The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) set what's known as the Default Market Offer (DMO) for standard retail energy prices, aimed to protect consumers from unjustifiably high prices.

With wholesale energy costs continuing to push up prices, the AER increased default prices for households by 19-25%, depending on plan and region, from the start of the month.

AER Chair Clare Savage said while the regulator's primary concern is to keep retail energy prices affordable, it also needs to ensure energy companies can recover reasonable costs to continue to serve customers.

"In setting the DMO price this year we have sought to protect consumers from unjustifiably high prices and at the same time allow retailers to offer consumers better deals than their standard plans," Ms Savage said.

For Australians in the middle of winter, being careless with energy consumption is increasingly expensive, and there are several strategies experts recommend to keep power bills manageable.

Check the Energy star label

Choosing energy efficient appliances is one of the best ways to lower your power bill without having to think about it. 

Energy ratings is a joint government and industry initiative to guide consumers on which products (dishwashers, washing machines etc) use less energy while maintaining performance.

Look for stickers like this, which give you a star rating out of six as well as estimate how many Kilowatt hours (kWh) the product uses each year, when you're in the market for electrical appliances.

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Consider solar

If you've been thinking about installing solar panels, but haven't got around to doing it yet, now could be the time.

Liam Navon of Smart Energy called solar power a game changing solution for combatting rising energy costs.

"By installing solar panels, you can generate your own electricity and reduce reliance on traditional energy sources," Mr Navon said.

Stefan Jarnason of Solar Analytics says solar panels reduce the typical Aussies power bills by about 70%.

Smart energy management

Technology offers another way to improve your energy efficiency.

Several products out there allow you to monitor your energy consumption in real-time and identify areas where you can cut back.

A smart thermometer for example allows you to control and schedule heating and cooling, so you can optimise your use.

Turn things off

According to research by ING, while more than nine in ten Aussies want to cut back on their power bills, bad energy habits are still common.

A survey of more than 1,000 found 44% of Aussies still leave unused electronics on at the switch, 39% boil more water than they use, and 31% unnecessarily use the defrost setting on their microwaves.

Smart Energy offers several other everyday energy-conscious habits that could make a big difference to your bills.

  • Turn off lights and unplug any device when you aren't using it
  • Use natural lighting whenever possible
  • Use natural ventilation instead of relying on air conditioning
  • Fill the dishwasher and washing machine every time you use it

Check for air leaks

Particularly relevant in winter, Smart Energy say households often waste energy through air leaks and inadequate insulation.

Most of us know to close the doors when the air conditioning is on, but any cracks or gaps around windows or doors are other potential spots for air to escape.

Whether you're heating the house in winter or cooling in summer, changing the climate inside your house becomes much more expensive if half the hot/cool air is escaping into the garden.

Use all the bill relief you are eligible for

May's Federal Budget revealed many Australians would be eligible for up to $500 in energy relief.

Since then, the Queensland Budget also contained a $550 rebate for all house holds to ease energy pressures.

Several other state initiatives like this are out there, so it's worth investigating to make sure you are taking advantage of everything you are eligible for.

Look out for energy companies' tricks

While becoming more energy conscious is never a bad thing, the reality is leaving the TV on standby isn't the main reason many punters are becoming overwhelmed by energy costs.

Geopolitical and economic factors are making wholesale energy more expensive to produce, but retailers are still out to make a profit, and there's several sneaky ways you might be being overcharged.

Check out our guide to the most common tricks energy retailers might be using here.