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Residential energy, electricity and gas
Powering your home can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. We’re here to make all options clear.
Our lives are built around power and when it comes to our homes, we are able to customise how we use that power and the best plans for our needs. From smart meters and batteries, to picking energy providers and weighing up environmentally-friendly options, there is a lot to become aware of and take into consideration. Let this be your guide.
We’re moving house – what do we do with our electricity and gas?
Step one is to find out whether you’re eligible to choose your energy retailer as the option to switch providers is only open to some residents. Around four in five Australians are able to choose their electricity providers.
Residents in Victoria, New South Wales, ACT, South Australia, and Queensland are able to elect both their gas and electricity providers. Tasmanian residents can choose between gas retailers, but not electricity. Residents of Western Australia or the Northern Territory are unable to choose their retailer for either utility.
There are many factors to consider when signing up with a new energy provider including:
- Rates on electricity use
- Whether they’re available in your area/state
- Opportunity to save money on high- and low-peak
- Contract length
- Discounts for bundled deals, paying on time
- Exit fees
- Customer service quality
How do I exit my existing contract?
Upon commencing a new energy contract, your previous one will dissolve. It would be beneficial, though, to notify your energy company of your moving date and take note of this to ensure you get billed appropriately for the partial payment period.
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GreenPower is a government-certified, environmentally responsible energy scheme that allows you to purchase "green electricity" produced from renewable sources and fit it into the system. You can purchase different portions of your electricity usage to commit to green electricity (including 100% of it), but this power isn’t directly used to power your home. Instead, it is fed into the system. The GreenPower program is comparable to the Oxfam Unwrapped purchase-a-goat-for-charity scheme. If you'd like to learn more, check out our guide to GreenPower.
What is South Australia’s Retailer Energy Efficient Scheme?The Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme (REES) is a South Australia-based initiative to promote homes and businesses to reduce their energy consumption through retailer-based incentives. Once retailers reach a particular threshold of energy provision, the government applies requirements on future energy efficient schemes. To find out if your current retailer offers any REES options or to find another retailer that does, you can visit the ESCOSA-obliged retailers page.
This meter records your total electricity usage, with no information regarding time-of-use, ie peak, off-peak etc. These meters must be physically read by a retail employee on a periodic basis such as quarterly.
Interval meters measure your electricity usage at set intervals, such as every 30 minutes. This allows your retailer to charge you the appropriate amounts based on time-of-use, with cheaper rates for off-peak and more expensive for peak. These units must also be read manually.
Where the previous two meters involve estimations on your usage, smart meters measure your actual usage. They also establish a wireless communication feed between your unit and your energy provider. This negates the need for a reader to come to your property to connect, disconnect or read your electricity engagement. Further, it can optimise "feed-in" processes where residents with solar panels direct excess electricity back into the grid. The resident can access and read the smart meters information to find out how and when they can reduce their power consumption.
Solar panels have recently come down in price, so they are becoming more and more commonplace. As of January 2015 the density of households who generate power from the 1.35 million solar power systems is as follows:
Many retailers offer plans for solar panel owners with discounts on provided electricity and varying rates on feed-in tariffs.
For a single person household, between four to ten panels are necessary, a two person household between 11-16, and a three or more person household, over 17 panels may be necessary.
These tariffs determine how much money you get paid or credited from committing electricity to the grid from your solar panel setup. Currently, retailers in Victoria pays 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour, New South Wales between 5.1-8.0 cents, Australian Capital Territory between 6.0-7.5 cents, Queensland 6.0-12 cents, Tasmania 5.55 cents, South Australia 5.3 cents, Northern Territory pays the same feed-in as the consumption rate and Western Australia has a variable rate.
For more information on going solarSee our comprehensive guide for solar power.
How do I store my generated energy?
Of course once your energy is generated, you’ll want to store it for use overnight or during overcast days. For this, you will need batteries. More and more batteries come onto the market all the time. When selecting a battery there are variety of factors to consider: how quickly the battery loses its capacity, how many charges it can take before it loses capacity and how much return you get on energy as a proportion of how much you put in.Back to top
In a typical household, heating water is one of the largest drains on energy. Solar hot water is a great way to lighten the load on your system. Glass panels on the roof are heated by the sun which warms the water It is then stored in a tank for use in your shower, dishwasher, etc.
There are many things to consider with solar hot water. You can read all about them in our guide to solar hot water.Back to top
- Move hot items from cool places and cool items from hot places, i.e. don’t place your fridge and oven next to each other, and keep your heaters away from your windows.
- Close doors and refrain from heating or cooling unoccupied rooms
- Close up the fireplace when not in use – it’s a funnel to the outside world.
- Check out our tips on staying warm and saving energy
More energy guides
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