12 Questions you should ask when switching energy retailers

Finally after about six months of summer, winter has finally arrived! And so with it, increased electricity bills. Heating and cooling account for a whopping 40% of energy use in the home! This is a great time to call around energy suppliers to find a better (greener) deal.

winter

First and foremost, my recommendation would be to follow the checklist in my Power Comparison post to cut down at the source… you! If you use less power, you will inevitably spend less money – which is what we all want right?! Secondly (and I know it’s not on everyone’s priority list), I highly recommend considering going with one of the greener choices as per The Green Electricity Guide. Renewable energy needs to be the way forward if we want to reduce our carbon emissions and ensure a sustainable future.

I have done some of the research for you (also in my Power Comparison post), but prices do vary depending on where you live, your personal circumstances (concessions etc.) and who your supplier is (mine is CitiPower), so it’s best to call a few places to check out deals tailored to you.

To make your jobs easier, here is a list of questions to ask when switching energy companies.

Before you call the energy company:

  1. How much energy are you using in kiloWatt hour (kWh) for electricity or Megajoules (MJ) for gas. You’ll be able to see this on your bill. The average 3 person household in Australia uses about 15 kWh of electricity per day. You have to consider this doesn’t take into account the actual size of your house, just the number of people living in it. So if you live in an apartment, you would hope that your consumption is a little less than someone in a five bedroom house, even if there are only 3 people. Also keep in mind some houses run things like spas, pools and slab heating that are sure to jack up the average, so just because you are average, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ok. If you’re like the 99.9% of the population that owns a fridge and leaves some of your appliances on standby, you will use electricity whether you’re home or not. We try to turn off most appliances at the switch, but we do have a medium sized fridge running round the clock, so even when we’re not home our usage is about 1.5 kWh per day.
  2. Which of these items in your house is electric and which is gas?
  • Heating
  • Water
  • Oven
  • Stove top

It helps to know this so you can see where your energy is being used. If your electricity bill is astronomical but your heating is gas, are you using a lot of hot water, or is there a fault in the seal on your fridge/oven? By getting to know how your house runs you’ll know where you can cut down on energy use.

3. Are you considering GreenPower? If so, are you better off going for a company that is more environmentally friendly, who only invest in renewable energy (e.g. Powershop, Diamond Energy) and buying the regular power, or are you happy to pay the premium for GreenPower no matter which company you go for? Consider what’s most important to you. I switch between GreenPower, Community Energy and plain old regular with Powershop, but the most important part for me is that I am with a company that represent renewable energy.

Calling the energy company

  1. What is the cost per kWh in cents (gas is Mj)? From this you’ll be able to calculate your average usage cost based on how much energy you’re already using.
  2. What is the cost of daily supply charge in dollars/cents?
  3. What discounts do they offer and what are the terms (pay on time, combined gas/electricity discount)?
  4. Does the discount include daily supply charge or just the cost of usage?
  5. If you’re going for GreenPower, what is the cost per kWh in cents and is excluded this from the discount?
  6. Do you pay more/less at peak/off-peak times? If you’re not at home during the evening (peak) time, then a plan with peak/off-peak might suit you better.
  7. Will you be locked into a contact or is it month to month/set billing period (e.g. 3 months)? If there isn’t a contact, this can be good if you want the flexibility to change retailers later on down the track.
  8. Is there an exit fee if you sign up to a contact?
  9. Are the prices variable or fixed? If they are variable, be weary about locking into a contract as they could hike them at anytime.

Finally:

  • Don’t be afraid to tell each supplier you’re shopping around, don’t feel presseured to sign up on the spot, regardless of the deal
  • Once you decide to switch, the new company you have chosen will do the rest for you (you don’t have to have an awkward break-up conversation with your current supplier)
  • Just remember, if you are sitting on the average usage for the number of people in your household… don’t settle for average, be better than average!

There you have it, hope this helps.

Good Luck,

Minimal Sam

 

 

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