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How to Switch Electricity Suppliers & Reduce Power Bills

By Lauren Leisk, Yahoo!7 Moneyhound Updated October 16, 2012, 9:00 am

With power bills in Australia increasing, knowing how to switch electricity suppliers and save money on energy bills is important for all households.


This can start with monitoring your own energy supplier. Understanding power and energy comparisons will also allow you to find the best deal on gas and electricity.



How do you determine the best energy supplier?


With so many companies vying for your business, choosing the best energy supplier takes some research. Moneyhound has taken the guesswork out of comparing energy suppliers with comparisons of gas and electricity plans to suit all Australians.


You may currently be using the default retailer for your region. Although this may be convenient, you could also be paying a higher rate. Moneyhound allows you to choose plan options from multiple suppliers in your area and select from a variety of packages and providers based on their prices for electricity and gas.


Monitoring your energy supplier and comparing energy plans can unlock hidden savings, typically around 15 to 20 per cent. With Australian energy prices soaring in recent years, the annual savings can be more than $400 in the first year for households in the habit of comparing energy plans.


The good news for Australians is that switching energy suppliers in this country is an easy process. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by switching energy companies and it’s only the bill that changes. The supply of electricity to Australian homes remains the same regardless of the retailer you choose.


While price is the main factor for most Australians looking to switch energy suppliers, you may also be looking for greener energy alternatives as part of your new plan. Moneyhound comparisons also offer the option to ensure you are choosing a plan that suits your budget while including renewable energy as part of your supply.


Related: How to be greener, cleaner and save money



Why switching energy suppliers could be the way forward


You don’t have to wait until the end of your plan or when you are moving house to switch energy suppliers. You can make the switch at any time. NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are in the top 10 global regions where people are switching energy companies everyday.


In Australia, there have also been reports of energy companies offering discounts in an attempt to keep customers from switching to a competitor. That shows how powerful it can be to do the sums on your gas and electricity bills and to make the online comparisons to get the best price.


Related: Benefits of the carbon tax



How are my energy bills determined?


Your electricity usage is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) while your gas is calculated in megajoules (MJ). To determine your household energy consumption, you can find your average daily energy usage on your bill. You can calculate your own average energy costs using load analysis or Moneyhound calculators for assessing daily use.


The times when you use the most electricity can also have an impact on your bill. Interval or time-of-use meters charge electricity to your home at peak, off-peak and shoulder rates.


Some two-rate meters have two registers for peak and off-peak use. You may get charged two different rates for the electricity you consume during the different time periods.


Customers who are charged one rate for their electricity may have controlled load or off-peak meters. These charge all electricity at one rate with the exception of specified appliances, such as hot water services, that are charged at off-peak rates.


Related: How to earn money from your recycling



Top tips for getting the most out of your energy supplier


1. Take your time with energy plan research


Never feel pressured to decide on the spot, especially with door-to-door salespeople or cold callers. Read and understand your energy plan before you sign up and make online energy plan comparisons to ensure you have all the facts.


2. Understand what is on offer


Take your time to read a summary of your plan. This explains everything you need to know about your new energy agreement so you know exactly what is being offered.


3. Embrace your power to change


If you are new to your energy supplier but not happy with them, you can still change your energy plan. For example, you have 10 business days to cancel an agreement made through door-to-door or telemarketing sales.


4. Compare the most plans possible


Not all energy services compare multiple products. Use a program that allows you to see the best and cheapest offers available on the market.


5. Look for full-service deals when switching energy suppliers


A switching service should be able to cancel your existing agreement and sign you up to a new provider once you have chosen an appropriate plan. Moneyhound allows you to compare a large number of energy suppliers and, using Switchwise, will make the switch on your behalf for free. Yep, using our switching service is 100% free. Try it now.


6. Understand your new obligations


There is no point switching energy suppliers only to be hit with higher fees and charges. Changing providers multiple times may incur cancellation costs. Paying on time is also a common condition that comes with great prices.


Related: Reduce your power bills - small steps to big savings



What other energy features can I use?


A service such as a smart meter can be useful to monitor your electricity use and potentially save in the long run. A smart meter is an interval meter that communicates with your electricity distributor and provides your usage information. Meter readers will no longer need to physically visit houses every quarter to read meters.


Green energy has also become popular for households to include as part of their new energy plans. However, because of the costs associated with green energy, it can be more viable to combine renewable energy with your existing power consumption.


If you have been hit with high energy bills in the past, it makes sense to start doing some comparisons of energy suppliers to see if some costs can be avoided. If you find there are savings to be had, making the switch today is easier than ever before.


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