Origin Energy is Australia’s largest electricity retailer with more than four million customers nationwide. But is bigger always better? Red Energy is a much smaller company, but is making a large impact in Victoria and New South Wales in particular. So which provides the lowest electricity prices and the best overall value for money? Canstar Blue has reviewed their respective electricity plans across the country to help you make an informed decision.
We have compared their highest discounted electricity plans and offer estimated quarterly costs for five person households in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. While the names of these plans largely remain the same throughout the states, be sure to check the specific details in your area because their features and discounts can vary significantly.
Before we get going, let’s just point out that Origin offers one of Australia’s only fixed cost electricity plans in the shape of its ‘Predictable Plan’. As this is a fixed cost plan specific to each and every customer, we have not included it in our review. However, you can read more about the Predictable Plan here.
Origin has three market retail offers available to customers in Victoria – Origin Maximiser, Origin Supply and Origin Saver. The Origin Maximiser and Saver deals are fairly standard variable rate contracts with conditional discounts. Here are the specific details for households in Melbourne:
- Origin Maximiser: This is an open term, variable rate contract with a 12 month benefit period. Customers on this plan who pay by direct debit will receive a discount of 28% off their usage charges.
- Origin Saver: Customers who pay their bills on time will receive a discount of 26% off usage charges. Like Origin’s Maximiser offer, this is an open term contract with a 12 month benefit period.
- Origin Supply: This is Origin’s default energy plan. It has variables rates like the other Origin offers, but with no discounts. There are also no exit fees.
Green energy options: Origin, like most electricity retailers, offers customers an option to have a percentage of their energy consumption compensated for with renewable energy generation, through the GreenPower initiative. The prices for a household on the Citipower network in Victoria are as follows:
- 25% – an extra $2/week
- 50% – an extra 2.81c/kWh
- 100% – an extra 5.61 c/kWh
Meanwhile Red Energy has two electricity market offers for Victorian households, the Living Energy Saver and the Living Energy Saver Green.
- Living Energy Saver: This is a no term variable rate contract. Interestingly, it includes 10% off your entire bill when you pay on time, rather than just the usage charges. In addition to this, Red Energy says its deals have competitive solar rebates and flexible billing options, meaning you can still get your bills by post if you want. Red Energy customers will also have access to Red Energy Rewards – which gives you up to $1,500 worth of discounts and benefits.
- Living Energy Saver Green: This plan has the same features as the Living Energy Saver plan, but with an added 100% GreenPower option – that is, for each kWh of energy your household uses, Red Energy commits to sourcing the equivalent amount from renewable energy generators. This costs an additional 5.83c/kWh.
Who is cheapest in Victoria?
Let’s compare the highest discounted offers from Origin and Red Energy to determine which is cheaper in Victoria. These are the Origin Maximiser plan and Red Energy’s Living Energy Saver. There is a big difference in their headline discounts, but which actually works out cheaper at the end of the day? We show costs once discounts have been applied.
|VIC||Red Energy||Living Energy Saver||10%||$372.37|
Prices based on annual electricity costs broken down into quarterly payments on the Citipower network, January 2017.
There is an important message here – sometimes the energy offers with the highest discounts do not work out the cheaper option overall. This is because they often have higher usage or supply charges, meaning any savings are largely negated. Find out how Origin and Red Energy compare to other providers in Victoria with our cost comparison report.
New South Wales
Origin brings the same three electricity plans to the table in Sydney, but with varying discounts, detailed below. Origin also offers GreenPower plans with the published rates identical to those offered in Victoria.
- Origin Maximiser: Customers on this plan receive all their bills and correspondence through email and will have their bills direct debited. In return, they will receive 18% off bill usage charges. The benefit period lasts for 12 months and there are not exit fees for early termination.
- Origin Saver: This is another variable rate electricity plan with a 12 month benefit period. Customers who pay their bill on time will receive a 13% discount off usage costs. Additionally there are no exit fees and you can manage your account online.
- Origin Supply: This is Origin’s most basic plan with no discounts or fixed contract period.
Just like in Victoria, Red Energy again gives customers two different electricity plans to choose from, although this time there is no straight up GreenPower-accredited plan. This time households in Sydney can select between the Living Energy Saver and the Easy Saver. Both are variable rate plans which apply a 10% discount across your entire bill when you pay on time. So, what’s the difference?
