Switching the lights on and off may have been mildly amusing when you were a child, but that’s pretty much where the fun ends when it comes to electricity… particularly when you leave home and you’re the one paying the bills! But when you move into your own place, which electricity provider do you research online and pick up the phone to? For most Australians, it will be Origin, AGL or Energy Australia, but did you know that there are many other, smaller energy retailers out there all equally capable of supplying your electricity? They may even give you a better deal. That’s why Canstar Blue is going to give you a rundown of the six best electricity providers you’ve probably never heard of.
Before we go into detail, we should point out that not all of these electricity retailers operate in every state or territory. The nature of electricity price deregulation means that some states have more competition than others, which is reflected in the number of providers operating in certain parts of Australia – and the price of electricity in those areas without much competition.
We should also say that, when we talk about the ‘best’ electricity providers, we are referring to those who are doing things a little differently to the big energy retailers previously mentioned, or that they have a particularly interesting business model or range of plans that makes life easier for customers. Here are our top six electricity providers you have probably not heard of:
Sumo Power stands out from a very competitive crowd of energy retailers in Victoria because of its fixed cost electricity plan aptly named ‘All You Can Eat’. Launched in 2015, Sumo Power quickly made itself known with only the second fixed cost electricity plan in Australia, after Origin announced its Predictable Plan. Sumo Power’s plan sees customers pay for their entire year’s energy usage with a single one-off payment, taking away any bill shock that may come with monthly or quarterly bills. Customers pay for their annual electricity usage upfront, with the fixed cost calculated based on their previous energy consumption history. No matter how much electricity you end up using, you are not charged any more and can simply walk away from Sumo Power at the end of the year. If you stay on, the next year’s fixed price will reflect your previous usage.
- Fixed cost electricity plan
- Pay for your annual electricity usage in one payment
- No more charges regardless of your electricity usage
Operating in New South Wales and Queensland, Mojo Power is unique in that it gives customers access to ‘wholesale electricity rates’ provided they first take out membership. However, the savings a household can make are largely offset by the cost of a Mojo Power Energy Pass. There are three passes: Basic, Plus and Premium which cost between $35 and $55 per month (savings available if you buy annually). All three passes come with access to wholesale rates, while the plus and premium plans also include a free smart meter upgrade and access to Mojo’s energy monitoring tools. Only the Premium EnergyPass includes phone support as part of the deal. Despite the EnergyPass fees, households with very high energy usage may stand to save because they are purchasing power at a reduced price.
- Cheaper ‘wholesale’ usage rates and daily supply charges
- Households with very high electricity usage could save money
- Monitor energy usage on your mobile in real time
Powershop is a cheeky electricity retailer that likes making fun of the big energy giants, with its smiley face power socket logo often appearing in various guises. Its focus is on ‘putting customers in control’ of their energy usage and it does this with some awesome online account management tools that allow you to closely watch your energy usage and act accordingly. Powershop’s online tools even allow customers to pre-purchase ‘packs’ of power in order to save money. Powershop is currently available in New South Wales and Victoria – where it holds Canstar Blue’s customer satisfaction award.
- Online account management tools to help you save money
- Pre-purchase power packs for future use at reduced rates
- Given a five-star rating by electricity customers in Victoria
You often hear about price match guarantees from retailers and hardware stores, but imagine an electricity provider that actually promises to match, or beat, any price for residential electricity. Meet GloBird Energy. The offer is only available in Victoria and is dependent on various conditions, but this new retailer is obviously quite confident that it’s one of the cheapest around. GloBird Energy also promises no lock-in contracts and no exit fees, so you’re free to fly away at any time you like if things don’t work out as you had hoped. GloBird’s plans are easy to understand and its price factsheets are proudly displayed on its website, which makes a refreshing change. It also offers huge conditional discounts of up to 40% to customers on Globird’s Boost plan.
- Price match guarantee for electricity in Victoria
- Easy to understand electricity plans
- No lock-in contracts and no exit fees
Available in New South Wales and Victoria, 1st Energy stands out for a couple of reasons – mainly, it offers great discounts for longer benefit periods than average. With most retailers, the big headline discount you’re advertised only lasts for the first year or two, but 1st Energy say their discount won’t disappear at the end of the contract. Customers in Victoria can get 40% off their usage charges when they pay on time, while those in New South Wales can get 20% off. The downside is that you need to go with a two-year contract, but 1st Energy also boasts a price match guarantee, so make sure you put that to the test before joining.
- Significant pay on time discounts
- Lifetime benefit period
- Price match guarantee
Energy Locals isn’t just an energy company, it’s a social enterprise. Energy Locals customers have a portion of their energy bills donated towards an organisation of their choice. This could be R U Okay, Starlight Foundation or RSPCA to name a few. Alternatively, customers can give to smaller organisations by registering their local club, charity or school with Energy Locals.
It’s unclear if Energy Locals is cheaper than some of its competitors, but it certainly tries to be more transparent. With Energy Locals, there are no conditional discounts and the market offer rates are identical to the regulated rates. It also scores well in terms of environmental friendless. Energy Locals has a generous 10c/kWh retailer funded feed-in tariff, a heap of GreenPower plans, and can boast a net carbon emission of zero. You can read a full review of Energy Locals here.
- A portion of your bill goes toward a charity or organisation
- Transparent billing
- Generous solar offers
Which electricity retailer should you go with?
While the big energy companies like AGL, Origin and Energy Australia often get a rough ride in the media, the reality is that they are often the most competitively priced electricity providers in Australia. However, the point of this review is to show you that there are plenty of other retailers out there equally capable of supplying your energy, so it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deal you can find – not just in terms of price, but how you go about paying for power. Some of the providers mentioned above are changing the way consumers pay for electricity, whether it’s through a fixed cost plan, or by pre-purchasing electricity for later use. Ultimately the choice is yours. When you want to switch electricity providers, take the time to consider all of your options.