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How to cancel your electricity or gas contract in 3 steps

We can help you figure out how to disconnect your power and switch to a new provider if you want to.

Updated

Fact checked

If you're looking at your latest energy bill and you're thinking to yourself: this is expensive, then the chances are your bill has increased or it was never a good deal to begin with.

Many plans have what's called a 'benefit period' - this means at the end of the period (usually 12 months) any discounts may be removed or reduced. That's why it's good idea to compare your bill against the market at least once a year.

Read on to find out how and why you should switch energy providers.

How to cancel or switch your electricity or gas contract

If you're just cancelling you energy cover (e.g. you are moving to somewhere with an existing energy setup) - understand the following:

  • You can cancel your energy plan at any time, though you may have to pay a fee to do so.
  • Whether or not you'll need to pay an early-exit fee depends on your contract type and your energy retailer.
  • You may need to pay a disconnection fee, even if you've reached the end of your contract period.

If you're looking to cancel your electricity contract and switch to another energy provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. Find out what energy plan you're currently on. This includes usage rates and any applicable discounts you're taking advantage of.
  2. Check for exit fees. If you're signed up to a long-term contract, you may face an exit fee if you leave early. Be aware that the exit fee could be smaller than your potential savings for switching.
  3. Ring up your retailer. It's possible your energy provider will offer you a better deal than what you have now to not switch to somebody else.
  4. Compare your current offer with other plans. Once again, our energy comparison engine should be able to help you find something that better suits your needs.
  5. Switch. Contact your new provider and purchase your new plan. The application process shouldn't take too long, and your new retailer will take care of the handover. Just make sure that once you're up and running on your new plan you cancel any ongoing payments to your old provider.

When should you switch providers?

In most of Australia, there are many energy retailers and plans to choose from, so you don't need to stick with a provider that you don't like.

There's plenty of reasons to switch from your current retailer and plan to a new one. Here are a few:

  1. You energy bill is getting higher. The most obvious reason to change retailers is to save money on your energy bill. Many providers offer a discounted price when you sign up however these may expire over time - and that's when you need to consider switching.
  2. Environmental concerns. Every retailer has a different green rating. Switching to one with GreenPower options and a better green track record can decrease the environmental impact of your power.
  3. Better solar options. If you have solar panels, you might be eligible for solar feed-in tariffs. These vary from state to state but also from plan to plan, with some retailers offering higher than your state's minimum.
  4. Get a more flexible contract. Many providers offer no lock-in contracts and no early termination fees.
  5. Better customer support. If your current provider doesn't offer the help you need, look for one that offers 24/7 customer service.
  6. Consolidate your bills. By choosing a bundled electricity and gas plan, you could save on energy with one consolidated statement each month or quarter.

Aussies concerned about their bill

According to some recent research by Finder, about 1 in 4 of Australians are experiencing bill stress1, and half the population is worried about the impact self-isolation will have on their power bills2. While you might take advantage of your provider's financial hardship program, you're likely better off comparing your current plan to others on the market and switching to one with better rates.

Find a new energy plan and save

Cancelling during coronavirus? You might need to get your energy meter read

Can I switch energy retailers in my state?

If you live in NSW, VIC, the ACT, south-east QLD, or SA, you can choose between a wide range of energy retailers. Recently, Tasmanians also gained the ability to choose between Aurora Energy or 1st Energy.

Keep in mind, if you live in an apartment or unit that is part of an embedded electricity network, you might not be able to choose your provider no matter which state you live in.

State⚡ Can I choose my electricity retailer?♨️ Can I choose my gas retailer?
New South WalesYes.Yes.
VictoriaYes.Yes.
QueenslandIt depends on where you live. Residents in South-East Queensland can choose from a wide range of retailers. However, those who live in the rest of the state don't have a choice, as Ergon Energy is the only electricity retailer outside of South-East Queensland.Yes.
TasmaniaYes. Until early 2019, all Tasmanian residents were serviced by a single electricity provider, Aurora Energy. However, residents in certain areas can now opt to switch to competitor 1st Energy.Yes. Customers in certain areas can also choose between Aurora Energy and Tas Gas for natural gas services.
Australian Capital TerritoryYes.Yes.
South AustraliaYes.Yes.
Western AustraliaResidential customers are unable to choose their electricity retailers in WA. Synergy supplies the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) while Horizon Power is the only electricity retailer outside of SWIS. However, businesses in WA do have more options.Yes.
Northern TerritoryYes. You can choose in certain areas, although there are minimal options.It depends on where you live. Customers in certain areas have a limited choice of retailers.

