Yet more evidence that loyalty rarely pays this week as we review power bills and phone plans.

The Australian Financial Review reported on ACCC findings which reveal that the biggest 3 energy retailers – Origin Energy, AGL and Energy Australia, rely on their 17 million most-loyal customers to drive their profits. These are the “sticky” long-term customers who don’t switch and never ask for discounts.

The report shows that the squeaky-wheel customers who switch, or threaten to switch, are given incentives to come back or to stay. Often the prices they’re offered are below the prices publicly offered in the providers’ campaigns, even below cost price. And these deals are being subsidised by the higher rates paid by sticky, long-term customers.

So if you qualify as sticky, it’s time to get mouthy and tell your provider you’re switching. What could you save? According to CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey quoted in May 2018, Australians are overpaying by an average of $324 annually per household, which is why CHOICE introduced their Can I Save On Energy tool. As Godfrey said, “Unless you keep changing your electricity provider, you are highly unlikely to be on the best available deal.”

Save on your heating

Since we Australians spend 40 per cent of our annual electricity bill on heating and cooling, and another 23 per cent on water heating, the most obvious way to save on our bills is by cutting down on our energy consumption: having shorter showers, turning the heater down, etc.

Cutting your standby power consumption (i.e., turn off the air con, TV and microwave at the wall when not in use) could also save your family $93 a year.

Choosing the right heater will help too. CHOICE compare two 5kW reverse-cycle air conditioners and show how you can save $134 a year in running costs if you choose one model over the other.

Make sure you use energy rating labels when choosing appliances. Look for high energy ratings – the more stars, the more energy efficient. Also, the lower the energy consumption number on the item, the less it costs to run. An average Australian household saves about $6 per week (more than $300 per year) using energy-efficient appliances.

Turn the heater off – and get walking!

Warm up cheaply this winter with lots of brisk walking! Discounted label sneakers at DealsDirect include Skechers & Reebok – up to $55 off.

Sneaker Collective has big savings on Reebok, Saucony, Nike, New Balance, Element – up to $300 off some women’s styles, and up to $225 off men’s styles.

And if Converse is more your thang, they’ve got up to $55 off various men’s and women’s pairs.

Unlimited data from Telstra – it’s coming

In a bid to beat off agile new mobile rivals and in anticipation of the launch of Australia’s 5G networks, Telstra has announced its first unlimited data plan, as reported in the Australian Financial Review this week. You’ll pay $199 a month to use as much data as you want at full speed, or less, if you can deal with slower speeds once you’ve reached a cap.

Meanwhile TPG will offer an unlimited data plan (no standard voice calls) free for six months, before charging customers $9.99 per month… $189 cheaper than Telstra’s premium plan; but Telstra believes it will win on “better service underpinned by its network investments” as well as “plan simplicity and cost certainty”.

Meanwhile, phone comparison site WhatPhone predicts that data pricing will continue to fall in 2019.

Moose leading the charge on phone plans

If you’re looking to switch providers, you might want to look at Moose Mobile. WhatPhone awarded them “Best Plans Overall” in their 2018 awards.

Money Magazine also gave Moose Mobile their 2018 Gold Award for Best-value Mobile Plan based on its $34 per month cost, with unlimited calls and 10GB of data.

Spec-tacular savings

Appreciate fashion-forward frames, but tired of paying $250 to $500 for the privilege?

Some of the newer glasses chains know that you want to look cool, but don’t want to splash that much cash. For instance Bailey Nelson design their own frames so you pay only $145 – $175 per pair, saving you up to $300 on the “designer” versions. The quality is good and if you buy two pairs, the second pair is $40 off. (Your health fund might give you more off the cost too, depending on your extras deal.)

Dresden make one basic style available in different sizes with modules you can swap around; and some of their frames are made out of recycled plastic – go sustainable! Frames are $49 – $99 including the prescription, saving you up to $400 over those luxury brands.

And then there’s Specsavers, who offer women 2 “designer” pairs for $199; and men get 2 pairs from $149 complete with standard single vision lenses. Specsavers are very cheap, but you don’t get the same broad choice of cool specs, and the quality can be patchy.

(Depending on your prescription, your lenses may add a substantial cost to the above.)