‘Huge problem’: Aussies upset with energy bill rip-off, but many could save hundreds in minutes

Most Australians aren't getting value from their energy deal but many still don't switch, new data shows.

Most Australians aren't getting value from their energy deal but many still don't switch, new data shows. Photo: Getty

Australians say they are being ripped off more by their power companies than supermarkets, but despite that almost half haven’t considered switching their retailer over the past year.

That’s according to figures from Energy Consumers Australia, which on Wednesday published interviews with dozens of families about how they have handled soaring energy bills.

Just 55 per cent of consumers feel they’re on a good electricity plan, an accompanying survey of 2000 people found – down 4 per cent from 2023 and also lower than supermarket’s value ratings.

“I tell the kids to turn things off PCs, laptops, lights, etc,” one struggling parent told the study.

“I’m looking at additional income streams apart from my full-time job.”

‘Huge problem’ for energy bills

The consumer dismay is easy to understand; Electricity prices have soared over the past few years, with some degree of relief only just starting in the form of subsidies and easing prices.

But to make the most of those savings consumers need to be on the ball, with the survey also revealing only half of households thought about switching their electricity plans in the past year.

Joel Gibson, a campaigner at One Big Switch, said that finding is a “huge problem”.

“If you haven’t switched plans or providers since the record price hikes of July 2023, you’re probably now paying hundreds more than you have to,” Gibson explained.

The main reasons consumers gave for not switching retailers was that the process is time consuming and complicated, with one Victorian complaining about the burden on families.

“The energy market is driven by greed,” they said.

“Gone are the days that if you stayed with a company you would get a loyalty discount.

“Unfortunately now us as the consumer need to be constantly on the ball trying to chase a better deal.”

Hundreds in savings on the table

There’s no way around some degree of paperwork when shopping for or switching energy deals, but it also isn’t as complicated or difficult as many people fear, either.

Canstar Blue editor-in-chief Christine Seib said many Australians “might be surprised” to find that switching is “usually less complicated and time-consuming than feared”.

“First, look at your current energy bill, contract or product information documents to make sure you’re aware of exit fees, disconnection or connection fees, final meter reading fees and any other charges that you might face if you switch,” Seib explained.

“Look, too, for any discounts you could lose if you end your contract before a certain time frame.”

A series of federal and state government market reforms in recent years have also made the process easier, including public comparison websites and laws forcing improved transparency.

“Check the box on the front page of your bill that says if your provider has a cheaper plan,” Gibson said.

“This is now mandated in most states.”

You might find an even cheaper deal at a competitor, so it’s always worth visiting – the taxpayer-run tool that will find you the best deals.

“Pick one of the cheapest and switch,” Gibson said.

“It takes less than 10 minutes to complete the form. It could be the easiest $500 you’ve ever saved.”

Switching steps

Seib has a handy list for consumers as well that you can run through to ensure you haven’t missed any steps:

  • Review your current plan for fees or charges that will be applied if you switch
  • Consider your household’s energy needs to decide the type of plan that best suits
  • Compare energy plans on one or more free sites, including the government’s Energy Made Easy site
  • Choose a plan and start the switch process either online or by phone
  • Use the 10-day cooling off period to make sure you’re happy with your decision to switch
  • Expect a welcome pack from your new provider
  • Expect a final meter reading and bill from your old provider
  • Expect your next bill to come from your new provider
  • Don’t set and forget! Review your energy plan regularly to ensure it still offers the best mix of price and features.
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