When it comes to paying for electricity, there are said to two kinds of people - those that want to find a better deal and those that bury their heads in the sand. But paying for energy is like paying for any service; the service provider is trying to make money. So to get the best deal, you need to make a solid effort to find it.
There's expected to be energy price hikes in July and while the number of households going solar is on the rise, everyone else is advised to look at fixed rate electricity plans as opposed to variable rate plans.
Solar households in NSW might soon be paid for the power they export to the grid, due to an increase in energy prices in the wholesale market. A draft proposal by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal showed a higher feed-in tariff range of 11.6 to 14.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
It's great news for NSW solar households but it's perhaps time others had a close look at how much they pay for their electricity and make some cost-saving changes.
Canstar Blue, a customer satisfaction research and ratings business, has found fixing energy prices might be a good financial move. Fixed rate plans allow customers to lock in prices for two years, but the concern has always been that the extra costs won't be worth it.
Editor Simon Downes told HuffPost Australia across NSW, VIC and QLD, fixed rate prices are only marginally higher than current variable rates.
"Anything above price hikes of 10 percent this July and consumers will be onto a winner with fixed rates. When you also consider a second round of price increases next year, it starts to look like a very good move. In South Australia, fixing doesn't look like such a good move, with average fixed rates currently much higher than variables rates," Downes said.
"You can make the best of the current situation and, if you don't want to switch providers at least contact your existing retailer and negotiate a better deal with them. If you've never switched retailers then you might be stuck on a standard energy contract which means you could be paying hundreds of dollars more than you used to."
While many of us bury our heads in the sand and don't want to think too deeply about energy bills, Downes said the bare minimum you should do is contact your retailer and ask to be moved to the cheapest market offer.
"It's the market contracts that offer the opportunity to save. For example, if you're an AGL customer on a standard contract, if you asked to move to the cheapest market offer, you'd save a couple of hundred dollars a year, it's as easy as that. Or you can switch retailers altogether and it's likely to result in a good move for you," Downes said.
"Energy can be confusing, and unless you're an engaged customer I can understand why people are baffled and just hope for the best. But if you hope for the best, you're not going to get it. Nobody is going to come over and offer to cut your power bill, you have to put in the leg work. It starts by picking up the phone, asking your retailer for a better deal and, if they can't, then go somewhere else."
Another issue is that there seems to be a perception that switching retailers is a difficult process but Downes said the opposite is true.
"Signing up with a new provider is very simple. You don't even have to contact the old retailer again. Just find a new provider and they'll switch you over. You won't hear from your old retailer again unless it's just receiving a final bill."