How to switch energy providers
If you’re scratching your head wondering if you’re paying a good price for your gas or electricity, then you’ve probably considered switching to another provider.
Switching energy providers is fairly simple. But before you do, make sure you have the right information so that you can see a good deal for what it is, and make the switch even simpler.
Why should I switch energy providers?
There are plenty of reasons as to why you might want to switch energy providers. You might have been slapped with a huge energy bill that makes it seem like you’re not getting a good deal, or maybe the benefit period of your current plan is ending and your rates have gone up.
Whatever the reason, it’s good practice to make sure you’re getting the best deal. And contrary to popular belief, switching energy providers isn’t all that complicated.
You can read our article on how to choose an energy provider to learn more about why you might want to switch, and what to look for when shopping around.
Can I switch my energy provider?
Most Australians are able to choose their electricity and gas provider, but the amount of choice you have in choosing your electricity or gas provider varies state to state. This is because energy is regulated differently across the country.
Residents in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, South East Queensland, and Victoria have full retail competition. This means the energy sector is deregulated, so you can choose your electricity and gas retailer.
Those in Northern Territory and Tasmania can choose their energy provider, but they have limited options due to the smaller market. In regional Queensland and Western Australia, state governments regulate the energy sector, so customers can’t choose their energy provider (except some residents in Perth, who can choose their gas provider).
When can I switch energy providers?
You can change energy providers any time during your contract. However, you should check if there are any exit fees for doing so. Read the fine print of your plan to see if there are any hidden fees that might make you rethink switching retailers.
If you are charged exit fees, then you’ll need to weigh up whether the savings on a new plan are worth the costs of ending your contract early. In some cases, you may save more by waiting until your contract ends to switch providers.
Switching energy providers won’t leave you without power. You’ll still have access to electricity from the grid, even if you’re in the middle of switching.
How long does it take to switch energy providers?
Switching to a new energy provider takes up to two business days. Previously, switching energy providers took up to 90 days, as customers had to wait for their retailer to do a final meter read. However, now customers can have an estimated bill instead of waiting for a final bill after a meter read, which makes this process a lot quicker.
What do I do if I'm moving homes?
If you’re moving homes and want to stay with the same provider, give at least 3 days notice so that the disconnection and reconnection process goes smoothly. Some providers may require more notice, so check with them directly.
If you’re moving homes and changing retailers, give at least 2 days notice.
If you’re living in a sharehouse and the energy account is in your name, let your provider know your new address and arrange for another housemate to take over the account at your old home.
Those moving interstate should also acquaint themselves with the energy rules in their new home state, as these differ across Australia.
Check disconnection and connection fees
Disconnection and connection fees are charged when you move to a new home. A disconnection fee will be included in your final bill from your old energy provider, while a connection fee will be included in your first bill from your new one.
How to switch to a new energy provider
If you find a deal that you like more than your current one, contact your energy provider and see if you can negotiate a better deal. This is a good thing to do even if you have no intention of switching providers. If they can give you a better deal, you might want to consider staying with them. If they can’t, check what fees you’ll have to pay to leave.
You should contact the new energy provider directly if you do decide to switch. They will organise the transition from your old energy provider on your behalf. Some energy providers may conduct a credit check before letting you sign up - you can check your credit score online.
You have a 10-day cooling off period
Remember that you have a cooling-off period of 10 business days, beginning on the date you signed up to the new plan. You’re entitled to change your mind and cancel the contract - without any fees - within this period.
Tips for switching energy providers
- Check that any deals on your new plan are still valid before your account with your previous provider is completely settled. You can also ask for any deals to be honoured until the switch.
- Ask your energy provider for an early meter read so they can close the account sooner. However, keep in mind that this may cost extra.
- If you’re thinking about changing your gas plan as well, check that this can also be done at the same time to avoid confusion caused by different switching dates.
- Check your estimated bill. If you think that you’ve been overcharged, ask your old provider to recalculate the bill. If you have in fact been overcharged, you should be reimbursed by your old provider.
The bottom line
Knowing how your energy plan compares to others on the market is important to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Similarly, knowing why you might want to switch, how to switch, and when to switch can help you make the whole process easier.