Quietly introduced changes to electricity laws are set to have the cost of running household airconditioners skyrocketing. Industry experts have estimated some families could see as much as a 15,000 per cent increase! This translates into a cost of $700 on top of their existing electricity bill.

In anticipation of the backlash power companies are already formulating suggestions to ease the price pain:

Home owners may have to shelter in community cooled areas, such as shopping malls or cinema foyers. Everyone is advised to upgrade their existing airconditioner to a more energy-efficient model. If these measures are not enough, then some families may be forced to surrender control of their airconditioner to their power provider. In this case the electricity retailer will only allow use of the unit during low tariff times.

It is estimated three quarters of Australian homes have airconditioners: Tasmania have the fewest with 50 per cent, NSW 64 per cent, 70 per cent in the ACT, 75 per cent in Queensland, 78 per cent in Victoria; while South Australia tops the nation with 90 per cent of homes containing at least one cooler.

Australia’s massive power consumption is blamed on the rise in the number of airconditioners. And this growth in power use is used to explain the $8 billion spent on network upgrades in the past decade.

In fact, it is estimated the cost of this network service accounts for 80 per cent of the average homeowner’s power bill.

The Australian Energy Markets Commission (AEMC) is asking providers to give households ‘signals’ to changes in the cost of power, so that consumers can modify their usage. The AEMC believes doing so will result in savings for most households.

But one has to ask whether customer savings are what energy retailers want? The cost of the network services has to be paid sometime. And the more they charge consumers the faster they’ll be able to repay the borrowings.

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