In addition to ensuring you are taking all the steps you can to save energy around your home, it’s important to confirm you're on the best energy offer for your household’s circumstances.
How to check your energy offer is the right fit
Depending on where you live, you may have a choice of which energy retailer to use. Even if you only have one retailer in your area, there are usually many energy offers to choose from. Before you do so, start by getting a good understanding of how and when you use energy—if you choose an offer that doesn’t suit your household or lifestyle you could end up paying more.
The Energy Made Easy website can help you compare your home electricity usage against similar sized households in your area.
If you are able to move some energy-intensive activities to off peak periods, you may find an offer with off peak pricing will save you money. However, the same offer may increase your costs if you need to run heating and cooling systems at peak times.
If you live in New South Wales, South Australia, south-east Queensland or the Australian Capital Territory, you can compare electricity and gas offers here. If you live in Victoria, visit https://compare.switchon.vic.gov.au
How to compare energy offers
Talk to your retailer
In most areas except Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and areas outside south-east Queensland, you will have a choice of electricity retailers. Even in areas where there's only one available, there will still be different contracts to choose from.
When you make the call to any retailer, ask plenty of questions (some examples are below), and before you move from an existing offer make sure you understand what you are signing (including the fine print) and that you’ve made accurate comparisons.
Some questions to ask
When talking to energy retailers and comparing electricity and gas market offers ensure you do the following:
- Compare costs accurately. Ask retailers what their price is in cents per kilowatt hour (c/KWh).
- Ask what the daily supply charge is. When comparing offers, check whether the charge is for the same number of days as on your existing electricity bill.
- Check whether there are any extra fees such as for late payments or early contract termination.
- Ask if anything extra is included in the offer, such as bonuses or savings. Check what you need to do to qualify for a discount, and whether the discount applies to the whole bill or usage charges only (conditional discounts may not be worthwhile if you can't meet the condition). For example, a pay on time discount may not be beneficial if you often struggle to pay your bill on time.
- Check billing and payment arrangements—including how and when you're billed and payment options. Check whether time-of-use pricing or off-peak hot water is on offer.
- Check contract conditions and ask what happens at the end of the contract period. How do you renew? What happens if you wish to change retailers?
EnergyMadeEasy.gov.au lists a range of calculators or estimators to help with finding the best option for your household. The site will help you to compare electricity and gas contracts available from licensed energy retailers and estimate your annual energy costs under each contract. You'll need access to your previous electricity and/or gas consumption information. Remember: if you don't have previous bills available your current energy retailer can provide this information.
Other things to remember when comparing energy offers
- Dual fuel offers that combine gas and electricity may not be better value than separate gas and electricity offers. Check both options as part of your research.
- If you're a low income earner, pensioner or have a specific medical condition, check to see if you're eligible for any rebates and concessions.
- Browse the EnergyMadeEasy website consumer rights and support pages, where you’ll find a range of easy-to-read information about the best way to resolve a complaint, how to deal with door-to-door salespeople, your rights as customer and what to do if you're having trouble paying an energy bill.
- Retailers must provide an adequate response to any questions or issues you raise. If you feel you've been misled or issues remain unresolved you can contact the energy and water ombudsman or appropriate tribunal in your state.
- Switching providers can help lower your contract costs but it won't lower your energy use.
Before you sign a new energy offer
Before agreeing to new energy offer, read the terms and conditions on the contract. Asking a friend or family member to review the details can be helpful.
There are laws in place for customer protection on energy matters. The retailer must provide a printed summary as well as an energy price fact sheet which must include the following:
- all prices and charges
- early termination payments and penalties
- date and duration of the contract
- billing and payment information
- your rights and obligations
- check cooling off periods in case you change your mind