Important things to look for when finding the best energy offer for you.In our last article on saving on energy bills we spoke of the importance of finding an energy offer that’s best for you. Of course that means different things to different people. Below are some important factors we think you should keep in mind when comparing and choosing your electricity and gas providers.
Read past the discount headlines
A lot of advertising and promotion have a headline discounts which sound great and are of course an important part of determining the value but make sure you know exactly how the discount applies.
Discounts AND rates are the most important things to consider when you’re thinking in terms of cost.
Energy Providers will also take a different approach to what they apply these discounts to such as
- Applying the discount to the energy you use rather than your entire bill including any daily supply charges.
- They may apply the discount in part or as a whole depending how you pay. For example direct debit from your bank or a pay on time discount.
The energy rates on offer are an important consideration. In an increasingly competitive market though, pricing is not always standard across the board and in particular places like Victoria energy providers can set the rates. Don’t panic – they’ll want to be as competitive as possible to make sure they win or keep your business but it’s important to be aware.
The rates applicable to where you use your energy
Whilst the rates are important against any discounts being applied, you should also think in terms of what rates are being applied for the different energy you use.
The best example here is if you use off peak energy supply for things like water heating or pool filters. Some offers may have a great off peak rate but it only accounts for a small portion of their total energy use. Make sure that the value matches your usage patterns. Even more important if you have different rates for different times of the day as these can really impact your bill depending on when you use things like air conditioners, heaters, washing machine, dryers and so on.
This is where it’s important to be energy smart and know where you consume the energy in your home or business and know which pricing is attached.
What’s the total value of the offer
These days every energy provider has an offer with discounted rates so they may differentiate through adding value in different ways to appeal to different customers.
Make sure you understand what else is on offer as it may add significant value to your household. Maybe they have an up front credit off a bill, loyalty cards that offer discounts off things like groceries, restaurants, movie tickets for the family, magazine subscriptions or even frequent flyer points. Sometimes these can represent great value adding up to hundreds of dollars value and all you have to do is take an offer up with them.
Term of the offer
Energy providers are now starting to realise that not everyone fits into one category when it comes to committing to a contract for a certain period of time and a growing number of people like to have the freedom to choose who and when they want. This is why you’ll see a growing number of shorter or no fixed term offers out there that let customers come and go as they please. This may suit people on the move or just simply like having a bit more freedom in who they have as a provider.
On the other hand energy providers will often reward customers who are willing to commit to a longer period with a better value offer. When you’re shopping be sure to ask what the difference may be. For an extra 5 % or more off your energy bill it may be worth considering.
Just make sure you understand whether there is a fixed term or not to the offer, what type of terms and conditions are attached and potentially any difference in value between the fixed / non fixed options.
The fine print of course
Energy Providers can offer some great value but with this also comes some consideration to the terms and conditions attached and the value they offer. Here are a couple of examples.
- You may have late payment fees if you pay the bill after the due date or your direct debit arrangement defaults
- You may need to pay an early exit fee if you break a fixed term agreement. They may also want to recoup any credit or the value of any sign on bonus they may have given you for taking up an offer.
These are just a couple of examples but the energy industry rules require that consumers and small business are well informed when making a decision around their energy provider. When you switch you’ll get all the terms and conditions to read through and consider so be sure to read them through to know your obligations as well as your new provider.
Does Customer Service matter and what does it mean to you.
This is a very subjective topic and it really comes down to what it means to you. Some providers offer some very competitive offers by keeping most of their service online which may suit you. For small businesses some providers also offer dedicated account management where some do not. Sometimes the smaller Energy Providers are able to personalise their service a little more. So how do I tell ? User forums like whirlpool can alert you to any ongoing issues but a great source is through the partnership we’ve struck with Canstar Blue one of the country’s leading ratings company. Here you can see the results of the latest annual survey results on where some providers do well and some may not. To go to the page on our website just click here
So as you can see there are a few things to consider getting the best offer for your needs and we hope this makes it a little easier. To make things even easier and take the time and effort out of shopping around grab an energy bill and give one of our team at Uchoose a call on 1800 000 445 or visit us at www.uchoose.com.au