and find yourself a better deal. A lot of providers have “honeymoon” deals for new customers. Think about jumping from honeymoon to honeymoon.

If you have solar, think about battery storage. Around 15 percent of us have home solar, one of the highest percentages in the world. There used to be an incentive to feed that power to the grid. It might be better to spend the $7500 or so to get storage if you are in a family home and planning to stay put for a while.

If you don’t have solar, see if you can get it. Solar prices are coming down, and according to Solar Choice hit a record low in March. The average national cost of installing a 1.5kW system is now $3700, while 10kW has an average cost of $14,424.

Insulation can help save on power bills. If you have insulation already, make sure it is rated R3.5 or higher.

Do the little things to save. Wear the right clothes, shut doors and close curtains and set your thermostat. Washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot can save around $115 a year, according to a Victorian Government study.

Check your light globes. It might pay to replace old incandescent and halogen lights with energy efficient globes.

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