Ask and you shall receive: $900m in potential electricity savings

Justine Landis-Hanley
·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alamy

Electricity prices have significantly fallen since last year, meaning that you could be saving hundreds on your annual energy bill.

New figures released this week by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission found that retail electricity offers for households in eastern and southern states are, on average, 8.8 per cent lower than they were in June 2020, coming to “$900m in potential savings for households”.

By switching plans, the average household could save $126 a year on its electricity bill.

Related: Australia's electricity predicted to be cheaper in 2023, helped by green power and lower gas prices

The only problem is that it is unlikely that your current electricity provider is going to call and offer to switch you to a cheaper plan themselves.

Kate Browne, editor-at-large of financial comparison website Finder.com.au, said many providers refer to these kinds of customers as “sleeping beauties’’ because they “just keep quiet and pay their bills”.

“Comparing energy plans can quite complex, or it can appear to be complex. And because of the complexity, a lot of energy retailers will make the most of customers who don’t ask for a better deal,” Browne said.

So, to make it easier, Guardian Australia has put together a list of steps you can take today to ensure you aren’t paying more for your electricity bill than you need to.

1. Work out what deal you are on

The first step is to figure out what kind of deal you have with your existing energy provider, according to Browne. If you have no idea what plan you are on, you can easily ring up your provider and ask them.

Browne recommends asking questions such as: Am I on a contract? How long is the contract period for? How does the contract renew? Are there any extra fees for late payments or for terminating the contract early?

2. Ask your retailer for their best offer

Once you know where you stand, you should ask your provider point blank what their cheapest offer is.

If the thought of demanding a cheaper deal from your provider fills you with dread, just remember that energy providers have a legal obligation to pass on reductions in their electricity costs to existing customers, or face fines of up to $10m per breach.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said the consumer watchdog was already “investigating whether electricity retailers’ current prices, including to their existing customers, are in line with recent wholesale price reductions, and if electricity retailers haven’t passed on the savings to consumers as required by law, they can expect to hear from us”.

3. Shop around for a cheaper deal

Finally, you should quickly compare the deal your provider has offered you with what else is on the market using comparison websites such as Finder or the Australian government’s energymadeeasy.gov.au.

Alternatively, Browne said, calling a few retailers for their best offer can lead to you getting an even better deal than those advertised online.

When doing this, you should ask the same questions you put to your own provider in step one: what are the terms of the contract? Are there any late or cancellation fees attached?

And when you have decided on a plan, set a calendar reminder to check that you are still on the best deal in a year’s time.

Browne stressed that now was the ideal time for customers to take control of their electricity plan. “People often get bill shock either in the height of summer or during the middle of winter. So do it now so you can benefit from those lower prices,” she said.

“Switching over is probably easier than you think. People think, ‘oh, it’s going to take ages’. But it’s often just about making a phone call or filling out a couple of forms online.”