Saving your money as a uni student: our Money Matters team shares tips on how to slash your energy bill and more
The struggle is real for uni students – trying to cover rent and bills while juggling study and work, even before the disruptions of COVID-19, is not easy. And then we’ve got to take your long- or short-term savings plans into account!
That’s why enterprising students Izzy Holt, Amber Leach and Jasmine Lo, who spent time this year researching inventive ways to manage their finances, decided to launch the Deakin Money Matters project for fellow students. The team has banded together to create a range of articles and resources to help you get the most out of your money and available support services.
‘Our aim has been to create tangible tips and guides that we ourselves have used,’ says Izzy.
Here, in this handy ‘Saving your money as a uni student’ article series, the Money Matters team will share their tips and tricks for leveraging available resources and reducing your practical expenses so you can focus your energies on your studies and savings. First up, Izzy covers hassle-free ways you can save hundreds on your energy bills.
By Izzy Holt
If you found an extra $200 in your bank account, what would you spend it on? I recently saved this amount of money off my energy bill and put it towards my car registration. For many students, this amount could be a week’s worth of rent, a month’s worth of food or even the wages lost if you’re a casual worker who needs to take sick days.
Having extra cash in your pocket can be invaluable to cover any unexpected expenses that might occur. Here are the ways I reduced my energy expenditure that might help you save some cash towards something important.
Power Saving Bonus
My friends and I had no idea that the Power Saving Bonus existed! In 2021 the Victorian Government has been offering recipients of certain benefits (including those on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy) a one-off, hassle-free Power Saving Bonus of $250 per household. I was surprised by how quickly and easily I was able to apply for and receive this payment. You can check your eligibility online, and it is worth investigating similar schemes available in other states. If you aren’t eligible, fear not! There are many other ways you can claw this cash back from your power bill.
When researching your provider, check and see if your bill uses an actual meter read or an estimated meter read (yes, this is a thing!)
Check your provider
I use the Government’s ‘Energy Made Easy’ tool to compare the best provider plan for my residence. It gives you side-by-side comparisons of different plans, walks you through how to contact the new provider and provides you details to quote. Your new provider can help you navigate the exit conditions of switching.
For me, switching providers seemed like a lot of trouble, especially since I was already getting a pretty good rate. Instead, I noted down the details of the best plan I could find and called my provider to see if they could match the best offer and keep me as a customer. They couldn’t price match, but they instead put me on a different plan of theirs that saves me hundreds of dollars a year.
Be sure to research and take advantage of any perks or discounts your energy provider may offer. I learned that AGL has a Peak Energy Rewards program where you can earn credits towards your bill. Additionally, if you hold a concession card, check your eligibility for an energy concession and make sure it’s been applied.
I was shocked to learn that sometimes providers will use estimated meter reads, instead of actual reads. When researching your provider, check and see if your bill uses an actual meter read or an estimated meter read (yes, this is a thing!). It will tell you the type of read on your bill. On the chance your bill is estimated, you can research video tutorials on how to read your meter and contact your provider to refund you any discrepancies.
Here’s more tips and tricks to lessen your energy bills
- Instead of constantly using the heater, I rug up and use a hot water bottle or microwave heat pack to stay warm.
- Unplug devices and turn off power points when not in use. Especially microwaves, TVs, kettles, washing machines and laptop chargers.
- If you’re on a flexible plan where rates change depending on peak times, plan to do chores during off-peak times.
- Go to Bunnings and spend $3 on weather sealer. I put these rubber strips across my doors and windows to seal draughts.
- If you can, turn up the temperature of your fridge a degree or two but not to unsafe levels, only if it’s currently set colder than you need (food should be stored at 5 °C or below).
- Replace light bulbs with LEDs. In some Australian states there are even subsidies and free programs to do this, so Google to see if there’s one in your area.
- When I do use the heater, I only turn it as high as necessary (extra degrees = extra dollars!) and set a timer. I also close doors to rooms to keep heat in. Same goes for the air conditioner.
- I like to open and close blinds to help regulate temperature when it’s sunny or dark.
- Use rugs and carpet to help insulate bare floors (it also makes your place look fancy!).
- If your laptop or phone is fully charged, unplug it for a while! Not only is this better for its battery life but you can save some dollars by turning off the outlet.
Want to find out more?
- Check out this Government guide on saving electricity.
- If you’re having trouble paying your bill, take a look at this Victorian Government resource for support and advice.
- If you’re in need of financial assistance, contact DUSA’s Financial Counselling service and book a free appointment to have a confidential discussion with a financial advisor.
And please go ahead and help a friend by sharing this article!
Next up in our ‘Saving your money as a uni student’ series, our Deakin Money Matters team delve into the various reward and savings schemes available to you. Enjoy and stay tuned for more advice each week!
Our thanks to the Office of the Dean of Students for supporting the Deakin Money Matters project team to create these resources.