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Love at first Spike: The energy savings game helping households lower power bills

As a high energy user, with a five-bedroom household and home business, the news of rising energy prices should not have been a welcome one for Tony O’Loughlan. But the Queensland family man has seemed anything but fazed since joining Spike. 

Spike, created by Origin Energy in late 2020, is an energy savings gamified program designed to encourage customers to lower their electricity usage in times of peak demand by rewarding them with PayPal cash, gift cards and, most importantly, money off their bills. 

Mr O’Loughlan, who has been an active participant for the last year and a half, said he had earned about $970 since joining.

“We love Spike. It not only helps us manage where our costs are going but it provides incentives to save, so what’s not to like.”

The program incentivises households to monitor their usage by giving them a forecasted energy usage amount during a designated SpikeHour. The objective then is to reduce usage as much as possible during this time, creating a gap between the forecasted and actual home energy usage. The larger the gap, the more points earned and effectively, the more money that’s shaved off bills. 

“In that hour we try to be as conservative as we can with power,” Mr O’Loughlan said. “What we do in our house is make sure everything is off – so no washing, no dishwashing, no car charging, all screens are off – and what we’ve found as well is that we actually sit around and enjoy some family time cause [sic] all the screens are dead.” 

SpikeHours are run at least once a week, with participants receiving about 24 hours’ notice of the upcoming event. The hour typically coincides with a time of peak demand as a means to reduce strain on the grid. 

How much are Aussies saving with Origin Spike?

According to Origin, since its conception, Spike participants have managed to save around 417,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy collectively, translating to about $4.3 million in savings. 

Some of the highest earners in the program have managed to earn almost $3,000 over two years, and at least 91 per cent of those involved in Origin Spike believe the program has taught them more about their energy usage.

Brendan Manzie, Origin’s General Manager of Future Energy, said the program helped to change energy usage behaviours of households for the better. 

“Not only are customers saving during dedicated SpikeHours but they are applying their newfound knowledge to regularly reduce peak demand consumption and save on their bills,” he said.

“These results combined with the behaviours we are seeing through the platform, gives us great confidence that, if deployed at scale, gamified demand management platforms like Spike can play a significant role in our future energy grid.”

For the O’Loughlans, it’s definitely this education that’s been the highlight of joining Spike.

“We’re a pretty high user, running a five-bedroom home, air conditioning, washing machine and it’s just helped us learn where our power goes really and how we can be more sustainable across the board,” Mr O’Loughlan said. 

“Before Spike we didn’t understand where our power went and I think what Spike’s given us is the ability to really drill into finding out where our power is going and where we can save.”

Mr O’Loughlan has since added smart plugs to every outlet in his home – which he said he’d been able to purchase using the points he earned. He can also monitor their usage through Spike, bringing a level of automation to his energy saving.

“What’s good about Spike is that I can link those smart plugs directly to Spike so if no one is at home, Spike will automatically switch those smart plugs on and off as required. It’s all part of the app.” 

In addition to Mr O’Loughlan, 85 per cent of Spike participants have also said they feel more in control of their energy usage since joining, with 77 per cent reporting that they feel a level of control over their power bill.

And with the power back in their hands, it seems the O’Loughlans have no plans to ditch the program any time soon, with Mr O’Loughlan even going as far as to say he ‘guarantees’ that Spike will continue to help his household energy usage and bills well into the future.

“While there are a lot of cheap prices promoted around, we still find Spike to be the best value for money one, because of the education, but also because of the incentives to join in SpikeHours. And the education that Spike’s given us has really helped us so we’re staying with it.” 

Spike is only open to Origin electricity customers who have a smart meter installed at their property. For the full terms and conditions, please visit the Origin Energy website. 

Origin Electricity Prices

Origin Energy Prices NSW

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for NSW. These are products from a referral partner†. 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.

Origin Energy Prices VIC

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from a referral partner†. 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.

Origin Energy Prices QLD

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from a referral partner†. 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.

Origin Energy Prices SA

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for South Australia. These are products from a referral partner†. 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.

How do I sign up to Origin Spike?

Spike is a free energy savings program that is open to eligible Origin customers. In order to join the program, you’ll need to meet the following criteria: 

  • Be signed up to an Origin residential electricity plan 
  • Have a smart meter installed at your property 
  • Have activated your Origin MyAccount 

If anyone at your residential address is connected to life support or requires electronic medical equipment for a health condition you may be ineligible to join Spike. 

Origin has also stated on its website that customers in Queensland with a traditional or basic meter that are interested in joining Spike may be eligible for a smart meter upgrade. 

To join Spike, Origin customers will need to apply through their MyAccount. 

For further details, it is best to head to Origin Energy’s website. 

Origin Solar Plans

Origin Solar Plans NSW

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in NSW. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans VIC

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in Victoria. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans QLD

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in SE QLD. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans SA

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in SA. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

What else do Origin Spike participants have to say?

In an August survey conducted by Origin Energy, 4,918 Spike participants revealed their thoughts, as well as some tips and tricks they use to make the most of the program. 

According to the data, washing machines were the most popular appliance to avoid using during SpikeHours (85%) followed by the dishwasher (80%) and clothes dryer (76%). Turning off or adjusting the temperature of the air conditioner was also a popular technique for saving energy (66%). 

Four out of five households also revealed that they have now changed the way they use energy at all times, not just during SpikeHours. Almost nine in ten households said they now try to save energy daily.  

As for the biggest motivators for participating in a SpikeHour, saving energy takes the cake (80%), followed by a keen interest to keep earning points (75%) and wanting to beat their forecasted amount (73%). 


Image credit: LookerStudio/Shutterstock.com

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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