Help with energy bills during COVID‑19

If your business is struggling to pay energy bills because of the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19), there may be other options available. If you can't pay your bill on time or you’ve received a disconnection notice, contact your retailer to find out how they can help. You may be able to:

  • delay payment
  • pay your bill off in smaller amounts
  • avoid disconnection.

Energy retailers who are members of the Australian Energy Council (AEC) are making sure help is available to customers affected by coronavirus. If you're not satisfied after speaking to your retailer, contact the energy ombudsman in your state or territory. An ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution service.

You can read more about government expectations of energy providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Becoming more energy efficient can save you money while protecting the environment. To help manage your energy usage, consider:

  • improving building energy efficiency
  • using energy efficient equipment
  • using alternative energy sources
  • seeking finance for energy efficiency improvements.

Learn how to conduct an energy efficiency assessment and find other advice for business owners.

Energy efficient buildings

If you’re building your own premises, it’s better to improve your energy efficiency from the start. The National Construction Code and the Australian Building Codes Board have handbooks and energy efficiency requirements to help you improve the energy efficiency of your commercial building.

Leasing a green building

If you’re looking to lease a building, you can reduce your energy costs by choosing a building that already has energy saving measures. Look at the energy rating of the building to help you choose. You could also consider a green lease where you and the building owner jointly agree to work towards reducing energy use.

Energy efficient appliances and technology

Selecting the right appliances and technology for your business and using them more efficiently will help reduce energy use and improve your bottom line.

Energy ratings

Energy ratings are an important tool for comparing the energy efficiency of appliances. The energy rating label helps you compare products before you buy. Download the free energy rating app to compare running costs of appliances.

If you supply electrical appliances, you must meet manufacturing and labelling laws that show the energy efficiency of your products. Read the suppliers information on the Energy rating website to find your legal obligations.

Retailers or tradies – such as lighting retailers and plumbers – must register energy efficiency products and make sure the rating label is displayed at point of sale. Visit the retailers and tradies page on the Energy rating website to find out more.

Fuel efficiency

Choosing a fuel efficient vehicle or truck can save your business money and reduce greenhouse and air pollution emissions.

Fuel-efficient cars also have a higher threshold for the luxury car tax and some insurers may offer discounts. Consider fuel and maintenance costs when choosing which vehicle is right for your business.

Energy contracts

Another way to save money is to review your current energy contract. There is a lot of variation in the costs of different energy plans.

Depending on the size and location of your business you can choose different types of energy contract:

  • Standard retail offers – basic contracts with minimum terms and conditions. These usually suit smaller energy users.
  • Market retail contracts – contracts between you and your energy retailer. These contracts mostly suit businesses with lower energy use.
  • Market contract (negotiated) – large energy users may wish to choose a market contract where you negotiate all of the contract. This is usually based on market prices, so you may be more exposed to price changes. These contracts can save you money if you understand your energy needs and actively manage your usage.

Negotiate your energy contract

It’s possible to negotiate a better deal from your existing or a new energy company. Just make sure you prepare well. Here are 6 tips to help you get the best price.

  1. Provide detailed usage data – The more an energy provider knows about your current usage, the less likely they are to charge you a premium. Aim to give them at least 12 months of data showing your energy use for each half-hour period. You can get this data from your current energy provider.
  2. Look at your contract carefully – For smaller businesses on market retail contracts, ask the provider about terms and conditions. Pay attention to details on pricing and any discounts with an offer, such as pay on time discounts. If you negotiate your contract, review it before making any changes to your energy use or contract. Look for any special clauses such as a ‘take-or-pay’ clause. This means if you use less than a minimum amount of energy you still have to pay. Contracts and clauses vary between energy retailers. Do some research or talk to an energy broker about your options.
  3. Shop around – You can easily do an online search on the Australian Energy Regulator website to see how your energy contract compares to similar businesses. Consider an energy broker or third party to get a better deal. Make sure you include any broker or exit fees in your comparison. Search the Energy Made Easy website to compare electricity and gas offers.
  4. Go to market at the right time – If you negotiate a contract, you don’t have to wait until the end of your contract to get a better deal. Energy prices can change throughout the year, so consider negotiating when prices are lower.
  5. Choose the best contract period – The length of your energy contract is another way you can save money. In a rising market, where current prices are cheaper than future prices, it may be better to choose a longer contract. In a decreasing market it may be better to select a short period, so you can buy cheaper energy in the future.
  6. Plan for the future – When negotiating your contract, it’s important to consider any major changes you plan for your business. If you plan to expand your operations, consider a shorter contract until you have a better idea of the energy you’ll need.

Energy finance options

There is a range of finance types to help fund your energy improvements including:

  • Leasing – this reduces the up-front cost of switching to more energy efficient equipment.
  • On-bill financing – the retailer provides you with the energy efficiency equipment in return for regular repayments on your energy bill.
  • Energy performance contracts – common in the commercial building sector. Energy service companies reduce your energy bill by retrofitting the building and using the energy saved to fund the costs.
  • Grants – energy grants are available for businesses to improve their energy efficiency.

Energy support

  • Through the Business Energy Advice Program you can get a free Business Energy Advice consultation and find out how to reduce your energy usage and get a better energy deal.
  • You can also take advantage of a Small Business Energy Check benchmarking tool to compare your energy spend against similar businesses in your area.
  • You can search our other grants and programs to find energy grants for business.
  • Or find other funding options on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources grants and funding page.
  • GreenPower is a government scheme that provides businesses with support and incentives to replace electricity use with certified renewable energy.
  • Whilst some state and territory governments offer energy programs with rebates for energy upgrades.

Solar finance deals

You could save many thousands of dollars each year by installing solar panels to power your business. Search our grants and programs to see if your business may be eligible for funding.

If you’re considering leasing solar panels or entering into a power purchase agreement that includes the purchase of electricity you generate, check:

Read the NSW Fair Trading topic for more on the requirements when installing solar panels.

Energy information for your industry

Find information on legal, operational and business requirements for you industry.

Get energy tips, fact sheets and case studies from the website.

Energy and Water Ombudsmen

Ombudsmen provide free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier.

Contact the one in your region to find out about the complaints process, the types of complaints they can help you with and how to submit a complaint.

Want more?

Learn how to make your business more environmentally friendly.