South Australian householders must choose between about half a dozen gas retailers, and about 3 times as many electricity retailers. Each retailer may offer several distinct contracts, resulting in an overwhelming choice of between 80 to 90 different deals.
A good way to gather and sort this information is with energymadeeasy.gov.au. This website is presented by the Australian Government and the Australian Energy Regulator, and retailers are legally obliged to present all of their “generally available” offers on this site. (Just keep in mind, if you’re a concession holder or a member of a particular club or association, you may have access to offers that are not “generally available”.)
You will get the best results from Energy Made Easy if you enter a few details from your previous bills – dates and the amount of electricity or gas that your household used. The website will display offers for your area – make sure to compare peak tariffs (and off-peak or solar feed-in tariffs if applicable), supply charges and other key features (e.g. exit or late-payment fees). Each offer has an Energy Price Fact Sheet – a summary of the features, terms and conditions – that can be used to compare deals.
Many electricity and gas deals offer discounts. When looking at these, it’s important to ask – discount off what? Look at the base prices as well as at the size of the discount – a deal with high starting prices and a 25% discount could cost more than a deal with a 10% discount that is applied to a lower starting price. Also, check whether the discount will be applied to just the usage charges, or to the usage AND supply charges.
Price is not the only way to choose an energy plan. You may also wish to consider the customer service or environmental reputation of the retailer, and the quality of its hardship policy.
Once you have done some research on competitive energy offers, you may choose to invite your current retailer to match their competition’s offers. In this case, a new discount can be applied from the date you contact your retailer, rather than having to wait until the meter has been read. This can be a good idea if you have an existing debt with a retailer, as that debt will become payable if you switch to another retailer.