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Maintaining a home

Are you on the best energy plan?

19 October 2018

No matter whether you live in an apartment, townhouse or mansion, paying utilities is part of everyday life and expenses. You’ve probably seen on TV or heard on the radio various energy companies offering ‘discounted rates’ and ‘green energy plans’, but how do you know if you’re on the best plan?

In some Australian states, average power prices have risen by more than 100% over the past 10 years, which means it is a more important time than ever to revisit your energy plan and question if you are getting the best deal.

How much am I paying for my energy?

Whether you receive your gas and electricity bills monthly or quarterly, your eyes will usually wander to the ‘amount owing’ before you check your bank account balance – which will be the end of your bill analysis.

What you really want to be looking for is your usage.

Given that bills tend to be seasonal, compare your bill to the same period the year before – not the previous quarter. This will tell you if you are paying more.

If you have air conditioners, your summer bill may be more than your winter bill as they chew up a lot of electricity. Conversely, if you have gas ducted heating, your gas winter bill may be more than your summer. Whichever way you are set up, your gas and electricity usage is what is going to affect how much you pay.

For your electricity bill, usage is tracked by kilowatt (kWh), your gas will show you your usage in Megajoules (MJ). Compare how much the kWh and the MJ are costing you compared to last year – don’t be surprised if the cost has gone up, but know that there may be energy providers out there offering energy for cheaper.

Once you understand your usage you’ll be able to see where you could save by reviewing costs. If there’s a better deal on the market it could be worth switching providers. Luckily online tools make this a simple and quick task.

Could you be saving with energy discounts?

Depending on who your energy retailer is, you may be offered a ‘pay on time discount’ or ‘pay online discount’. On face value, these seem like a great opportunity to save money.

On the other hand, get out your calculator and weigh up how much you are saving by paying online or on time compared to what you would save if you swapped providers and had a better rate for your energy. You may find that the ‘special’ discount you get doesn’t save you more at all.

Exiting your current energy plan

When you first signed up to your energy company, they would have sent you a contract or at least have it available to you online.

Check whether you have signed up for a fixed-term contract – like 24 months – or whether you are free to leave at your discretion. These rules change frequently. Many companies now have ‘no lock-in’ contracts and it’s common that people will switch energy providers as new deals come on to the market. Take a look at your agreement to see your personal situation.

Regulated and deregulated energy markets

Where in Australia you live may have a great impact on whether you can switch energy providers or not. For example, those in the ACT and Western Australia may not benefit much from switching as those states operate as a regulated market which controls energy pricing.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Information provided is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding this product. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.