Looking for a new electricity provider?
Here at Electricity Monster, we've helped over 30,000 Australians find a sharp rate on their personal or business power connection.
However, one question we often get is:
“What exactly should I be looking for in a new provider?”
And we think it’s about time we talked about it with a bit more depth.
Maybe you’re seriously considering switching to a new electricity provider?
Or perhaps you’re just weighing up your options?
Either way, this list should get thinking in the right way.
- 1 1. Pay on time and direct debit discounts
- 2 2. What sort of tariff am I on?
- 3 3. What’s their customer service like?
- 4 4. Where does this provider's power come from?
- 5 5. Do they offer anything to make the experience easier?
- 6 All set? Time to compare retailers!
1. Pay on time and direct debit discounts
This is the big one, isn’t it?
How much am I going to have to pay to get my electricity through this provider?
Generally, electricity companies will offer a standing rate for their services.
And despite recent protestations from the ACCC, there is no standard standing rate for electricity across all the retailers.
At least not yet.
So that standing rate could be, quite literally, anything the provider wishes.
This is why pay on time discounts and direct debit discounts are so popular.
They act as an extra little bit of enticement to choose Provider A over Provider B.
Both of these discounts are exactly what they sound like they are.
Pay on time discounts are for paying your bill within a set period.
Direct debit discounts are for paying via direct debit, rather than as a bill payment or automatic payment.
One thing you definitely have to keep an eye out for when contemplating pay-on-time and direct debit discounts is the discount benefit period.
With most providers your pay-on-time or direct debit discount won’t be permanent, it’ll be for a set period of time.
Many people wake up to a nasty surprise in the mail once their discount benefit period expires.
So make you write down the date!
2. What sort of tariff am I on?
The electricity grid, and the system, in general, isn’t designed to be easy to understand.
Put simply your tariff is what sort of electricity usage scheme you’re on.
In certain areas and depending on how your meter is configured, you might have a single rate tariff, this means you’ll be paying the same rate all day, every day.
A single rate tariff is the most straightforward way your electricity usage might be charged, but it can get more complicated.
Another example of an electricity use tariff is peak, off-peak, and shoulder rates. This setup is also called a flexible tariff.
This would mean you’d be charged different rates at different times of the day.
Peak rates usually apply during the times where electricity usage is the highest, hence “peak”.
Off-peak is the opposite, a charge you’ll receive for use during low use times of the day, and it’s typically cheaper.
Shoulder rates usually apply for times in between peak and off-peak times.
Different states, providers, and regions have different tariffs, and sometimes even different names for their tariffs.
So make sure you know, that way you can figure out how much you could really be saving by switching providers.
3. What’s their customer service like?
You can’t put a price on good customer service.
Even if you’re just dining out at a restaurant, great customer service can make all the difference.
That’s why it pays to take a little bit of time and do a little bit of research.
Some companies don’t put a priority on making sure their customers' queries are handled politely, quickly, and when you need it.
Good phone manner and friendly customer service agents are one thing.
However, in the age of the internet, a company that can’t service your needs online might be lagging a bit behind the pack.
Take a look at your provider’s facebook page, if they even have a facebook page, and see if they respond quickly to messages.
Even if they do, oftentimes these will be automated messages so pay attention and see if it’s a real human on the other end.
Have a look at their website as well, see if you can send them an email and monitor how long it takes for them to get back to you.
There are lots of sites online where you can find out from real customers what sort of service they’re getting.
Taking the time to investigate the provider’s customer service fully can help prevent any headaches down the line.
4. Where does this provider's power come from?
Going green is all the rage right now but a lot of the energy industry is pretty slack about hitting Australia’s renewables targets.
It’s a sad fact that the lion's share of Australia’s energy output comes from coal and other dirty sources of power.
If you’re someone who cares about the planet this might be a concern of yours.
The truth is some providers really care and others just don’t.
Check out their website, most of them will have some sort of renewables section where you can find out what they’re up to.
Many providers are making good strides with wind, solar and in some isolated cases hydro.
It’s also worth noting that Greenpeace releases annual lists of Australia’s greenest energy providers, so track that down and get informed.
We should all do a part to keep this planet livable, that includes electricity retailers.
5. Do they offer anything to make the experience easier?
It’s the 21st Century but some providers act like you light your house with gas lamps and ride your horse to work.
These days there are so many different ways you can keep track of your usage, bill and other things related to your electricity connection.
One handy tool that some providers offer these days is an app you can download onto your phone.
These apps can show you accurate measures of how much energy you power through of a day, or even have real-time meters.
One thing that’s sometimes frustrating about electricity is it’s largely invisible, and it’s hard to quantify how much you’re using, as you use it.
An app like that can really help you keep things under control.
It’s always important to find a provider who wants to make your life easier because you’ve got enough to deal with without your electricity giving you a headache!
All set? Time to compare retailers!
All right you’ve scoped out a retailer you like.
Well, now you need to compare it to all the others, just to make sure you're getting the best deal we have available.
However, there are so many providers on the market, comparing so many could take forever.
That’s why making the call to Electricity Monster is the best decision you could make.
We offer a 100% Free Service and we compare the providers for you.
Not only that, we handle the changeover to your new electricity provider.
So you don’t have to lift a finger!
So, give us a call, our number is 1300 232 848. Our brokers can’t wait to hear from you.
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Benjamin Tom covers the retail energy market, with a focus on electricity, solar, and Internet. His interests include helping people navigate the complexities of the energy market while saving money on their power bills.