Find The Best Energy Plan
Finding the Best Electricity Plan: What is involved and what to look for.
Whether it is the provider with the best price, the one that offers you the most flexibility, the ownership of the company, the location of call centres or where it sources its electricity from, there are plenty of different reasons why consumers may choose one provider over another. The important thing to remember is that wherever you are located throughout Australia, whether you are in a regulated or unregulated market, you do have a choice and it is this freedom to choose a provider that makes the retail electricity market in this country so competitive.
So whether wherever you are located in Australia, from the large cities like Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney, the regional centres like Wollongong or Geelong or one of the thousands of smaller towns these are the things you should look out for when finding the best electricity plan.
Fixed & Variable Tariffs:
Does your provider offer a choice of fixed and variable tariff and do you know which is better for your household? Fixed tariffs offer a flat price where you pay a single price per kilowatt-hour for your electricity any hours of the day, this is opposed to variable tariffs which provide for a variety of prices depending on the time of day the energy is used. These times Peak, Off-Peak and Shoulder are designated around demand in a particular market and have preferential pricing to encourage usage during lower demand (Off Peak) times. This, in turn, spreads the demand load across the network.
Fixed tariffs may be suited to those that use more electricity during Peak time, have inconsistent electricity usage or prefer to have certainty around pricing. Variable tariffs can be more suited to households with night owls or that are able to organise the use of major appliances to run during Off-Peak periods when they are the most affordable to operate. Appliances such are dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers that can be set with timers to run during Off-Peak can save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Huge savings can be achieved by doing the same with pumps and filters for those with pools.
Market & Standing Contracts
Market contracts, available in the many deregulated energy markets throughout Australia allow consumers the greatest level of choice and flexibility, whereas Standing Contracts, offered in Regulated markets are generally much more rigid with less room for negotiation in pricing or contract terms.
There are advantages and disadvantages to either type of contract and these differences should be carefully considered. Market contracts, due to the competitive nature of deregulated markets, maybe cheaper, with sign-on incentives and pay on time discounts but may mean that consumers are locked into a particular provider and required to pay exit fees to change. Standing contracts may be more expensive in some areas but offer pricing certainty through government-imposed price caps.
Discounts, Incentives and Promotions
In the deregulated markets, energy retailers often offer significant discounts, incentives and promotions. This may come in the form of pay time discounts or limited-time promotional rates. For example, you may be eligible for a seniors discount. The important thing to remember is that these vary significantly between providers and may change regularly. The best way to make sure you are taking advantage of the most competitive promotions is to regularly review and switch your energy provider if you find a better deal.
Retailers may offer a choice of Fixed Term and No Lock-in Contract. Fixed contracts can be for a period of one to 3 years and retailers may offer more competitive pricing for those who are willing to fix. However, some households will require the flexibility of a No Lock-in Contract. This is particularly important for those that are renting their property or those looking to sell their property. Fixed contracts will often have an exit fee charged if a contract is ended early. If you are currently on a fixed-term contract you should take into account any exit fees that may be charged before you make the switch.
Different providers will source their electricity from various sources. With many now catering to the growing section of the market that wants to use more renewable energy sources like Solar, Wind and Hydroelectricity. Comparison tools now make it easier to find out where your power is coming from and what proportion is renewable. Make sure you are with an electricity provider that shares your views around renewable energy.
With many Australian states offering incentives and rebates to homeowners who install solar panels, there has been a huge increase in households with solar. A well-situated rooftop solar panel set up can see a house generating surplus energy to its requirements during daylight hours. This surplus is then fed back into the network and your energy retailer will provide you with a credit on your bill for this surplus. This feed-in tariff can have a significant impact on your bills and varies across providers. If you have solar make sure you are getting the most out of your panels.
There is plenty to consider when you are looking for the best electricity plan for your household or business, our comparison tool will take all of this into account and provide you with a range of quotes to help find the best provider for you.