A tariff is the way you get charged for your energy.
Choosing the right tariff for your circumstances can help reduce what you pay for your energy.
To help you work out what's best for you, it is important to understand:
- what the different tariffs are
- how they work.
The different types of electricity tariffs are:
- single rate
- time of use
- controlled load
Single rate tariffs
With a single rate tariff plan there are no peak or off-peak periods. This means that you pay the same rate whatever time of the day you use energy.
The rate is usually lower than the peak rates of a time-of-use tariff. This means a single rate plan could be a good choice if:
- you are at home a lot in the evenings from Monday to Friday
- you need to use your appliances (like your washing machine or dishwasher) more from Monday to Friday.
Single rate tariffs are sometimes called:
- flat rate
- standard rate
- anytime rate
- peak rate.
You don't need a smart meter to get a single rate tariff plan.
A time-of-use tariff means that the price of electricity changes at different times of the day. The types of rates available are:
- Peak – this is when electricity costs the most. Peak rates usually apply in the evenings from Monday to Friday.
- Off-peak – this is when electricity is cheapest. Off-peak rates usually apply overnight and on Saturday and Sunday.
- Shoulder – this is when electricity costs a bit less than peak. Shoulder rates usually apply in-between peak and off-peak periods.
A time-of-use tariff plan could be a good choice if:
- you are out a lot in the evenings from Monday to Friday
- you are at home during the day or on weekends
- you use your appliances (like your washing machine or dishwasher) on the weekend.
Some retailers have even more time periods than peak, shoulder and off-peak.
Retailers will tell you the start and end times of the different periods for their time-of-use plan in the Basic Plan Information Document or the retailer's written summary of the plan.
To get a time-of-use tariff plan, you need a meter that measures your electricity usage at different times of the day. For example, a smart meter or time-of-use meter.
Controlled load tariffs
For some appliances – like electric hot water systems, or slab or underfloor heating – you can be charged a controlled load tariff.
This means that the retailer charges a rate just for that appliance and the energy it uses. Often that appliance has its own meter.
This tariff is usually only used for appliances that run overnight or in off-peak times. So controlled load rates are usually lower than other rates.
If you have controlled load, it might also appear on your bill as 'dedicated circuit'. In Queensland it may be called 'Tariff 31' or 'Tariff 33'.
Plans with demand charges will have the usual usage and supply charges, but will have demand charges added on top.
Instead of measuring your usage over time, demand (measured in kilowatts or kW) is a measure of how intensely you use electricity at a point in time. Therefore, your demand will be high when you have many appliances on at the same time.
You need a smart meter to be eligible for plans with demand charges.
Different retailers have different ways of applying demand charges, for example, you may be charged:
- for your highest demand in a period of time
- an average of peak demand over a period of time
- different demand rates in different seasons.
Gas plans are only available with single rate tariffs.
Most gas plans use tariff blocks. A tariff block is how the retailer charges you for the amount of gas you use.
This means you pay:
- one rate or cost for the first part of your usage
- a different rate or cost for the next part (or parts) of your usage.
Blocks can apply to daily, monthly or quarterly usage.
Some gas plans have different rates for different times of the year, which are called seasonal rates. These rates are usually higher in winter.
There may be circumstances where a retailer is not able to offer you a plan you've chosen after completing your search on Energy Made Easy.
If this occurs, you should always ask the retailer why you can't sign up to that plan. This may help you find another retailer and another plan that is able to meet your needs.