15th Sep 2017
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The devil is in the detail with discounted energy offers
Author: Olga Galacho
signing contract

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.

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    les.61
    19th Sep 2017
    10:30am
    One other question to ask is why country people pay more for Electricity Supply than city people. For postcode 2000 the daily supply is 96 cents plus GST. In Bathurst it is 142 cents plus GST. So country people pay $167.90 per annum more than city people just to get the electricity to their home. And remember that a lot of country people live closer to the power stations so that cannot be used as an argument.
    pedro the swift
    19th Sep 2017
    11:14am
    Country people may be closer to power stations but remember the power has to go to the central control in the city first then it can be sent out to the country.
    Bellbird
    19th Sep 2017
    11:28am
    In many regional areas there is only one possible provider so the Feds offer completely useless advice in suggesting that we can avail ourselves of discounts. Doesn't Turnbull know anything?
    Grateful
    19th Sep 2017
    11:36am
    Very sound advice!!!
    That "discount" for early payment is a real factor in determining how "good" that discount really is.
    Many companies touting discounts in the high 30% only applies to the actual usage.
    The "Daily service charge" can represent a very large percentage of the full monthly bill and unless the discount applies to ALL of the bill, INCLUDING the daily service charge, you are really only getting a small percentage of the "discount" that is being advertised and that IS being provided by some suppliers.
    So, THAT should be your very first question as it makes a huge difference to your actual cost.
    Compare a 36% discount on a bill for, say, $100, including $36 for the daily service charge and $64 for the usage.
    36% discount on the whole bill leaves you $64 to pay.
    But, 36% just on the usage of $64 ($23) leaves you $77 to pay, a full 20% more.
    floss
    19th Sep 2017
    12:45pm
    What a mess our Government has caused ,under this business model power must keep going up. But what can you expect Australia is one of the most expensive country in the world and wages on the way down for workers not a great outlook and it has all happened in the last three years , you work it out.

    19th Sep 2017
    1:09pm
    Sign up to Origin
    Best power company in Oz
    Great prices and fantastic service
    FrankC
    19th Sep 2017
    9:56pm
    The important item in the latest Big Switch campaign is the daily service charge. I compared my bill using Powershop's figures, and even though they offered discounts and lower charge for power, the whole lot got knocked on the head by the service charge, which I think was around $1.10 per day. My neighbour was with Origin, he was paying $1.07 per day, until I showed him I was paying 49.9 cents per day. Red Energy is the answer.
    Anonymous
    19th Sep 2017
    10:09pm
    No you're wrong
    You obviously work for Red
    les.61
    20th Sep 2017
    8:40am
    Looked at Red Energy Price Facts Sheet and depending on which wholesaler supplies the electricity (and you do not get a choice) it can be 81 cents, 83 cents or 140 cents.
    Virginia
    24th Sep 2017
    10:55pm
    Watch out when you change retailers or change your power discount contract as in both my father and I lost our concession discount .AND it took forever to get it back. They do not move the concession advice to the new contract and then state that concessions have told them you are no longer eligable ...Straight out liars... Both AGL and Energy Australia were the culprits.


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