It’s that time of year again – the temperature is dropping and it’s dark by 5:30pm, meaning electricity bills are going up.

But this winter, electricity bills will be getting a double whammy due to the fact that we’re all home pretty much all the time (thanks, COVID). This winter it’s more important than ever to compare retailers and make sure you’re getting the best price for your electricity.

Since the ACCC’s inquiry into electricity pricing in 2018, prices have dropped slightly and standardised somewhat across the board. There are also a flock of new, smaller energy providers that have entered the market – increasing competition and keeping prices competitive.

But global prices have been dropping across the board and, according to Schneider Electric’s Lisa Zambredt there should be lower prices for the next 12 months. The ACCC has put power companies on notice it will be watching their prices through July.

In most parts of Australia (except the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia and most of Queensland), you have a choice of electricity retailers. The Australian Government’s Australian Energy Regulator offers a handy comparison tool called Energy Made Easy that lets you plug in details about your living situation and estimates which plans are best for you – letting you switch and save.

For example, the Energy Made Easy tool estimates that a two to three-person home with a smart meter in central Sydney (no solar, no pool) could be paying $1820 per year on a Discover Energy Residential Electricity Plan on a time-of-use tariff. They also charge a 1% credit card fee, a $12.24 new connection fee, a $12.24 disconnection fee and a $9.50 debit dishonour fee (always watch those fees!).

If that household switched to Powershop’s Shopper Market Offer, they could slash their annual bill to $1,400 (with available discounts, $1,650 without). They would also avoid fees except for the one-off $12.24 connection fee. This is also the cheapest option if you want to pay monthly at $120 (plus the connection fee).

As an added benefit, Choice named Powershop the most green energy provider in the country so you can skip some of the guilt over the heater this winter.

If you’re after a single-rate tariff, Discover Energy’s Ausgrid Residential Single Rate Standing Offer at $1860 plus fees.

Comparatively, Mojo’s All Day Breakfast plan also comes in at $1400 per year, but with an account establishment fee of $40.00, disconnection fee of $12.24, late payment fees of $12.00, dishonour fees of $14.00 and a special meter read fee of $12.24.

Consumers might be better off with ReAmped’s Handshake Anytime plan at a slightly higher $1410 but with a lower new connection fee of $12.24, credit card payment fees of 1%, late payment fees of $12, and a disconnection fee of $12.24.

If you’re just looking at gas bills, it might not make as much sense to switch for the purpose of saving. Connection and disconnection fees are so high, with not a lot of difference between prices.

For the same two to three-person household, new player Amaysim’s Gas As You Go plan offers the best gas rates, estimated at $710 per year (plus new connection fee of $14.80, credit card payment fees of 0.6%, late payment fees of $12, disconnection fee of $152 and reconnection fee of $14.80). The most expensive provider is CovaU’s Residential Gas Jemena plan at just $800 (plus a new connection fee of $16.28, late payment fees of $15, disconnection fee of $167.20, reconnection fee of $171.60, dishonour fee of $9.50 and credit and debit card payment fee of 0.82%).

When you’re comparing, be sure to check the following:

  • Price in cents per kilowatt hour (c/KWh).
  • The daily supply charge – when comparing offers, check whether they’re comparing the same number of days.
  • Any extra fees such as late payments or early contract termination.
  • What bonuses or savings are available and how to qualify for a discount. An early payment discount won’t help you if you regularly struggle to pay bills on time.
  • Billing and payment arrangements like direct debit options and credit card fees.
  • Whether it’s time of use or single rate – consider when you tend to be home using electricity.
  • Contract conditions – will you get slammed with a fee if you want to switch and save again later.

Energy Made Easy can only estimate bills and every situation is different, but switching your electricity provider could be one of the easiest ways to save this winter and in the future.

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