Origin Energy is Australia’s largest electricity retailer, with more than four million customers nationwide. But is bigger always better? Red Energy is a far smaller retailer, yet has been making waves in recent years across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and now Queensland.
Canstar Blue has reviewed the plans and prices of Origin Energy and Red Energy to see which offers the cheapest rates where you live. We’ll review each of their plans and provide estimated quarterly costs for five person households in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, who sign up to their respective highest discounted offers.
While the names of these plans are similar throughout Australia, their prices, terms and discounts can vary considerably across networks and states. Be sure to thoroughly read their energy price factsheets to find the specific details of what’s on offer in your area.
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 four market retail offers available to customers in Victoria – Origin Maximiser, Origin Saver, Origin Supply and Rate Freeze. The 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 market offer. It has variables rates like the other two offers, but has no conditional discounts. There are also no exit fees.
- Rate Freeze: As the name suggests, customers on this plan will have their rates put on hold, meaning the price of electricity won’t change over the next two years. This effectively protects you from one round of price increases.
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. 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’s 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|
Costs based on annual usage calculations broken down into quarterly payments. Calculations based on statistics from AER for a five-person household 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 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 set of plans to the table in Sydney, but with varying discounts, detailed below. Origin also offers GreenPower plans with the published rates identical to those listed for Victoria.
- Origin Maximiser: Customers on this plan receive all their bills and correspondence by email and will have their bills direct debited. In return, they will receive a 15% discount off usage charges. This discount applies for 12 months and there are no exit fees for early termination.
- Origin Saver: This is another variable rate electricity plan with a 12 month benefit period. Customers who pay their bills 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.
- Rate Freeze: Again, this is Origin’s fixed rate electricity plan whereby customers avoid any price changes for two years. There are no discounts available.
Just like in Victoria, Red Energy gives customers in NSW two different electricity plans to choose from, although there is no dedicated GreenPower plan. This time households in Sydney can select between the Living Energy Saver and the Easy Saver. Both are variable rate plans with a 10% discount across your entire bill when you pay on time, but there are some subtle, yet important differences.
- Living Energy Saver: This plan gives customers a 10% pay-on-time discount applied to the entire bill. It also offers flexible billing options and access to Red Energy’s reward program. There is a two-year benefit period and customers will be required to pay a $20 exit fee for leaving before the contract expires.
- Easy Saver: Similar to the Living Energy Saver plan, the Easy Saver applies a 10% discount on the entire bill when it’s paid on time. The difference is that the Easy Saver is designed to be completely flexible, with no contract terms or exit fees.
Who’s cheapest in New South Wales?
The New South Wales energy market is pretty competitive, making it a little tricky to find the right deal. To help you out, we’ve crunched the numbers behind the highest discounted offers from Red Energy and Origin. Both the Easy Saver and Living Energy Saver plans from Red Energy offer a 10% discount, while the Origin Maximiser has a 15% discount. Keep in mind that Red Energy’s discount applies to the entire bill, while Origin’s only applies to usage charges.
|NSW||Red Energy||Easy Saver||10%||$449.68|
Costs based on annual usage calculations broken down into quarterly payments. Calculations based on statistics from AER for a five-person household on the Ausgrid network. January 2017.
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 offers South Australians a similar range of products to what’s available in Victoria and NSW. Electricity prices in South Australia are generally much higher than in any other part of the country, so it’s important to shop around to find the best price. Here’s how Origin stacks up:
- Origin Maximiser: This is a variable rate contract with a 12 month benefit period and no exit fees. On this plan, you’ll receive your bills via email and you agree to have your bills direct debited from your selected account in exchange for a 16% discount off usage charges.
- Origin Saver: Customers who pay their bills on time will benefit from a 14% discount on this plan. Similar to the Maximiser, this is a variable rate plan with a 12 month benefit period.
- Origin Supply: This is Origin’s basic plan with no discounts or contract term.
- Rate Freeze: With this plan y0ur rates won’t change for two years, however there are no discounts available.
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 bills on time, you will 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 a flexible option for customers, with no contract term or exit fees.
Who’s cheapest in South Australia?
To find out which retailer is cheapest in South Australia, let’s compare their highest discounted offers. These are the Living Energy Saver from Red Energy (10%) and the Origin Maximiser from Origin (16%). While Origin has the superior discount, remember this only applies to usage rates, while Red Energy’s applies to the entire bill. So, who works out cheapest?
|SA||Red Energy||Living Energy Saver||10%||$633.91|
Costs based on annual usage calculations broken down into quarterly payments. Calculations based on statistics from AER for a five-person household on the SA Power Networks network. January 2017.
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 Adelaide with our latest cost comparison report.
Households between Gympie, Toowoomba and Tweed Heads in South East Queensland can choose their retailer, be it Origin, Red Energy or some other company. Origin has slightly fewer energy deals on offer in the Brisbane area compared to other states, with no fixed rate plan on offer.
- Origin Maximiser: With the Maximiser plan, customers who pay their bills via direct debit will receive a 10% discount off usage charges for a 12 month period. There are no exit fees for early termination.
- Origin Saver: Origin Saver customers who pay their bills on time will receive an 8% discount on electricity usage charges, again for a 12 month period.
- Origin Supply: This is Origin’s basic electricity plan with no discounts or exit fees. Once the benefit period from another plan expires, customers will start paying the same rates as those on this plan.
Red Energy came to South East Queensland in January of 2017, with two very competitive energy offers.
- Easy Saver: This plan has no contract term and comes with a 10% discount on your entire electricity bill. Most retailers, such as Origin, only apply their discounts to the usage cost component of the bill.
- Easy Saver Green: This is the same plan as above, but with the option to have your entire electricity consumption matched with renewable energy purchases for an extra cost.
Who’s cheapest in Queensland?
Origin has been a prominent electricity retailer in Queensland for many years, but how does it stack up against the new challenger, Red Energy? While it might look like Origin and Red Energy offer the same discount, it’s important to remember that Red Energy’s discount applies to the entire bill, and not just the usage component like with Origin. Which deal works out cheaper?
|Q:D||Red Energy||Easy Saver||10%||$499.52|
Costs based on annual usage calculations broken down into quarterly payments. Calculations based on statistics from AER for a five-person household on the Energex network. January 2017.
Red Energy again works out to be the most affordable retailer in this particular comparison. That said, you might find even cheaper deals in our cost comparison report for Queensland.
How to find the best deal
Origin and Red Energy are both viable retailers with competitive rates and generally reliable service. Indeed, Red Energy ranks highest in our customer satisfaction ratings for New South Wales electricity retailers, while Origin is rated four stars in most states.
Red Energy is generally one of the cheapest providers across Australia, but it’s important to compare a wide range of plans and consider what might suit your situation best. If you have solar panels, for example, it may be the case that Origin and its solar booster deals give you the best value. Also, don’t forget about Origin’s Predictable Plan, which lets you know exactly what you’ll be paying for power each billing period.
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. If you’ve been with the same provider for more than two years, you are almost certainly paying too much.