Getting your energy meter read during coronavirus

How to compare how much your current bill will be on a new plan

The easiest way to compare your current bill to a new plan is to use a comparison engine, such as this one from Finder or those on some energy retailers' websites. With your bill in front of you, you'll need the following information:

  • Tariff type. Does your bill list peak and off-peak periods? Do you have a controlled load device, like a water heater or pool pump?
  • Bill date. Start and end date of your bill.
  • Energy usage. This is your total power usage over the period, or, if you have one of the above tariffs, usage for each tariff period or type.

And that's it! Enter in the details and away you go. You'll be able to sort plans by their estimated price based on your current bill, and compare different providers.

How to read your energy bill

Know your rights

When switching electricity plans, remember that you have a number of rights as a customer:

  • Cooling off period. All energy plans have a cooling off period, where you can back out of the plan with no penalty. By new regulations, they must be at least 10 days long.
  • Be explicit. Make sure when you're ringing up to enquire about a new energy plan that the retailer doesn't switch you over without your consent. They may take your interest as a desire to buy the plan.
  • Don't get pestered. If you don't want to be bothered by telemarketers trying to sell you energy plans, you can sign up to the Australian Government's 'Do Not Call' register.

Can you new retailer raise the price mid-contract?

This depends on what type of energy contract you have. The majority of energy plans are 'variable rate', which means that usage rates can change at any time over your plan, though they are required to give you slight advance notice.

If you are on a 'fixed rate' plan where your usage and supply rates are frozen for a certain period of time, usually the first 12 months of your contract, your provider won't be able to vary the rates until the benefit period has run out.

Misconceptions when it comes to switching providers

People sometimes get the wrong idea about what's involved in switching from one provider to another, and it can convince them to keep paying too much with a bad energy plan. Here are three common misconceptions.

  • Losing power when you switch. When you switch retailers, you won't lose power or gas during the handover for any period of time. This is because retailers are only responsible for the financial aspect of energy. You aren't switching distributors, or whoever is actually supplying energy to your property.
  • Switching costs money. Simply switching from one energy plan to another is completely free. The only time you could be charged is if you're on a lock-in contract with an early exit fee associated with it.
  • You'll need new equipment. In most cases, your new energy retailer will be able to use the exact same equipment as your old provider. The main exception to this is that some plans, especially if you have solar installed, will require a smart meter for energy monitoring if you don't have one already.

Switching services

Energy switching services are relatively new, but they exist to help you compare your bill with other plans and find one that works for you. There are two kinds of switching service.

Official government switching services like this one from NSW are free but mean you have to do all the hard work of switching yourself and staying on top of deals and plans. Paid switching services can do all the work for you but charge a fee.

Pros

  • May save hundreds of dollars per year on energy bills.
  • Can be regularly swapped to the best energy plan without lifting a finger.

Cons

  • Not every switching company compares the entire market.
  • Some switching companies prioritise providers that pay commissions.
  • You might have to pay an ongoing subscription fee.
  • Cheaper providers may have poorer customer service.

What are early-exit fees and how much are they?

Early-exit fees apply to electricity and gas customers who sign a contract for a set length of time and decide to leave before the period ends. Contracts usually vary from six months to two years for residential and business customers.

You can call and speak to your retailer to find out if your contract has early termination fees. The specific fee typically varies depending on how long you have left on your contract.

Fewer electricity retailers charge early-exit fees these days since many energy contracts are offered on a no-lock-in, month-to-month basis.

What are disconnection fees and how much are they?

Unlike early-exit fees, disconnection fees are charged by your energy distributor, not your energy retailer. Energy distributors supply your electricity and sell to your retailer, who in turn sells it to you. When you cancel your service, the distributor may charge your energy retailer a disconnection fee. This fee will then be passed on to you.

Your old retailer will need to do a final meter reading to send you a final bill. Disconnection fees cover the costs of checking your energy meter outside of your typical schedule. If you have a smart meter, your retailer will be able to do this as soon as your contract is cancelled for a small fee.

However, if you have a traditional meter, the company will need to send someone out to your property to read the meter, which can cost up to $100 or more. This can take up to three months depending on where you are in your billing cycle when you cancel.

Frequently asked questions

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