Tenants Guide: Switching Energy Plans
Whether you currently living on one or are about to move into a new rental property one of the factors to consider is to have affordable electricity that fits your lifestyle and budget. Not sure if you have the best deal? Don’t know where and how to start? You’ve reached the right place to know better.
Here are few guidelines for you:
- Can I choose my energy provider if I’m renting?
This depends on where you live and who is responsible for paying the energy bills at your property. If you live in a place within Victoria, NSW, South Australia and South East Queensland with deregulated energy market you can choose your preferred energy provider that offers a range of different plans and incentives to sign up.
Carefully read tenancy agreement before signing, it’s also important to ask about the property’s power supply and who is responsible for paying bills. If energy bills are included in the rent or paid by the owner, you will likely not be able to pick or switch energy providers.
- What if I don’t live in a deregulated market?
If you live in Northern Territory, Tasmania or Part of Western Australia with a regulated energy market you don’t have any option to pick from different energy providers. You’ll have to stick with the plan and price that are offered by the state government.
- What if I live in a place with embedded electricity network?
Embedded networks are increasingly common in residential apartment blocks where the building owners have an agreement with an energy provider to supply energy to all properties in the complex and individual residents are not able to switch.
- Are there specific energy plans available for a tenant like me?
You will be able to choose any plan from any provider that services your area, same as for those who own a property. But some energy providers offer plans for tenants. These plans could come with: No lock-in contract or exit fees and No connection, disconnection or reconnection fees, you can also take the help of an energy broker. Read more about it here.
- What if a smart meter is installed at the property?
If there is a smart meter installed at the property you will be able to select from plans which are tailored specifically to their use like a plan that offers flexible off-peak pricing. However, if property only has a traditional meter you should make no attempt to change it or upgrade since the type of meter is determined by state authorities or the energy distributor and is a matter for the property owners. To understand the different types of meters and the rates click here.
- What if the property has solar panels?
If the property has solar panels and you’ll be responsible for energy bills, you’ll for sure sign up to a plan with a solar feed-in tariff and benefit from any savings. Clear this thing first with your lessor before signing any agreement.
- What should I look in for in an energy plan?
Make sure you pick the best energy plan for you, try to identify, study features and discounts such as stated below:
- Cheapest Rates: Read Price fact sheets. Check all usage and supply charges that you will need to pay, including any differences in peak and off-peak usage costs.
- Introductory Offers: Some energy providers will have “sign up offers”, like $50 off on your first bill. Promotions like this may be a good point when comparing similar plans with other providers but still, it’s best to look for an energy plan that will result in lower energy bills over the whole year, not just your first bill.
- Discounts: Giving out different kinds of discounts have become the main marketing tool of energy providers. Some retailers reward customers for paying on time by offering high regular discounts on every bill that is paid on schedule. Another is direct debit discount an easy way to save money off your bill and avoid late payment fees, get your payment amount automatically deducted from your account and you’ll get an extra discount. These discounts are still good to consider as they have the potential to help you cut your overall costs provided you stick with the conditions.
- Convenient bill cycles/options: You can look for a provider that offers flexible payment options in terms of fortnightly or monthly bills. You may prefer not to receive estimated bills or would like to consider bill smoothing or fixed cost payments. You can choose an option on how you want to receive your bills, either via email or post- some charge extra for paper bills.
- Convenient payment options: Some energy providers give the choice of paying monthly or quarterly, while others only allow quarterly payments. In case you have a specific payment plan request, ask before you agree to a contract.
- Renewable energy: Looking for environment-friendly alternatives to electricity produced from coal? Some have renewable energy plans that give you the option to select a percentage of your electricity usage to be generated from renewable sources. These plans will be a little more expensive than the cheapest plan available.
- Customer service: It’s important to have someone who picks up the phone when you call, to answer your questions or address your concerns. It’s hard to judge a provider in terms of customer service before you sign up! That’s why it’s a good idea to read customer reviews to see how existing customers currently rate their providers.
There are some other factors that are more relevant to tenants looking for the best energy deal:
- No exit fees: Some offer plans with open contracts, you’re free to quit or switch to another provider whenever you want without having to pay an exit fee. Others offer fixed-term contracts usually on a 24-month contract. If you’re renting, best to get a plan with no exit fees or early termination fees otherwise you could end up paying additional money if you need to switch before the end of a term.
- No connection or reconnection fees: Imposed by distributors for connecting or reconnecting a home to the energy grid but some retailers absorb these costs for customers. Be sure to check what you will be charged for moving in or moving out because these fees can quickly add up to your bill.
- Is it cheaper to get both energy services from the same provider?
If the property has both, sign up for both services with the same provider for convenience. But that’s not always the cheapest option. Many retailers offer special discounts on dual fuel, you can find an overall cheaper deal by sourcing from different providers.
- How can I save on my energy bill?
It can be difficult to determine how much your bills are going to be when you’ve just moved in. It’s a good idea to get a plan with no exit fees so you can test the waters first. Get into the habit of comparing plans every 6-12 months to see if better deals available. You can also save by reducing the amount of energy usage at home. Check tips on energy efficiency here
- Is it easy to change energy providers?
Whether you just rent or own the place switching provider is very easy. Once agreed with the terms they’ll organize everything for you- contact your existing provider, inform of change and organize final reading with the distributor. Remember that, after you have agreed to the terms with your new provider, you will have a cooling off period (usually 10 days) to review everything. Once the final bill is received from the old provider, billing from the new provider will start.
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