Melbourne households set for more energy bill shocks as lockdown coincides with start of winter



Melbourne households are bracing for further energy bill shocks as the latest lockdown to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coincided with the start of winter.


With millions of Melburnians forced to work from home during the lockdown and many more already working remotely, many households can expect their next energy bill to be shockingly high.


However, energy experts say there are some simple steps you can take to try and reduce your energy costs while working from home during the winter months.


“The biggest energy use during winter will be heating, especially if you’re working from home,” says Environment Victoria campaigns manager Dr Nicholas Aberle.


A 2019 report by Sustainability Victoria found that heating is the main area of energy use in Victorian houses, accounting for around 57 per cent of total Victorian residential energy consumption and 28 per cent of Victorian greenhouse gas emissions from residential energy use.


“Start by focusing on upgrading insulation, draught sealing and installing curtains and pelmets – basically anything you can do to keep the heat inside,” Dr Aberle says.


He says switching to electric heating appliances can also help reduce your energy bills.


“It’s now cheaper and better for the environment to heat your home with efficient electric appliances, not gas heating. So, if you want to save on your energy bills this winter, switch off your central gas heater and turn on the reverse-cycle airconditioner in heating mode instead,” he said.


“Every dollar you spend on making your home energy efficient will pay off in terms of bill savings and being more productive,” he said.


In the November 2020 budget, the Victorian government committed to helping 250,000 low-income and vulnerable households upgrade their old gas, electric and wood heaters with energy-efficient, reverse-cycle split systems.


Rebates of $1000 are available from July 2021 for households with a concession card or combined household income of under $90,000.


Mark Brownfield, residential executive at EnergyAustralia, says, “with more people working from home either from increased workplace flexibility or as a result of the Victorian 4.0 lockdown, there are many actions customers can take, large and small, to help manage their energy costs.”


“This includes shifting the use of some energy-hungry appliances to the evening and keeping their heating or cooling temperate to a range that balances comfort and cost.


“We suggest setting it to no more than 18-20° C for heating … remembering that every degree beyond that can add 10 per cent to your energy bill,” Mr Brownfield says.


“As the colder days become more common, we also encourage customers to ensure their home is well insulated by proactively blocking door and window gaps with the help of a door snake or a folded towel,” he says.


EnergyAustralia has provided further tips for staying warm while keeping energy costs down as Melburnians return to remote working en masse.


These include:

  • keeping internal doors closed to ensure you heat only the rooms you spend the most time in;
  • dressing appropriately, and getting up to move around periodically to keep your blood circulating effectively;
  • choosing an area with lots of natural light to work in, and opening blinds and curtains where suitable;
  • adjusting  the settings on your work and entertainment devices to run in economy mode, to automatically minimise power consumption when not being actively used, and to turn-off after a set time (with computers set to auto-save your work);
  • using a microwave rather than an oven or stovetop to reheat food and only running your dishwasher when it’s full.



Ref: RACHEL WELLS  (on 12 Jun 2021). Melbourne households set for more energy bill shocks as lockdown coincides with start of winter. Retrieved from


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