Shop to cut your electricity bills
ENERGY bills are on the rise – up 16% from July 1. But your power bill doesn’t have to be.
Since the NSW Government sold off Country Energy and deregulated the industry, multiple retailers are now able to supply consumers with electricity and gas.
The result is that a growing number of retailers, often working through energy brokers, are saving Northern Rivers residents big bucks.
When contacted by The Northern Star, one broker, www.energywatch.com.au, said that so far 6000 people in the area had contacted the service and about half of that number had switched providers.
The service claimed it can save families up to $386 a year on their bills.
More than 80% of NSW residents are stuck on the higher default rate for electricity and paying more than they should, said Energy Watch marketing manager John Kouimtzis.
But an online search of energy brokers and power retailers revealed that there were deals everywhere, waiting to be had.
At www.goswitch.com.au, Melbourne-based entrepreneurs Ben Freund, who launched the broker service in 2008, claimed to save users an average of $340 annually.
He said 50% of households are on their gas or electricity supplier’s standard default plan, which means they’re paying the highest possible electricity prices.
Another free, independent power and gas price comparison and supplier switching service, where consumers can access discounted power, is www.switchwise.com.au.
At the AGL website, it is claimed switching to them could save you $300.
What was on offer: a $150 credit on your new account and a 7% discount on electricity usage charges for three years, the period of the contract, according to the website.
However, anecdotal evidence has suggested that many potential customers have been offered a straight 10% discount by AGL, without the voucher, and a cooling off period of nine days.
Most recently, customers switching to AGL from Origin Energy – which took over Country Energy’s retail business on March 1 when Country Energy became Essential Energy – have been poached back, with a $75 discount voucher on their first bill as well as a 10% discount and a cooling off period of 10 days, with a 12 month contract.
Mr Kouimtzis said: “Since entering the market and educating consumers that discounted rates are available, the market has had to meet these discounts which has resulted in a more competitive environment.
“Previously dominating retailers are now being forced to offer retention deals, something which may not have been present one to two years ago.
"Educate the consumer, and encourage them to shop around and be aware of all the terms and conditions of the contracts they are being offered.”
He said Energy Watch currently dealt with six retailers and was always looking to open new partnerships and that, like many energy brokers, was paid by a commission from energy retailers.
A meter reader for Essential Energy said that since charges for power went up, staff had been subjected to greater levels of abuse from customers.
“I tell them, my power’s gone up too,” he said.
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