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When can I switch energy suppliers without penalty?

When can I switch energy suppliers without penalty?

If you are looking to switch to a new energy supplier without paying a penalty, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

There are many reasons people might want to switch from their current energy supplier to a new one, from high prices to poor service.

When choosing an energy retailer, there are two factors that repeatedly come up: price and customer service. Which one you give more importance to depends largely upon your personal situation. Individuals on a tighter budget may give the price factor more importance. If you don’t mind spending a little more, then customer service may be just as important to you as price.

At the same time, it’s worth remembering that there are energy retailers in Australia who offer various types of incentives, such as discounts for signing up for a longer contract or using the supplier for both energy and gas.

Why you might want to switch energy providers

Different people switch from one energy retailer to another for different reasons, such as:

  • You’re looking out for a better price.
  • You’re not happy with the customer service provided.
  • You’re looking to change to renewable energy
  • You’re moving home
  • You wish to take advantage of a solar energy rebate.

If you live in Western Australia or certain parts of Queensland, you cannot choose your energy provider. The only exception in WA is in Perth, where you can decide for yourself. 

Why will making the switch cost me money?

It can take several months to switch energy providers unless you request your current retailer to make an immediate reading of your meter. Once this reading has been taken, your new retailer can start billing as soon as you settle what you owe to your current provider. If you wish to speed up the process, you may have to pay an extra charge for this, as power companies normally record a meter reading just a few times in an entire year.

If you’re switching over from one retailer to another before your contract period with your current retailer has expired, then you may be charged a termination fee for this.

When you’re moving house, you may have to pay an additional charge for a new connection.

When can you switch energy suppliers without penalty?

When you switch over to a new retailer, you can terminate your contract with your previous company without incurring any charges or penalties, provided you do this within the cooling-off period mandated by this retailer. Most of the time, this varies from five to 10 business days.

Also, the following situations could result in further penalties:

  1. Requesting an unscheduled meter reading.
  2. Switching over before your contract with your current retailer expires.
  3. When you move house; however, this can’t be considered a penalty. But it’s an additional payment.
  4. You have not made the complete payment due to your current retailer.
  5. You’re terminating your contract with the new retailer after the cooling-off period.

If you keep these points in mind, you can plan when to switch energy suppliers to avoid penalties, saving a few dollars in the process.

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This article was reviewed by Head of Content Leigh Stark before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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