To help you find a great-value plan, we’ve compiled a guide that details what you should know about the changeover process before switching energy providers.
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Who can change their energy providers?
Residents in the following Australian regions can choose their electricity and gas suppliers:*
Some Western Australian (WA) residents can choose their gas provider if they live within the Perth metropolitan area. Tasmanians and those in the Northern Territory (NT) can choose between providers, but options are limited.
*Please note that the information provided on this page is only applicable to National Electricity Market (NEM) states and territories (i.e. NSW, QLD, ACT, SA, VIC and TAS).
Who can’t choose their electricity provider?
Residents in the below states and territories can’t change their electricity provider due to current regulations:
- Regional Queensland residents outside of the South-East
- Western Australians.
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Why should I change energy providers?
There are many benefits for those who switch energy providers at the right time. Moving homes is a common reason for changing providers, as it serves as a timely reminder to assess your current utility costs and discover what other options are available to you. However, if you’re not moving house, there may still be benefits to moving away from your current provider. For example, you might be interested in:
Finding a better price.
Comparing energy providers to find competitive pricing is an especially valid reason if your existing service becomes too expensive for your household budget. If your gas or electricity bill is rising, there may be a better energy deal available with another provider that offers discounts, perks or other incentives to keep costs down.
Aligning with a service provider who cares about the same things you do.
Perhaps you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint and use renewable energy or add some green energy with your existing provider.
Finding a plan with a flexible contract.
You may want a plan that doesn’t penalise you for terminating early or making changes, or a plan that allows you to lock in your rates for a set period.
Taking advantage of solar electricity rebates.
If you’re installing solar panels, you can add a feed-in tariff or compare different tariffs before changing electricity providers if you already have them.
Enjoying top-quality service.
Looking for great customer service for your electricity or gas provider could be another reason you would change.
Consolidating utility suppliers.
If you struggle to keep track of your bills, having a single supplier can help you keep on top of your gas and electricity bills. While they are billed separately, bundling your utilities can lead to discounts from the provider and the simplicity of only dealing with a single supplier.
Depending on which Australian state or territory you reside in, you may have different options when switching energy suppliers.
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How long will it take to switch energy providers?
Switching to a new electricity provider now takes just two business days, rather than up to three months like it used to take for the switching process in the past. This means you could take advantage of new electricity prices, discounts and perks quicker and start paying less for the electricity you consume. However, switching gas providers can still take up to 90 days due to meter reading schedules.
If you have different providers for your gas and electricity supply, your energy accounts may be transferred on different dates unless you or your provider requests a special meter read. Please note that your new provider will handle all communication with your current energy provider.
You’ll still receive your usual energy supply while switching energy providers. You’ll also receive a final bill from your previous provider for the period before the new provider took over.
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What should you look for in an energy plan and provider?
Most energy contracts differ slightly between providers and most of them come as a plan. Some plans may have renewable energy options built-in, while others may offer a discount or options to pay at different intervals.
Read through and compare each plan’s terms and conditions to understand the details and differences. Here are some basic points to look out for when choosing a contract:
- Does the contract offer a discount or fixed rate and period? When comparing energy plans, you’ll notice some providers offer discounts or fixed rates for a period. This fixed rate can be a good thing if energy prices rise in the market. However, you’re locked into your contract and may need to pay a termination fee if you wish to switch to a cheaper deal.
- Are you receiving a ‘market offer’ for electricity? The Default Market Offer (DMO) is available to residents and small businesses in NSW, SA, the ACT and SE QLD, while the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) is available in VIC. The DMO and VDO were introduced in 2019 to put a fair price cap on the maximum amount providers can charge you for electricity on standard offers (which you’ll be on if you’ve never moved to a market offer or your discounts, perks or incentives have expired on a market offer). Market offers are usually cheaper than DMO plans due to discounts, incentives and other perks. If you aren’t receiving a market offer, you could be missing out on potential savings.
- What is the provider’s customer service like? Be sure to consider how the provider handles service requests. Usually, you can complete service requests over the phone, but a growing number of businesses now offer online services for a more efficient customer experience.
