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How do I compare energy providers?

When looking to switch electricity and gas providers, it's best to have your current (or future) address at hand. This will determine which providers are able to provide you energy and which deals they can offer.

You're also going to need to know what kind of contract you're looking for. There are typically three types of energy contracts in Australia: standard retail contracts, market retail contracts and regulated contracts.

If you're not sure what any of this means, we'll break it down for you.

Standard retail contract

A standard retail contract has set terms and conditions that cannot be changed by a retailer. If you've never spoken to your provider about your contract (or never changed retailers), then it's more than likely you're on a standard retail contract. The price you pay for gas and electricity under a standard retail contract may be set by the state or territory government.

If you live in Victoria, New South Wales or South Australia, your electricity prices are set by the power retailers. In all other states and territories prices are set by the government.

Market retail contract

Market retail contracts usually have a few set terms and conditions, which can vary between contracts. Sometimes known as "market contracts", market retail contracts often offer features such as discounted prices, green and solar alternatives, contracted term periods, cancellation and registration fees or a number of other incentives.

You might not necessarily be eligible for a market retail contract with your current provider, but it's a good idea to shop around and do your research for the best deal in your area. Keep in mind though that prices under these contracts are set by the energy provider and not the state or territory government. This means prices and services do vary and can even fluctuate during a fixed-term contract.

Regulated contract

In NSW, every gas customer is entitled to purchase gas at a regulated price. A "regulated contract" is offered to the customer by a regulated retailer. Regulated retailers are spread out across specific districts within NSW. This means that if you're located within one provider's regulated district, you will not be able to accept a regulated offer from another.

The State Government decides upon the terms and conditions of these contracts with the prices being set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

Moving house?

If you're moving house, you will need to let your energy provider know. When moving to a new location, you do have the option to stay with your current provider if it supplies energy to that new area. It's smart to check and compare services in your new location. You may potentially find a much better deal with another provider that services that address.

Typically it takes up to three business days to get your energy connected. As such it's best not to leave this to the last minute, otherwise you may be leaving your family in the dark.

Energy guides

Gas and electricity options by state

Did you know that your choice of energy supplier will depend on where you live?

Click on your state or territory to find out more.

Factors to consider when comparing providers

In addition to the type of contract, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing your energy provider:

Solar energy

Today, there are two main approaches to using solar power in Australian homes: Solar hot water systems and solar panel systems.

Solar hot water systems

Solar hot water systems collect energy from the sun, store that energy in water and store that water for later uses around the home like hot showers and dishwashers. These systems take the pressure off the traditional gas or electricity-powered hot water systems.

There are two main solar hot water system designs to choose from: Flat-plate systems and evacuated tube systems.

  • Flat-plate systems consist of a flat glass plate covering copper pipes. These pipes bear water which is heated by the sun and then transported to a storage vessel.
  • Evacuated tubes are just that, evacuated tubes with a vacuum component for insulation. As with flat-plates, the sun heats up the copper pipes, but thanks to the 360° nature of the tubes, the tubes catch more sun than flat-plate panels. Evacuated tubes are generally more expensive, but are newer, more efficient, durable and easily fixed.

If you're after more information about solar hot water systems, you can read our handy solar hot water guide.

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Solar panel systems

A solar panel system generally consists of more than just the panels that sit on your roof collecting the sun's rays. You'll also need an inverter for converting the energy so you can use it to power your home's electricity and a mounting system to secure the panels to your roof. If you want to use the collected solar power at night you will also need a battery storage system.

Solar panel systems use light from the sun to create a direct electrical current, which is captured by photovoltaic cells (or PV cells) in the solar panel. The current is then run through an inverter to convert it from direct current (DC) to an alternating current (AC) which can be used to power your home appliances.

It's important when considering a solar system for your home to take into account your household's needs and your budget. For a more detailed guide to solar electricity, see our solar power guide.

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