A guide to navigating Australia’s gas and electricity providers
Energy providers supply the electricity and gas services that are required to keep homes and businesses across Australia up and running. Because every provider and every energy plan they offer is likely to be slightly different, it can be well worth comparing different suppliers to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your particular requirements. There are also several steps that you can take to help minimise your own energy usage, which means an even better deal for both you and the environment.
Here are our tips for navigating energy providers in Australia, and taking control of your own energy usage.
Comparing your options
Energy providers are not “one size fits all”, and there are many aspects for you to consider when choosing your supplier and selecting the best plan for your circumstances.
Questions to bear in mind, or to ask a prospective energy provider when comparing different plans, include:
- What is the charge in cents per kilowatt-hour (c/KWh)?
- Are the charges based on fixed or variable rates?
- What is the daily supply charge (the fixed cost for the supply of electricity to your property)?
- Are there any exit fees or other restrictions, should you wish to change providers in the future?
- Are there any additional charges for late payments or credit card fees?
- Can they offer you any discounts as an incentive to choose their services?
- Are there any additional benefits that you may be eligible for, such as prompt payment discounts?
- How often will you be billed, and what payment options are available?
Knowing your rights
An energy services contract is a legally binding document, so it is crucial that you read the terms and conditions and fully understand every aspect of the plan you are signing up for.
As a consumer, you have a right for the service provider to supply you with a contract that clearly states this information. Your electricity company should provide you with a fact sheet that specifically outlines all charges and fees, the length of the contract, the payment terms, and other key details of the plan you have chosen.
Taking control of your energy usage
In addition to finding the most cost-effective energy supplier for your home or small business, there are a number of steps that you can take to minimise your electricity expense.
According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, 40% of the energy consumed in Australia is used on heating and cooling systems, such as air conditioning. The same source also states that for every degree that you increase your heating or cooling settings, energy consumption increases by up to 10%. This means that if you are able to control your climate in other ways, such as by closing doors to rooms that aren’t in use, ensuring that joints are properly sealed, and installing high-quality insulation, you can save a significant amount on your energy bill.
A further 25% of energy consumption in Australia is accounted for by hot water usage. By utilising more energy-efficient hot water facilities, such as economical showerheads and modern water storage systems, you can save even more on your monthly energy expenditure. Another useful tip is to ensure if you are heading away from home for a lengthy period of time (generally longer than a week) that your hot water storage system is turned off until you return, thereby saving the energy that would be wasted by keeping it hot in the meantime.
Up to 30% of Australia’s energy consumption is used to power appliances, which can include anything from computers, TV sets and hairdryers to refrigerators, washing machines and phone chargers. Often, it can be worth investing in newer, more energy-efficient appliances, rather than relying on older technology that chews through electricity. Additionally, many people do not realise that appliances continue to use power even when they have been turned to standby mode – this can in fact account for up to 3% of all energy usage – so try to remember to switch your appliances off at the wall when you have finished using them.
Finally, lighting accounts for between 8 and 15% of energy consumption. Try to utilise natural lighting where possible – for instance, by opening the blinds instead of turning on a lamp – and remember to turn off lights in any room that is not currently in use. Switching to LED lights can also make a big difference.
With the knowledge and tips in this article plus our handy online energy provider comparison tool, the power is in your hands.