43% of Aussies don’t know what energy tariff they’re on

More than two fifths of Aussies (43%) are not sure what type of electricity tariff they’re on despite it having a big impact on their energy costs, a recent Canstar Blue survey revealed.

South Australians were the most oblivious, with the research showing that 51 per cent had no clue what tariff their household was connected to. Victorians followed at 46 per cent, while residents in New South Wales and Queensland were unaware at 43 and 40 per cent, respectively.

The highest reported type was a single rate tariff at 39 per cent, whereby customers are charged one rate for consuming power. A time of use tariff was the next greatest at 17 per cent, which charges bill-payers a different usage rate depending on the time of day.

These findings could indicate that some customers on a single rate tariff who are hesitant to use energy during peak times (generally on weekday afternoons) are mistakenly doing so through fear of being charged a higher rate.

Alarmingly, only 38 per cent of Australians know what their electricity usage rates and supply charges are, signifying that many could be paying too much without even realising it.

A usage rate is charged per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for using electricity, while a supply charge is a daily rate that’s applied to bills simply for being connected to the grid. These costs vary significantly between power companies, as well as what products are offered in specific locations.

Compare Single Rate Tariff Prices

For bill-payers who prefer to pay a single rate for electricity regardless of the time of day, we’ve listed some prices below.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Single Rate vs Time of Use

While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to tariffs, there are a few pros and cons of each that are worth highlighting. For those who cannot avoid using power during peak times, a single rate tariff may be more suitable. A home with a smart meter installed that’s able to shift most of its electricity use to off-peak times however, may benefit from a time of use tariff.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of both. Keep in mind this information is a general guide only.

Single Rate Tariff

Some energy retailers may list a single rate tariff under a different name, like ‘anytime usage’, ‘peak rate’ or ‘flat rate’.

Pros Cons
Charges a single rate for using power regardless of the time of day Won’t be able to access lower off-peak rates
Customers don’t need to stress about consuming electricity during peak times Generally charges a higher rate than the ‘off-peak’ rate on a time of use tariff
Don’t need a smart meter to access this type of tariff No real incentive to limit energy use during peak demand times, which can place pressure on the grid

Time of Use Tariff

A time of use tariff normally charges three separate rates – peak, off-peak and shoulder. As the names suggest, peak is the most expensive, off-peak is the cheapest, while shoulder is somewhere in between. It may otherwise be known as a ‘flexible pricing tariff’.

Pros Cons
Get updates on electricity usage every 30 minutes Peak, off-peak and shoulder times can differ between energy retailers
May be ideal for households that don’t use energy during peak times Need a smart meter installed to access this type of tariff
Encourages customers to use less energy during peak times that can help alleviate pressure on the grid Need to be extra aware of using power-draining appliances (i.e. dishwashers, washing machines) at certain times throughout the day

What tariff are most Aussies on and what other types are available?

Flexible pricing tariffs have become more common these days; however, most homes are still connected to a single rate tariff. In fact, the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) latest report found that roughly 68 per cent of residential customers were on a single rate tariff, either with or without a controlled load.

In addition to single rate and time of use tariffs, there are also a handful of other tariff structures that many customers may be connected to, including:

  • Controlled load tariff: Large household appliances like hot water systems and pool pumps are usually on a controlled load tariff and metered separately from the rest of the property.
  • Block rate tariff: Electricity usage is charged in ‘blocks’, though normally only available to larger commercial or industrial customers.
  • Solar feed-in tariff: Customers with solar panels receive small credits on their bills for exporting power back into the grid.

A final note on finding a good electricity deal

The AER reports that the rollout of smart meters and flexible pricing tariffs has added further confusion among consumers, leading many to avoid engaging in the market. The regulator claims, however, that these new layers of complexity will be ‘offset by better tools for comparing offers’ on these types of tariffs. It’s also noted by the AER that more customers are using comparison websites to find a better electricity deal.

Regardless of what tariff a customer is on, it won’t mean much if the energy rates aren’t competitive. That’s why it’s essential for Aussies to check the fine print of any electricity plan before signing up. These documents are known as energy price fact sheets and retailers must list these for each product they offer.

Image credits: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

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