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While it is difficult to think of a life without electricity or gas, many Aussies recognise the importance of choosing environmentally-friendly energy sources for electricity. Some people may prefer simply buying Green Power, a name for electricity derived from renewable sources, while others generate their own electricity by installing solar photovoltaic panels on their property. 

Many energy retailers in Australia offer plans that incentivise efforts to go green through solar feed-in tariffs and bundled discounts. However, newer entrants into the energy market like Discover Energy have focused exclusively on encouraging customers to switch to producing or using clean energy. Further, customers with solar installations on their property are also encouraged to adopt Discover Energy’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) technology and become “smart energy traders”.

Discover Energy, which received its electricity retail and gas retail authorisation in 2018 and 2019 respectively, also aims to convince energy consumers to adopt smart technologies. By doing so, the company believes that Aussies can minimise energy waste and use energy more efficiently. The use of smart meters that digitally track energy usage is now mandatory for most energy customers, except those who’ve opted out of replacing their functioning older meters. Customers signing up for a Discover Energy contract can take advantage of smart meters by tracking their energy use on the DE Insight mobile app. 

Can I save on electricity costs by switching to Discover Energy?

If you are switching from another energy provider to Discover Energy, you should consider comparing more than just the electricity tariffs. Unlike other providers, Discover Energy has a stated commitment to offering a “smarter solution” rather than the “traditional energy supply model”. While you can buy the usual electricity and gas plan from Discover Energy, you will likely benefit more if you are keen on adopting advanced technologies to monitor and transform your household’s energy usage. Given that Discover Energy is a newer retailer, you should check if they cover your postcode, even if they appear to operate in your city or region. 

For instance, there are three electricity plans offered by Discover Energy in South Australia, Solar Smart, Smart Saver, and Economy Saver. All three plans offer customers the same supply and usage charges, but customers opting for the Solar Smart or Smart Saver plans could realise more savings. However, since these are smart plans, customers need to agree to receive all bills and communications by email or through their Discover Energy online account.

Further, Solar Smart customers could be eligible for a higher solar feed-in tariff, which is currently 16 cents/kWh for the first 300 kWh sent back to the grid in a quarter and 10 cents/kWh for the next 300 kWh. In comparison, the other two plans offer a flat solar feed-in tariff of 6 cents/kWh. If you haven’t installed solar photovoltaic panels on your property, Discover Energy can provide you with the panels as well as storage batteries at a competitive price. This equipment is sourced from One Stop Warehouse (OSW), some of whose directors are also executives of Discover Energy. 

Customers who want to rely on smart technology even more are encouraged to turn their homes into a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and earn energy income by trading it with Discover Energy. This conversion involves installing an inverter to power your home, which is run using a battery charged by solar power. An app installed with the inverter enables cloud-based monitoring of your home’s energy usage as well as the energy demand on the grid in your area.

The excess solar power generated in your home can be sold to the grid in exchange for a premium feed-in tariff.  For example, Discover Energy customers signing up for the VPP plan in Victoria could be eligible for a solar feed-in tariff of up to 20 cents/kWh of electricity exported to the grid. 

Another smart technology option offered by Discover Energy is IntelliPower, an AI-based electricity demand forecasting and supply switching service. The IntelliPower system monitors data collected by a compatible smart solar inverter to estimate when to power your home using electricity from the grid instead of using solar power. According to the company, customers choosing a time-of-use electricity tariff stand to gain the most from implementing the IntelliPower technology.  For instance, during peak demand hours, when electricity from the grid is most expensive, your home could be powered using more solar power if there’s enough energy stored in the inverter.

Does Discover Energy also offer gas plans?

Natural gas continues to be a major energy source in Australia, even if it is a fossil fuel and contributes to greenhouse emissions. However, in terms of household energy usage, a gas connection may be preferable for some people with significant heating requirements. While Discover Energy is focused on solar-powered electricity generation, storage, and trading, it is an authorised gas retailer in NSW, Queensland and South Australia and plans to start retailing gas in Victoria in April 2021. 

Discover Energy usually offers one standing gas contract and one market gas contract with a staggered, usage-based tariff.  People using a higher amount of gas are eligible to pay a lower rate. Customers opting for the market contract may also be eligible for discounted usage charges, but they must pay through a direct debit arrangement. Neither of the gas plans includes a contract lock-in period, and customers can choose to exit without paying an additional fee. 

How do I qualify for discounts on Discover Energy electricity and gas plans?

Many of the energy plans offered by Discover Energy include guaranteed discounts on usage charges for eligible customers. For instance, the NSW Residential Gas Budget Offer guarantees a 22 per cent discount on usage charges for new customers who sign up via the company’s website. Further, customers taking up this offer can only receive their bills by email and pay the bill through a direct debit or by using their credit card. Keep in mind that paying by credit card incurs a 1 per cent payment fee, while a failed direct debit payment can result in a $2.50 dishonour fee. Any discounts that customers are eligible for are automatically calculated and mentioned as such in the energy bill.

Apart from such discounts, Aussies possessing electricity and gas concession cards issued by their respective state’s government can apply to Discover Energy to get a concession. Once they apply, Discover Energy will confirm their eligibility for the concession and make the necessary deduction to their energy bill. If you aren’t sure about your eligibility for a government concession or rebate, you can look up the information here. You should remember to provide the concession details accurately to Discover Energy, as any mismatch in information can result in your application being rejected.

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How to find cheap gas and electricity?

One of the best ways to find cheaper gas and electricity plans is to compare the plans offered by various service providers in your area. You can compare any perks or discounts available from the retailers and the standard costs and fees. You’ll also be able to calculate the estimated monthly, quarterly, and annual costs.

Be careful choosing based solely on these upfront perks or costs, however. These discounts or lower usage perks may end when the contract or benefit period expires on your current plan. When you compare online, you can often find a better plan. 

Your total energy bill includes supply and usage charges, which vary from one provider to another. You can shop around online to find a retailer that offers competitive prices on these charges and any other fees. Discounts can help reduce your bill, and it makes sense to review your bill and think about how to find cheaper gas and electric providers at least once a year.