Within Australia there are differences between the States and what is available from an Electricity prices point of view. In NT, WA and TAS there is no choice as to which energy retailer you can go with as there is only 1 option for your gas and electricity supply. As such we are unfortunately unable to service people in these States. However in VIC, NSW, SA and QLD the electricity prices are deregulated allowing it to become a more competitive space for energy retailers. As a result, these States have choice for their electricity providers. And while options are always good, the know-how to properly compare them has become ever more crucial. Knowing exactly what to look for when comparing electricity plans leads you to the best electricity deals and savings for you and your family.
CompareEnergy knows that deciphering the fine print in most electricity plans can be hard to do. There are many hidden terms and conditions that can be confusing and misleading. And we can imagine that all this makes it even harder to compare one plan over another, especially if they’re from different retailers. We knew we had to find a way to make the electricity plan comparison easier for you. This was the only way to help you make the most informed decision possible.
Before we go into the details of how to compare electricity plans, it is worth noting that all retailers source all their electricity from the National Electricity Market. However, retailers are given the freedom to price their services as they see fit because they are responsible for connecting their customers to the grid, ensuring their supply, billing them, and offering any additional complimentary services that they are able to provide.
That given, let’s proceed with the essential details to look for when comparing electricity plans:
When checking an electricity plan, customers should be very clear on the following:
Price per kWh
Discounts (i.e. pay on time and electronic billing)
Potential Fees (i.e. credit card payment and exit fees)
Contract Length/Benefit Period
If you’re unhappy with your current plan but happy with your current provider’s services, asking them to match a competitor plan you find on CompareEnergy is a possibility. Your current provider may match the offer to win you back.
Rates are divided into 2 parts:
Supply charge - is the amount you get charged no matter how much electricity you use and is charged per day
Usage charges - is the amount of electricity you use and is charged per kWh
Electricity usage rates are then charged differently based on the setup of the meter at your property. The standard breakdowns are single rate, two rate, or time of use.
Single rates are the most common type and may also be referred to as Anytime or Flat rate. With a single rate meter the same rate is charged for electricity consumed at any time of the day or night.
Two rate meters are able to charge at 2 rates called peak and off-peak electricity usage and often have a dedicated circuit or controlled load which measures the usage of a dedicated appliance such as a hot water service. The peak rates are more expensive and are charged for the days and hours with the most electricity demand. The off-peak rates include late at night, on the weekends or only measure the usage of the dedicated appliance and are usually charged at a lower rate.
Time of use plans go one step further from the two rate plans and make use of peak, off-peak, and shoulder rates depending on the time of day of electricity use.
The rate structure may also have steps or blocks. This means that different blocks of your electricity usage may get charged at different rates.
Currently, the meter options for consumers are dumb meters and smart meters (or interval meters).
Dumb meters are standard mechanical meters, while smart meters which have now been rolled out across Victoria are self-reading meters that transmit electricity usage information directly to the provider and the distributor every 30 minutes. The smart meter’s ability to do this negates the need for manual readers and may reduce connection and disconnection fees after the initial setup.
The smart meter also allows customers to maximise time of use plans since they can make better informed decisions on when to use electricity to get the most savings.
When choosing providers, apart from the prices and fees, it is worth looking into the other features that they can offer. Some of the most useful include: online account management, energy monitoring tools, customer service options (phone, live chat, and email) and reward programs.