Money saving tips: El Niño to see power bills soar

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Warmer and drier conditions across much of Australia over the summer are likely to send household power bills soaring by as much as 25 per cent.

That’s according to money saving expert Joel Gibson, who said while wholesale power ­prices are down in Australia, it often takes six months to a year for those savings to flow through to customers.

“With an average 25 per cent increase in energy prices on the east coast in July-August, we can also expect our summer bills to be on average 25 per cent higher than last year,” Mr Gibson said.

“Wholesale prices are down, which is good news, but this takes six months to a year to flow through to household bills. So keeping a lid on the aircon costs will be crucial this summer.”

Mr Gibson said 75 per cent of Aussie homes now have airconditioning, so it’s important to remember that every degree matters.

“Just dialling it up from 20 to 21, for example, can cut your summer cooling bill by 10 per cent over the season, and add up to $100 for some bigger systems,” he said.

Queensland government-owned utility Ergon Energy has an airconditioning calculator which shows how much difference one degree can make for your size of aircon.

Mr Gibson also recommends making sure you’re on a cheap energy plan.

“(St Vincent de Paul Society) says you can save $600-$1200 depending on your state by moving from the most expensive to the cheapest energy plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, solar energy provider Smart Energy recommends homeowners cut power bills in the long-term by investing in energy-efficient appliances and ensuring proper home insulation.

The company also recommends people seal gaps in doors and windows to prevent cool air from escaping, and using fans instead of airconditioning.

El Nino is the warming ­effect caused by periodic irregularities in the El Nino southern oscillation cycle. The ­opposite, cooling effect is known as La Nina.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology: “An El Nino ­occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become substantially warmer than average, and this causes a shift in atmospheric circulation­.

“Typically, the equatorial trade winds blow from east to west across the Pacific Ocean. El Nino events are associated with a weakening, or even ­reversal, of the prevailing trade winds.”

In November, the Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2023 was “virtually certain” to be the hottest year on ­record for Australia.

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