Energy bills are one of Australians’ biggest household expenses. So how can we cut down on them?
Aussie households have already saved up to $430 a year thanks to reforms in the energy sector which kicked in on 1 July that saw default market offer prices lowered in a bid to stamp out the ‘loyalty tax’ paid by long-standing customers.
But Aussies stand to save even more if they turn their backs on the Big Three energy retailers, according to a report released recently by competition watchdog ACCC.
“Customers who do shop around should consider looking at retailers other than the ‘tier 1’ retailers AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin to see if they have the best deals for their circumstances,” the ACCC National Electricity August 2019 report said.
Less than two weeks into the new changes, the cheapest market offer was $290–$380 lower than the default market offer in NSW, $260 lower in South-East Queensland and $300 lower in South Australia.
The AER also found that smaller retailers were increasing their market share, with the biggest lift in switching rates being from ‘tier 1’ retailers to ‘tier 2’ retailers.
Which are the cheapest energy retailers?
To help Aussies figure out the best and most affordable energy plans for their needs, there are a range of electricity plan comparison sites such as Compare the Market, Canstar Blue, iSelect, and Energy Watch.
And while it’s difficult to give answers on which retailers are the cheapest as this hinges on a number of factors, the experts have a few names up their sleeves.
“The best energy plan and retailer for you is going to be completely dependent on how much energy you use and where you live – some providers don’t operate in certain states,” Finder energy specialist Ben King told Yahoo Finance.
He named ReAmped, Energy Locals and Powerclub as a few retailers offering competitively priced plans.
“Powershop is another smaller retailer with cheaper prices, they’ve also been rated as the greenest energy provider in the Green Electricity Guide, so you can save money while also doing your bit for the environment,” he added.
Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes cautioned against picking a familiar name when moving to a new home just out of convenience: the big energy retailers are often not the cheapest option.
“Taking a little time to compare plans and prices could see you saving a notable amount,” he told Yahoo Finance.
“The reality is that you’re getting the same energy through the same poles and wires regardless of which retailer you go with, so it pays to shop around. You could save a bundle, but also receive a better level of customer service and other perks if you choose one of the best smaller providers.”
But that doesn’t mean that smaller energy retailers are necessarily better, or cheaper, so be sure to check online reviews and compare prices, Downes added.
He also named Powerclub and ReAmped Energy as energy retailers offering cheap power deals, as well as GloBird Energy.
What to look out for
Don’t forget that if you sign up to a variable rate plan, prices can be changed at the drop of a hat, Downes said.
“So even if you sign up to a cheap deal today, you’ll need to pay attention and watch out for any price increases. Everyone should be reviewing their energy plan at least every three months,” he said.
According to Canstar Blue’s annual customer satisfaction ratings for electricity providers, the happiest NSW customers are Red Energy; the most satisfied Victorian customers are Tango Energy; Lumo Energy has the highest rating in SA; and Queenslanders rank Alinta as top of the pile.
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