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More than a million Australian households cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, new research reveals.

A survey by Australian comparison site Finder revealed almost three in four of the nation's households (72%) – equivalent to six million – are forced to cut back on heating due to cost of living pressures. The research found one in eight (13%) simply can’t afford to heat their homes, while almost one in five (18%) are forced to rely less on heating because their other daily expenses have increased. A further 40% admitted they had curbed their heating use as they were worried about rising energy prices. Mariam Gabaji, utilities expert at Finder, said the results were a cause for concern. “A growing number of households can’t even cover the basic necessities anymore with many going without heating as temperatures start to drop," she said. “A big electricity bill is just too much of a burden for many families right now.” This comes as electricity prices increased by 20-25% on July 1, according to the Australian Energy Regulator. Finder looked at annual estimates for 2-3 person households on a standing offer, single-rate tariff plan across postcodes in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and southeast Queensland. “You can click your state and enter your postcode in the search bar to see what your next bill might look like. The potential change could leave your eyes watering,” Ms Gabaji said.

“Around one in ten Australians are on a standing offer contract and are missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings.

“Standing offers are only meant to act as a stop gap for households that don't shop around for energy deals.”

Worryingly Victorians are most likely to be cutting back (79%) on heating despite being one of the coldest states in Australia.

Women (77%) are more likely than men (67%) to be struggling with the cost of heating.

“You should be comparing energy plans at least every 12 months and switching to a better deal when you can. Also, look for plans that are lower than the reference price," Ms Gabaji said.

“Wearing extra layers and covering windows and door drafts could help protect vulnerable Aussies from dropping temperatures.

“Think about other expenses where you could cut back to prioritise keeping warm and check on vulnerable neighbours this winter.”

Three tips to save money on your energy bills this winter

1. Choose the right heater. It's a myth that the smaller the heater, the less power and money it'll burn. Those giant reverse cycle air conditioners that you might have installed but don't use for heating? Yep, they're actually the cheapest to run.

2. Compare and switch energy plans, look for rebates and concessions. Consider energy plans the same way as you'd think about shopping for a winter coat. You'll look at a few different online or physical stores to see who's offering the best deal within your budget. Energy plans work the same way, though they're just a bit more complicated to understand. But know this, you're likely to get a better deal if you haven't switched plans in over 12 months.

3. Hack your home and make some lifestyle changes. Wearing extra layers, investing in an electric blanket, and taking shorter showers could save you hundreds on your electricity bill per year. It's the small changes that can add up.


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