Blog Post Wednesday 19 September 2018
Whether you're moving house or seeking a more competitive energy plan, finding the right energy provider doesn't have to be a stressful process. By following these steps, you can find a gas or electricity plan that you're happy with, you're not paying too much for, and so that you don't find yourself switching again soon.
1. Ask for an Energy Price Fact Sheet
Under the law, energy companies are required to provide Energy Price Fact Sheets (EPFS) (recently the name changed in some states to a Basic Plan Information Document) to help customers understand and compare offers. As a consumer, the EPFS is a valuable sheet of information that allows you to quickly understand the key terms of the contract. You still need to read the fine print, but the EPFS helps you understand the key terms at a glance. The information on your EPFS includes the following.
2. What type of contract is it?
Something else to consider is the type of contract being offered. Retailers typically offer two main types of contracts. If it's a standard retail contract, it comes with model terms and conditions set by the law. This type of contract usually has no exit fees and it allows you to switch to another type at any time. The prices can be changed only once every six months.
If it's market retail contract, the retailer is offering you market prices, and so the contract is not based on model terms and conditions. Whichever you choose, make sure you understand the fine print.
Other types of contracts include fixed bill versus fixed price. The fixed bill contract charges you a fixed amount regardless of your usage, while the fixed price contract is based on your daily supply charge, plus your usage multiplied by the unit price. The fixed price contract is far more common.
3. Understand discounts
Some retailers will offer attractive discounts but take time to do the maths and work out what you're really saving. Whether it's sign-up discounts, pay-on-time discounts, direct-debit discounts, or so-called unconditional discounts, consider the incentive in the context of rates, contract period, and fees and charges. Think about how much you're really saving over six months, 12 months, or longer, and whether the discount stops applying after the first three months, for example.
4. Ask the key questions
The EPFS will help you understand the key terms of the contract, but you'll probably have more questions about your contract and the retailer. Some of the additional questions to ask include the following.
5. Read the fine print
Once you sign the contract, you'll be subject to the terms and conditions, so make sure you double check the contract. Take time to read through the fine print, and ask the retailer about anything you don't understand. Get advice if necessary.
Making the right choice
Whether it's your gas or electricity, finding a new provider and plan you're happy with takes a bit of research. The most important steps in the process is to understand the contract, consider discounts in terms of long term costs, and make sure you're clear on the key terms. If you follow these steps, you'll likely end up with a competitive contract and possibly save more on your energy costs.