How to get the best energy discounts

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When it comes to electricity, we all want to get the best deal possible, hence why many of us have been attracted to retailers offering big discounts in the past. While changes to the energy industry mean those huge 40% discounts are now a thing of the past, the discounts you see advertised today can still help you slash your power bills, provided you stick to the conditions. In fact, it’s even the case that small 10% or so discounts now have more significance than those huge discounts of the past.

Confused? Don’t worry. The good news is that comparing energy plans is now easier than it has been in a long time, and the percentage savings you see will be a genuine indicator of which plans really offer the best value. In this report, we’ll look at the types of energy discounts available, and reveal some of the cheapest plans on our database, whether they include a discount or just competitive usage and supply rates.

The first thing to get your head around is the difference between conditional and unconditional discounts.

Conditional vs Unconditional Discounts

When you see an energy retailer advertising a percentage discount saving, be sure to check whether it says ‘conditional’ or ‘unconditional’. Those extra two letters can make a big difference. Why? Because energy is all about marketing, and the retailers use percentage savings to make their plans stand out from the crowd. With conditional discounts, you’ll have to meet the conditional of the discount to receive it, which is usually paying on time or by direct debit. Unconditional discounts, on the other hand, are pure marketing. You don’t need to meet any conditions to get the discount, but the retailer uses this to make its plan stand out. After all, what’s the point in an unconditional discount? You may as well just give me the savings straight up!

What do you get discounts for?

Conditional discounts can apply to various things that generally relate to you being a great, helpful energy customer, that makes life easier for the retailer.

  • Paying your bills on time: Make sure your bill is paid by the due date and you could receive a tidy pay on time discount. However, if you fail to pay on time, you’ll lose the discount and effectively be stung with a hefty late payment fee.
  • Paying bills by direct debit: Set up direct debit billing so the amount you owe is automatically taken from your nominated bank account on the due date. Direct debit discounts can be an easy way to make some notable savings.
  • Receiving your bills and other communications via email: Some people still like to receive paper bills in the mail, but if you’re happy to receive an email bill instead, it’s an easy way to earn an extra discount.
  • Some providers also offer discounts for signing up online: If you sign up online rather than over the phone, your energy company could save money by needing fewer sales staff on the phones. This is why many offer incentives to get people to sign up online.

Put simply, you’ll be offered a discount for things that make life easier for your energy provider, such as sending bills via email instead of post. It’s also common to see discounts available if you meet a combination of these conditions. Read on for more discount details, or jump straight into our energy plan comparison tool.

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Energy deals available right now

Energy discounts can be a good way of bringing down your overall power costs, provided you stick to the conditions. So, what discounts are currently on offer? The following tables show some of the plans on our database which include either a pay on time or direct debit discount. Remember, there could be other plans available that work cheaper, even if they don’t include a discount. So we also include plans with no discounts. These costs are based on selected postcodes in each state, so use our comparison tool for specific quotes in your area.

NSW energy plans with and without discounts

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.

VIC energy plans with and without discounts

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.

QLD energy plans with and without discounts

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 costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. See here for further information on the Reference Price, which in this comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Use our comparison tool for a specific comparison. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

SA energy plans with and without discounts

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.

Which discount will save me more?

There are two main types of discounts – usage charge discounts, and whole-bill discounts. Your power bill is comprised of usage charges and supply charges. Usage charges refer to the component of your bill that reflects the amount of power you’ve actually used. For medium to large households, usage charges will typically comprise the largest part of your electricity bills. Supply or service charges are incurred simply for being connected to the grid. These are fixed charges, usually between $1 and $2, which apply regardless of how much electricity you used, if any.

It’s more common for discounts to apply to usage charges only, though some electricity deals apply the discount to the entire bill (both usage and supply charges). But just because a discount applies to your entire bill, rather than just part of it, does not necessarily mean you’re getting an amazing deal. A 10% discount off usage charges, for example, could mean lower overall costs than a 5% discount on your entire bill.

So what kind of discounts will you find? Canstar Blue research shows that discounts of 10% or more off usage charges are common in Victoria where competition between electricity providers is fierce. Discounts can be common in other areas, but many retailers have now moved away from discounts altogether and instead just offer lower base prices to begin with.

What are discount benefit periods?

Power Prices

A benefit period refers to how long a discount will apply after a customer signs up. Discounts are used to attract new customers, so they sometimes only last a year or two after a new customer has come on board. Usually benefit periods are for 12 months, though it’s not uncommon to see deals with 2 or 3 year benefit periods. Pay attention to when your discount expires, otherwise you risk paying more for electricity than you need to. Your electricity retailer should contact you toward the end of your benefit term, but you should also consider taking the initiative to shop around or contact your current provider yourself to see if they can renew your discount or even offer you a better deal.

With this in mind, there might be better value in finding a plan with a smaller discount, but that runs for two years or more. Once you start comparing electricity plans, you are likely to find providers offering longer term deals, or even find one that has a lifetime discount. And of course, there is nothing stopping you trying to negotiate a longer term with your provider. However, to get the best deals and to make sure you’re always paying the lowest possible rates in your area, you will likely need to shop around every 12 months or so.

Which electricity providers offer the biggest discounts?

Below is a list of retailers currently offering conditional discounts across each state. Remember though, big discounts do not always mean big savings. Use our energy comparison tool above to find out how they really stack up on price in your area.

Energy Discounts in NSW

You can see how these retailers and their big discounts stack up in our NSW price comparison table.

Energy Discounts in Victoria

Don’t forget that big discounts don’t always mean the best prices. See which electricity retailer is the cheapest in our VIC price comparison.

Energy Discounts in Queensland

To see whether their big discounts pay off, check out our QLD price comparison table.

Energy Discounts in South Australia

It’s easy to get carried away by big discounts, but be sure to check our SA price comparison table to see whether these retailers are all they’re cracked up to be.

A word of caution on energy discounts

AGREEMENT CONCEPT

Energy discounts can save you hundreds of dollars a year, but only if you stick to the conditions – failure to do so can leave you paying a lot more. Not only do you lose the discount benefit, you could also incur late payment fees (usually around $20).

Some electricity deals with large discounts may also have increased usage and supply rates. This means you might not be receiving as good a deal as you think – especially if you don’t meet the conditions to receive the discount. If you’re the type of person who tends to fall behind on your bills from time to time, it might be better to avoid electricity plans with pay on time discounts and focus more on deals with low rates or guaranteed discounts.

Don’t just assume that energy plans promising big discounts will work out to be the cheapest. When comparing electricity deals, always review their energy price factsheets to make sure you have a good understanding of the base rates being charged. While discounts can certainly help, it defeats the purpose if you’re simply getting a big discount off a large bill.

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