How to save $$ in Victoria [Australia]

This post is for Victorians on a tight budget – i.e. people on Newstart, the Age Pension, Disability Pension or young people working in the GIG economy – and concerns energy bills such as gas and electricity.

The first, critical step to saving on your energy bills is to understand that utility companies bank on us being too busy to go out and actively look for better deals. The new initiative by the Victorian government only means that energy retailers have to inform you of their best deals. But those best deals could still be very expensive when compared to the rest of the marketplace.

To give you an example, I changed my gas supplier about a year and a half ago. At the time, my new gas supplier offered the best deal according to the Victorian government’s own comparison website:

https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au

This morning, when I did a fresh comparison, my existing gas supplier was close to the bottom of the list, and their best deal was over $400 more expensive [per year] than the new ‘best deal’. As a result, I got on the phone [contact details supplied by the government website], made sure the quote was still accurate and…signed up:

When AGL’s best is no longer the best, I’ll move my gas account again.

Gamers would recognize this as ‘churn’. The term refers to how gamers move from one ISP to another to get the best deal. I don’t ‘churn’ often, but since I became an age pensioner, I’ve learned that loyalty simply doesn’t pay. These days I ‘churn’ my gas, electricity and comms suppliers on a regular basis.

So what’s involved in comparing prices?

Once you land on the government’s comparison website, you’ll be asked a series of questions about how you use your gas [or electricity]. It pays to make your answers as accurate as possible so dig out your most recent bill and keep it handy. After you’ve completed all the relevant questions, the website will do some kind of general comparison and present you with a list of the best matches for your circumstances.

Gas pricing is a mess with about five different rates in both the ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’ categories, but don’t let it scare you. One easy thing to compare is the daily supply charge. Essentially this is the amount you pay for the privilege of having a gas connection. In other words, even if you don’t turn the gas on at all, you’ll still be charged that daily supply charge.

All retailers charge you for supply, but the amount varies. AGL’s daily supply charge is 62 cents. Another retailer I looked at [not one of the most expensive ones] was charging 83 cents. Assuming the rates don’t change for 365 days, that’s $226 vs $303 per year [or a saving of $77 per year].

When the cost of living means you have to think twice about buying that latte, a saving of $77 is nothing to be sneezed at. And when you add that small saving to the actual cost of using the energy, the savings really do add up.

So please, bookmark that government comparison website and check it out, at least once a year. Doing your homework and making a change will probably take an hour, all up, but the way I see it, I’ve just earned over $400 for that hour. Not a bad hourly rate, don’t you think?

And finally a word about keeping all your eggs in one basket. Energy retailers that supply both gas and electricity will try to convince you to move both utilities to them. Doing so may be more convenient. It may also be cheaper, sometimes. But…a cheap gas price does not automatically mean the electricity price will be the best available price as well.

Remember, the best price a retailer offers is not necessarily the best price from all retailers. Compare…and save.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

16 responses to “How to save $$ in Victoria [Australia]

  • daleleelife101.blog

    It is a lot of work but it’s possible to obtain better deals. One thing I’d add is if you are looking over the offerings and think the provider could do better, call them and ask. This year’s Origin Energy offerings weren’t as good as our previous deal but after some to-ing and fro-ing to his supervisor, the CSR matched the discount % rate of our previous deal and with the new pricing formula it ended up being even cheaper. Also if you have a pension card you are entitled to additional discounts on car rego, power, council rates and telephone, and possibly other things… always worth asking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Interesting you mention Origin. That’s the company I was with for so many years. When I made the first change, they were almost at the bottom of the list in terms of pricing. Now, they’ve clawed their way back up and are near the top of the list. I wonder if they lost a lot of people like me?
      I’ve slowly learned where and how to use my pension card. The hardest thing was learning to ask in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  • DawnGillDesigns

    We do this with everything. Constantly. It’s a tad exhausting, but I’m glad I make the time (which is lots!) to do so, because we are constant switchers of insurance, bank accounts, fuel and renegotiate mobile and broadband regularly too (not so many options for them) I find https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ invaluable for the UK. I assumed that there were the equivalent forums in other countries

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Since the govt put up its own comparison site, a load of private ones have sprung up, but I have my doubts about how unbiased they are.
      I think we’ve been conditioned to just stick with the one provider. Probably dates back to when energy, trains, trams, all the important basics were owned by the govt. They may not have been the most efficient, but things were a reasonable price. Now, most of the utilities have been privatised but we still think that the retailers have to be ‘fair’. -sigh- Okay, maybe not all ‘we’, but older ‘we’ do.
      Oh, and until quite recently, moving from one supplier to another wasn’t all that easy. Home loans are still like that. :/

      Liked by 2 people

  • anne54

    That’s great advice, Meeks. I am the person they make the Lazy Tax for…lazy (really read too busy) to shop around. But I should, because I will continue to pay the premium prices. Not just energy suppliers either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      It’s okay, Anne. This is kind of recent for me too. I used to think that they were all much of a muchness so why go through the hassle? I’ve learned my lesson. Now I kick myself for all the years I paid top dollar for what amounts to nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Elizabeth Drake

    Interesting.

    Here in the US, gas and electric are controlled by government overseen monopolies. I have no choice who I buy my gas or electric from!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      That’s how things used to be here. Then the utilities that generated the gas and electricity were basically sold off and became ‘wholesalers’ [but there aren’t that many of them so little to no competition].
      As wholesalers, they then sell the energy to retailers who basically make their money from the ‘supply charge’.
      To make the whole thing even harder on consumers, many of the gas producers have sold our natural gas off shore so now there’s a supply problem.
      It’s a mess and energy prices have skyrocketed. Naturally, those hit hardest are the ones who live on fixed incomes.

      Liked by 2 people

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