Don’t get burnt by energy offers

If you are considering switching to a new energy retailer to get the most out of a discount offer, understanding the fine print is crucial to avoid being zapped.

Advertised discounts should not be taken at face value as the devil is in the detail.

First, check with your current provider if they have a better offer than the deal you are on. If it doesn’t match other discounts on the market, then ask if you are on a term contract and whether you need to pay an exit fee if you break it.

Before signing on with another retailer, ask for a written summary of the deal on offer. This is an energy price fact sheet which lists the tariff, for how long a discount will apply and details about fees.

Make sure the retailer is clear about if and when prices can increase and when they foresee the next hike will take place. If you agree to switch but change your mind later, you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 10 days.

Ask for the different types of tariffs to be explained so that you can choose the one that will match your pattern of energy use the most at the best price. Electricity charges are known as single rate tariffs, time of use tariffs and controlled load tariffs. Gas tariffs work slightly differently.

The Federal Government’s energymadeeasy.gov.au site has more tips on how to make the switch.

It asks you to consider the following questions:

  • What are the usage and daily supply charges? 
  • If there’s a discount, how does it work? For example, it could be off usage charges only, or it could be off the whole bill. 
  • If you sometimes have trouble paying your bill by the due date, a pay on time discount may not be the best option for you.
  • If there’s a contract term or benefit period, are there any exit fees for leaving before it expires? What are the odds you’ll want to cancel the contract before the end of the term or benefit period?
  • Do you want to support renewable energy by choosing an offer with GreenPower? If so, check whether the cost of GreenPower is competitive with other offers.
  • How often do you want to be billed? If you like an offer but you want a different billing frequency, ask the retailer. Monthly billing can make it easier to manage your budget.

Ensure you compare a few new offers before settling on one. Most Australian consumers can do this on the energymadeeasy.gov.au website. Victorians can find electricity offers at https://compare.switchon.vic.gov.au. For more information on WA deals, visit www.treasury.wa.gov.au/public-utilities-office, and for NT pricing go to the Utilities Commission.

Related articles:
How to cut power bills
Addicted to electricity

Written by Olga Galacho

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