- Living Energy Saver: This plan gives customers a 10% pay on time discount applied to their entire bill. It also offers flexible billing options and access to Red Energy’s reward program. This is a two-year fixed benefit period contract and customers will be required to pay a $20 exit fee for leaving before the benefit period expires.
- Easy Saver: The Easy Saver is designed to be a totally flexible option for customers, with no contract terms or exit fees. Similar to the Living Energy Saver, a 10% discount is applied to your entire bill when you pay on time.
Who is cheapest in New South Wales?
Trying to find the cheapest retailer is tricky. To help you out, we’ve crunched the numbers by comparing the plans from Red Energy and Origin Energy that have the greatest discounts. Both the Easy Saver and Living Energy Saver from Red Energy offer a 10% discount, while the Origin Maximiser has an 18% discount. Keep in mind that Red Energy’s discount applies to your entire bill, while Origin’s only applies to usage charges. Which works out cheaper?
|NSW||Red Energy||Easy Saver||10%||$449.68|
Prices based on annual electricity costs broken down into quarterly payments on the Ausgrid network, October 2016.
Again we find that the plan with the highest discount offer is actually more expensive overall. See how Red Energy and Origin compare to other retailers in NSW with our comparison of costs for the state.
Origin brings the same three electricity plans in South Australia, with discounts similar to those in NSW. However, that’s where the similarities end as households in Adelaide face much higher costs than consumers in any other part of the country. This is how Origin lines up in SA:
- Origin Maximiser: This is a variable rate contract with a 12 month benefit period and no exit fees. On this plan, you will receive your bills via email and you agree to have your bills direct debited from your selected account in exchange for an 18% discount off usage charges.
- Origin Saver: Customers who pay their bills on time will benefit from a 16% discount on this plan. Similar to the Maximiser, this is a flexible rate contract with a 12 month benefit period.
- Origin Supply: This is Origin’s basic plan with no discounts or contract term.
The two plans offered by Red Energy to South Australians are the Living Energy Saver and No Exit Fee Saver. The first plan is a variable rate, fixed term plan similar to what it offers in other states, while the No Exit Fee Saver is designed to maximise flexibility with the trade-off of a lower discount.
- Living Energy Saver: This is a two-year benefit fixed term plan with variable pricing. When you pay your bill on time, you receive a 10% discount on the entire value of your bill.
- No Exit Fee Saver: This variable rate plan again applies a pay on time discount on your entire bill, but this time for only 3%. It is designed to be the most flexible option for customers with no contract terms or exit fees.
Who is cheapest in South Australia?
To work out who might be the cheaper retailer, we have compared the prices listed for both Origin and Red Energy electricity plans. This is again the Living Energy Saver for Red Energy (10%) and the Origin Maximiser for Origin (18%). While Origin has the superior discount, remember that only applies to usage rates, while Red Energy’s applies to the entire bill.
|SA||Red Energy||Living Energy Saver||10%||$633.92|
Prices based on annual electricity costs broken down into quarterly payments on the SA Power Network, October 2016.
This time the highest discount wins the day, with Origin the cheapest option of the two in South Australia. Find out who is the cheapest electricity retailer overall in SA with our latest cost comparison report.
How to find the best deal
Origin Energy and Red Energy are both perfectly viable energy retailers. While Origin often works out more expensive, the trade-off is that you get a reasonably trusted brand name and usually reliable customer service. Red Energy, however, would also claim top-notch service and reliability. Indeed, Red Energy is currently ranked the highest electricity retailer in NSW. Red Energy is also popular for its online rewards program, bringing good discounts on a number of retail and entertainment opportunities.
Origin, meanwhile, is one of few electricity providers which actually give customers the chance to know exactly what they will be paying for power from one billing period to the next with its Predictable Plan. Customers on one of Origin’s other contracts have the option of moving over to the Predictable Plan.
Overall there is a lot to consider with Origin and Red Energy. We hope you find this review helpful. Remember, no matter which energy provider you’re with, it’s always worth looking at the market and seeing if there is a better offer out there for you.