Efficient upgrades could slash $2000 off power bills


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Slash $2000 off your power bill, banks offer little support to scam victims, and single-digit car rego plate sells for $22 million. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Ultimate bill buster: Wipe $2000 from your power bill

The Climate Council says a few steps could see Australians slash around $2000 off their annual power bill.

bathroom renovation

Climate Council Senior Researcher Dr. Carl Tidemann, explains, "Australian homes are woeful when it comes to energy efficiency, with the average house built roughly 20 years ago having a meagre 1.8 star energy rating on average. That's little better than living in a tin shed."

According to Tidemann, many households remain reliant on "eye-wateringly expensive gas".

Climate Council analysis shows that electrifying a home's cooking, heating and hot water can save a household between $336 and $1,311 a year.

Adding insulation, or just finding and fixing draughts, can knock a further $354 to $1,561 from annual energy bills.

The Climate Council's new bill savings simulator shows how to save on power at your place.

Been scammed? Don't expect the bank to bail you out

The ACCC reported shocking figures this week, showing Australians lost a record $3.1 billion to scams in 2022, an 80% increase on losses recorded in 2021.

The standard advice for scam victims is to contact their bank immediately. But a new report by money watchdog ASIC shows this is unlikely to bring much joy.

ASIC's analysis, which focused on the four major banks, found reimbursement and/or compensation was paid in only around 11% of the cases where there was a scam loss.

Among those scam victims who were reimbursed, just 36% of the customer's loss, on average, was refunded.

ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said, "Our review found there were inconsistent experiences and outcomes for customers who were the victim of a scam, and in some cases a bank's response may contribute to further distress for a customer."

ASIC is calling for all financial institutions to improve the way they handle scams.

Rego plate sells for $22 million

Status symbols vary between cultures, and it seems in the United Arab Emirates, personalised car licence plates are a go-to symbol of wealth.

The rule of thumb is simple. The fewer the digits on a plate, the wealthier and more important you are.

In a country with seven royal families - one for each of the emirates, it's no surprise that a licence plate with the number '7' recently sold at a Dubai charity auction for an eye-watering 55 million dirhams - about $22 million.

The 'Most Noble Numbers' auction also saw the sale of several premier mobile phone numbers, with the Gulf News reporting the number 971548888888 fetched 2.3 million dirhams - around $934,000.

Hopefully, the happy owner isn't fielding too many calls from new friends looking for a spare dirham or two.

Here in Australia, the record for a car rego plate is $2.45 million paid for a NSW plate bearing the number '4'.

If you're interested, numberplates.com.au has a Victorian rego plate 'CEO' listed for sale for $1 million.

No break fees...no problem says Pepper

Non-bank lender Pepper Money is waiving break fees also known as 'early repayment fees' on its fixed rate home loans, giving borrowers the flexibility to refinance or pay out the loan at any time without penalty.

Break costs apply if you want to bail out of a fixed rate mortgage before the fixed term expires.

It's a cost that can add up to thousands of dollars, particularly if market rates have dropped since you locked in.

Without break costs, Pepper's fixed rate loan shelters borrowers from rising rates while leaving the door open to exit the loan without penalty.

Is there a catch? Potentially.

Pepper's lowest 2-year fixed rate starts from 5.59% with a loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of up to 55%, meaning you'll need at least 45% deposit (or other security) to be eligible on a new purchase. The maximum LVR is up to 95%.

Pepper's fixed rate offers are available across a wide range of loan purposes - including refinance and debt consolidation however, the rate can go as high as 10.79% (11.14% for investors) depending on your circumstances.

Are you organised enough to earn 5%?

Comparison site Mozo is urging Australians to actively chase down higher interest rates at a time when bonus rates on at-call savings are topping 5% - the highest in 10 years.

The best bonus rates right now can see you earn $512 over a year on a $10,000 deposit.

But Mozo's Peter Marshall says the devil is in the detail.

If you fail to meet the bonus rate conditions just half the time, you'll only make $268 in a year.

"Most bonus savings accounts require five to six transactions in a month, and a minimum monthly deposit," says Marshall. "If you are good with setting yourself alarms to remind you to do the transfer, and switch the cards in your Apple wallet, then you are on to a winner."

If you fall into the not-so-organised category, it could be worth thinking about a term deposit.

The top 12-month term deposit rate (through Gateway Bank) will return $470 over a year on $10,000, and you won't have the hassle of jumping through hoops each month to maximise the rate.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.
Peter Ralph
April 22, 2023 2.18pm

Is electricity really cheaper? The energy loss with gas from the wellhead to the home is 8%. When gas is used to convert to electricity the energy loss is 55% and another 10% is lost in transmission. I suspect the claim that electricity is cheaper than gas is FAKE. Remove all BS subsidies and penalties and let the market decide.

Emanuel Amato
August 2, 2023 4.51pm

For whom this country is rich???? When our elected goverment is going to stand UP to this plain GREED from the multi filty rich companies like BANKS, OIL companies etc??? We have OIL and rich in GAS who is benefit from all this the public??? No but these companies. This is why I choose not to VOTE none of them has what it takes to say this is anough. Sorry for my poor grammer. But this will not stop me from expresss my comments