How to switch energy supplier

Are you overspending on your energy bills? If you haven't reviewed your energy plan lately, you might be paying more than you need to. Electricity costs have been a major concern for many Australians, especially with the fluctuations in prices over the past decade.

Across Australia, most consumers* now have the freedom to switch their energy supplier if they are unhappy with their current plan or provider, thanks to market deregulation. In WA, two electricity providers serve different areas with no switching between them.

The gas market is competitive. Regional QLD allows switching depending on location. In the Northern Territory, Jacana Energy dominates as the government-owned supplier for electricity and gas, requiring an interval metre for switching. However, the process and potential fees involved in switching can be confusing for many households.

This increased focus on energy bills coincides with the Energy Regulator's upcoming requirement for power companies to notify customers about potential savings by switching to a different energy plan.

Can I change my provider?

The very first question to ask yourself before you change an energy provider is to figure out whether you’re able to. We’ve already touched on the fact that most consumers can change provider, but this handy table should help:

StateCan I switch electricity provider?Can I switch gas provider?
ACTYes, regulated market with little pricing variationYes
NTYes, Jacana Energy and Rimfire Energy; interval meter neededYes
QLDYes, SEQ only. Regional QLD regulated with limited competitionYes
TASYes, regulated market with little pricing variationYes
WANo, only two providers across the state and cannot switch between themYes

How to switch energy providers

Switching energy providers is a straightforward process but it requires careful planning. Here's a checklist to guide you through the process:

Check for exit fees

Review your current plan's terms to see if you'll incur any fees for switching before your contract ends. Even if there are fees, compare them against potential savings to determine if switching is financially beneficial.

Review rates and discounts

Understand your current usage rates and any discounts applied to your account. This knowledge will help you evaluate new plans more effectively.

Settle outstanding bills

Ensure you've paid any outstanding bills with your current provider. You can't switch if you have overdue payments or a financial hardship agreement in place.

Think about what you need

Take a close look at your energy consumption patterns. Compare your energy bills from the last year to determine your typical usage and how it fluctuates throughout the year. This information will help you choose a plan that suits your needs.

Contact Compare Energy to compare plans

Research and compare different energy providers to find the best deal. Look beyond just the price and consider factors like contract terms, customer service, and green energy options.

Talk to your provider

Once you've selected a new provider, contact your current provider to inform them of your decision to switch. The team can guide you through the process and arrange for the switch to take place.

It's important to note that your electricity or gas supply will not be interrupted during the switch, ensuring a seamless transition.

Why should you switch energy suppliers?

Switching energy providers can offer several benefits. When moving homes, it's a good time to reassess utility costs and explore other options but you don't have to wait to move house to switch.

There are always good reasons to choose to switch to a new energy provider, and those include:

  • Budget. It’s important to find competitive pricing, especially if your current service is becoming too expensive.
  • The environment. Switch to a provider offering renewable energy if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Better flexibility. Look for plans without penalties for early termination or changes, or ones that allow you to lock in rates for a set period.
  • Solar rebates. If installing solar panels, compare feed-in tariffs or switch providers to take advantage of solar electricity rebates.
  • Customer service. Seek providers known for great customer service for your electricity or gas.
  • Consolidating services. If you find it hard to track bills, consider a single supplier for gas and electricity, which can lead to discounts and simpler bill management.

Each Australian state or territory has different options for switching energy suppliers, so it’s always smart to check what your state is offering before making any decisions.

How long does switching energy providers take?

Switching your energy provider has become a much faster process, taking only two business days compared to the lengthy three-month wait in the past.

This means you can benefit from new prices and perks sooner, potentially saving on your electricity bill. However, switching gas providers can still take up to 90 days because of metre reading schedules.

If you have separate gas and electricity providers, your accounts may switch on different dates unless a special metre read is requested. Your new provider will handle all communication with your current provider.

During the switch, you will still receive energy as usual and will receive a final bill from your previous provider for the period before the switch. Customers can switch energy providers at any time during their contract, but they might face exit fees. It's important to review the fine print to avoid unexpected charges.

Things to consider

When choosing an energy plan and provider, it's important to consider several factors:

  • Discounts or fixed rates: Some plans offer discounts or fixed rates for a period. While a fixed rate can protect you from price rises, you may face termination fees if you switch to a cheaper deal.
  • Market offer: Check if you're on a Market Offer for electricity, which is often cheaper than the Default Market Offer (DMO) or Victorian Default Offer (VDO). Market offers include discounts, incentives, and other perks.
  • Electricity rate per kWh: This is the cost you pay for each unit of electricity you use. It's crucial to compare this rate between different providers to ensure you're getting a competitive price.
  • Fixed supply charges: These are the charges for being connected to the energy grid, regardless of how much electricity you use. Understanding these charges can help you assess the overall cost of your energy plan.
  • Late fees: Knowing the late fees for not paying your bill on time and any pay-on-time discounts offered by the provider can help you manage your energy costs effectively.
  • Billing: Consider how often you receive your energy bill and the available payment methods. Some providers offer discounts for receiving bills electronically or paying by direct debit.
  • Gas considerations: If you have mains gas, consider whether it's cheaper to move both your electricity and gas to the same retailer. Some providers offer discounts for bundling services, but it's essential to compare the underlying rates to ensure you're getting a good deal on both.
  • Customer service: Look for a provider with efficient customer service, available via phone or online.
  • Eligibility for concessions: If you hold certain cards or receive specific payments, you may be eligible for energy rebates and concessions. Consider these when comparing plans.

Can I cancel if I change my mind?

Absolutely. Once you've signed up with a new energy provider, you'll have a cooling-off period during which you can cancel the agreement without any fees.

This period usually lasts for 10 business days starting from the day after you receive your welcome pack from the new provider.

Just get in touch with your new provider within this timeframe to cancel your plan hassle-free.

Contact Compare Energy

If you’re in the market for a new energy provider and you want to make the switch, why not have a chat with one of our friendly advisors? Call us today and we’ll talk you through your energy needs.