As a savvy and conscientious consumer, you want to know a bit more about the process of switching energy providers before making any hasty decisions. What happens next? When’s the best time to change retailers? And how long does it take to switch energy providers (i.e. electricity or gas retailers)?

A lesser utility comparison service would baulk at such questions – but not us. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the changeover process.

Why should you consider changing electricity providers?

The most common reason to change energy provider is when you’re moving into a new property. However, that’s really only the tip of the iceberg, and in reality there are many reasons why you might think about switching to a new electricity retailer. For example, you might be interested in

  • saving money,
  • solar electricity rebates,
  • getting your electricity from more sustainable sources, or
  • receiving better customer service.

How long will it take me to switch energy providers?

Efficiency is the name of the game in the modern business world, and as a result, many electricity retailers across Australia now allow their customers to change energy providers through online portals. This eliminates a lot of the time-consuming paperwork and applications that you previously needed to navigate by mail/telephone.

As a general rule of thumb, it can take up to three months to switch energy providers. Why does it take so long? Well, distributors only read your electricity meter every three months, so this timeframe is necessary in order for your new retailer to get an accurate reading before they start billing you.

Patience is a virtue, but if you really can’t wait that long, it’s sometimes possible to switch providers immediately. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a special meter reading on a specific date approved by your retailer. Be aware, however, that additional fees may apply if you decide to go this route – check with your new provider for more details.

When is the right time to switch energy providers?

Depending on the arrangement you have with your existing energy provider, you may incur a termination fee for cancelling your contract early. If you are subject to such penalties, you’ll need to weigh the benefits of the savings on your power bill compared against the costs of prematurely ending your contract. In some circumstances, you may save more money by waiting until your contract ends.

Are you eligible to switch providers?

If you live in New South Wales, Victoria or ACT and are wondering how to switch energy providers, we have good news for you: you are free to jump between retailers without worrying about government regulations.

If you live in South East Queensland or some parts of South Australia, you may be able to change electricity or gas suppliers, though you will face some restrictions.

Those living in Western Australia, Northern Territory, outside South East Queensland and beyond coastal South Australia are unable to switch providers, though it’s possible this could change at some point in the future.

Feeling a bit more confident about making the switch? Good. Check out our comparison tool to find out how much money you could save on your energy bill by switching electricity or gas providers.