How a ‘controlled load' tariff can save you money

What is a controlled load?

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Most people are familiar with basic electricity tariffs, such as single rate and time of use, but what about a controlled load? Despite many households and businesses having a controlled load tariff – maybe without even realising – it’s something that’s easy to overlook when comparing providers and plans. This could prove a costly mistake, as a controlled load can help reduce overall energy costs.

In this article, Canstar Blue explains what you need to know about a controlled load tariff, whether or it’s a good option for you, and how much you could potentially save.

What is a controlled load?

A controlled load is a tariff dedicated to large, high energy-usage appliances that is metered separately to the rest of a property. It’s most commonly used for hot-water systems. However, customers may have the option to connect multiple appliances, depending on their network and metering set-up.

Electricity usage of nominated appliances on a dedicated circuit is tariffed at a lower rate than energy used throughout the rest of the property. All other electricity usage is charged at a general usage rate, be it a single rate, time of use, block rate or another tariff.

Controlled load tariffs may be called something else depending on your state and retailer, but all function in the same way. Some controlled load names/types by state include:

  • New South Wales: Controlled load 1 and controlled load 2
  • Victoria: Controlled load/30dedicated circuit charge
  • Queensland: Tariff 31 and Tariff 33
  • South Australia: Controlled load
  • Tasmania: Tariff 62 or Tariff 63, (previously Tariff 61, no longer offered to new customers)
  • Australian Capital Territory: Controlled load 1 and controlled load 2

Is there a catch to using a controlled load tariff?

The catch with controlled load tariffs is that electricity is only supplied to the nominated appliances for a limited number of hours each day, depending on the type of controlled load.

While Victoria and South Australia households only have one type of controlled load, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania customers have two – controlled load 1 and controlled load 2. As mentioned above, some electricity retailers use different names to describe their controlled load tariffs, but they are functionally identical. These tariffs can be listed as Dedicated Circuit 1 or Off-Peak, for example.

Finally, customers should note that they may be charged ‘supply charge‘ for a controlled load tariff, in addition to the standard usage charge. This is a charge of a few cents and applies each day you remain connected to the network.

What’s the difference between controlled load 1 and controlled load 2?

The difference between controlled loads 1 and 2 is that the former is cheaper than the latter. However, electricity is available for longer periods on controlled load 2, making it the more versatile option.

Controlled load 1 (Tariff 31 in QLD, and Tariff 62 in TAS) is usually offered overnight, at time when demand on the grid is at its lowest. Controlled load 2 (or Tariff 33 in QLD) offers more flexibility as it’s split into day and night hours, including higher-use periods such as 7am-5pm.

Your electricity distributor is responsible for electing which hours electricity is supplied on a controlled load tariff. But it will usually be for eight to 18 hours each day at non-peak energy demand periods.

Can a controlled load save me money?

Provided you are comfortable with limiting the operating hours of certain appliances to non-peak times, a controlled load tariff can help most households save money. How much it could save you will depend on your energy provider. Your location will also be a contributing factor, as electricity rates vary considerably across different states and distribution networks.

To give you an idea of what you could expect to pay on your energy bill with a controlled load, we have collated the quarterly estimated costs for single rate, controlled load 1 and controlled load 2 for each state. We emphasise that this is a broad guideline based on average usage assumption on each distribution network. The larger an appliance tariffed on a controlled load is, the more you could stand to save.

Also keep in mind that controlled load 1 and controlled load 2 are designed to suit different purposes. While controlled load 2 is more expensive than 1, electricity is supplied for longer hours. Potentially, this makes controlled load 2 the better option for households with small hot-water systems or other appliances.

Average Quarterly Energy Costs – Single Rate + Controlled Load
State Network Quarterly Usage Single Rate (SR) SR + Controlled Load 1 SR + Controlled Load 2
NSW Ausgrid 1705kWh $659.10 $594.47 $600.17
Endeavour Energy 1855kWh $727.49 $690.52 $694.75
Essential Energy 1655kWh $773.36 $704.85 $706.49
VIC AusNet Services 1500kWh $610.62 $564.81
Citipower 1500kWh $468.66 $675.71
Jemena 1500kWh $517.71 $492.71
Powercor 1500kWh $534.53 $504.66
United Energy 1500kWh $499.59 $472.82
QLD^ Energex 1579kWh $594.66 $561.36 $564.79
SA SA Power Networks 1504kWh $762.25 $672.27
Source: www.canstarblue.com.au – 30/04/2024. Electricity usage cost estimates based on the average usage rates from the above table. Scenario based on a customer who uses the same amount of electricity as the reference annual usage for a controlled load plan from each distributor. Based on a 365 day year. ^In Queensland, the tariffs are more commonly referred to as tariff 11 (single rate), tariff 31 (controlled load 1), and tariff 33 (controlled load 2).

Based on our calculations, households in SA were able to save the most by switching to a controlled load while households in VIC were least likely to benefit from making the switch.

Cheap single rate electricity plans

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 3911kWh/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 4613kWh/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 4011kWh/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.

Most households should be able to save money with a controlled load tariff. While the amount a household stands to save depends on myriad factors, it’s unlikely that a controlled load will leave you worse off.

That said, if your controlled load tariff includes a supply charge, you might end up spending more than is necessary if your home is often left empty, or the controlled load appliances aren’t used. This is because supply charges apply regardless of whether any electricity is consumed.

It’s also important you consider whether you are comfortable with electricity supply being limited to off-peak hours for your nominated appliances. If you have an instantaneous, or small electric hot-water system, a controlled load tariff might not be suitable. If you wish to nominate another appliance for a controlled load, such as a pool pump or air conditioner, then an electrician may be required to create a new dedicated circuit.

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Original Author: Jared Mullane

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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