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.
Need to know: Cancelling an existing electricity or gas contract
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.
When should you switch providers?
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.
If your current retailer has high rates, lacks discounts or has poor customer service, you might want to consider switching. 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.
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.
Decrease your carbon footprint. Choosing a provider that offers GreenPower or has a high green rating can help you reduce your impact on the earth and support renewable energy.
Get a more flexible contract. Many providers offer no lock-in contracts and no early termination fees.
Save on solar. If you already have a solar system, switching providers might help you get better solar rebates. If you don't yet have solar but are interested in getting solar panels, you could save by switching to a provider that offers solar products and solar panel installation.
Better customer support. If your current provider doesn't offer the help you need, look for one that offers 24/7 customer service.
Find out how much notice you'll need to give your provider. It is generally good to give your provider at least three days notice before you move or disconnect. However, with some providers, you may need to give two-weeks notice or more. When you decide to move, you can arrange in advance to have your electricity disconnected on a future date. This way, you won't have to worry about missing the notification window.
Contact your new energy retailer. Many energy retailers make the process of switching even easier. When you sign up with a new electricity or gas retailer, check if they can take care of the entire cancellation process for you. This will include communicating with your old energy provider to disconnect your existing service and getting your new power up and running. Some retailers offer guarantees that your electricity will be connected on a specific day to ensure you'll have power the day you move in.
Let your old provider know. If you're going off the grid or moving out of the country, you can cancel your contract by contacting your provider directly. You can typically cancel your contract over the phone, or by sending in a cancellation form via mail or email. Make sure you have your account information on hand when you call.
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.
Can I switch energy retailers in my state?
Check the table below to find out if residential customers in your state can switch providers. Keep in mind, if you live in an apartment or unit that is part of an embedded electricity network, you won't be able to choose your provider no matter which state you live in.
⚡ Can I choose my electricity retailer?
♨️ Can I choose my gas retailer?
New South Wales
It 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. 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 Territory
Residential 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. 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.
A reconnection fee or connection fee is what you'd pay to connect your property to power. If you're moving to a new home, you may need to pay a reconnection fee to access power in your home.
When you sign up for a new energy contract, a cooling-off period applies. You can cancel your new contract at any time during the cooling-off period without having to pay a fee. This period is typically 10 days but may vary depending on where you live.
Yes, though you may have to pay an exit fee. To find out if you'll have to pay an exit fee, check your contract or ask your provider directly.
If you stop paying your energy bill, a missed or late payment fees will typically apply. Also, your energy company can't switch off your power after one missed bill and must first give you two written warnings. After this, your provider will attempt to contact you to arrange a customised payment plan. If you fail to pay, you could be taken to court and potentially charged for fees incurred by the provider.
Looking for a new energy provider? Compare by state below