- Are you eligible for any concessions on your energy plans? If you hold a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card, Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, state-issued or Commonwealth Senior Card or receive eligible Centrelink payments, you may be entitled to energy rebates and concessions. Keep an eye out for these concessions when you compare energy plans.
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What will it cost me to change providers?
It costs nothing to compare a range of energy providers through our free comparison tool. However, your current energy provider may require an exit fee if it’s included in the terms and conditions of your contract. If you’re subject to such penalties, you’ll need to weigh up the benefits of the savings compared to the costs of prematurely ending your contract term.
In some circumstances, you may save more money by waiting until your contract ends and then switching energy providers.
You won’t need to pay a connection fee when you switch energy companies unless you’re moving. If you are moving, your new provider charges a connection fee, they will include it in your first bill.
Remember: Any cancellation after the plan’s cooling-off period (typically 10 business days) may incur a termination fee from the energy provider if it’s stipulated in your contract.
Before deciding to switch energy suppliers, it’s worth reviewing your existing agreement and its terms and conditions, as well as contacting your current electricity provider for more information about any restrictions or penalties that may apply.
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Can I cancel my new energy plan if I change my mind?
After you’ve signed up for a new energy provider, you’ll have a cooling-off period to cancel the agreement without incurring any fees or penalties. This period begins the day after you receive your welcome pack sent to you by your new provider, and typically runs for 10 business days. Simply contact your new provider within this period to cancel your plan.
When’s the best time to switch energy providers?
Switching energy providers is a simple process. However, there are certain factors you must consider before switching. For instance, you may find it better to switch from your current contract before it’s renewed to avoid possibly renewing to a higher price with your current provider.
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How to switch energy providers: Your checklist
- Take stock of your current plan’s exit fees.
Review your current energy plan’s terms and conditions to determine if you could face any early exit fees for cancelling before your contract renews. Keep these termination fees in mind, even if the fee is less than what you’ll save by switching.
- Review your current rate and any discounts.
By understanding the usage rates and discounts currently applied to your account, you should have a clearer picture of what’s ‘good value’ when weighing up your current plan against others. This information may be on your bill, or you can contact your provider to find out.
- Ensure you have paid outstanding bills.
If your current energy provider is waiting for you to pay any outstanding bills or if you have a financial hardship agreement with your provider, you won’t be able to switch to another provider until you pay the outstanding debt. However, you can switch providers even if you haven’t completed your current billing cycle with your provider, so long as you don’t have overdue payments. You won’t be billed twice, as your current provider will send you a final bill that covers the period up to the switch date and then you’ll receive bills from your new provider. Note that the final bill could take up to a couple of weeks to be issued after the switch date.
- Determine your energy requirements.
Before comparing energy providers, it’s essential you understand your energy use and requirements before finding the right plan for your needs. For instance, a family of five will often have very different energy usage needs compared to a single resident who’s rarely home. A quick way to work out how much electricity and gas you typically use is to compare your energy bills from the last year. Doing so will give you an indication of how your energy usage changes across different seasons.
- Compare a range of energy plans.
Head to our energy comparison service and select whether you’re comparing electricity, gas or both, as well as if you’re moving. Then, follow the prompts, entering details about your home or business, including:
- Your home / business’ postcode
- Whether you have solar panels
- Your electricity and gas usage (if you have this information)
- Your name, email address and phone number.
Once you click ‘Get Prices’, you’ll be taken to our comparison page that shows any plans that apply to your energy needs, based on the information you provided.
- Select a plan to view its details. Be sure to carefully weigh up each plan’s pros and cons and avoid being swayed by discounts and attractive offers. These usually have a time limit, where your plan will revert to a higher rate at the end of this period (usually referred to as your renewal date). Be sure to check any new plans against your old one to ensure it’s suitable.
- Confirm the switchover once you’ve found the right plan.
Lock in your switch by applying through our online service or over the phone. Remember that electricity transfers can occur within two business days, but gas transfers can still take up to 90 days.
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