There are two main types of energy plans:
- market retail plans
- standard retail plans.
Market retail plans
Prices under market retail plans:
- are set by energy retailers
- can change at any time, even just after you’ve signed up.
If your energy price is changing, your retailer must tell you at least five business days before the price changes (or at least 10 business days before if you live in Queensland).
They must also:
- tell you when the price will change
- tell you what the tariffs and charges are before and after the change
- notify you via your preferred method of communication, such as email, SMS or mail.
But because the prices are set by the retailer, you can sometimes get discounts.
Some retailers have plans where the price is fixed for a certain period. They sometimes call this a:
- fixed price
- price guarantee
- price freeze.
But make sure you check the prices. There might be another plan with a lower overall tariff rate.
Standard retail plans
If you don’t want to sign up to a market retail plans, you can choose a standard retail plan. This is sometimes called a standing offer.
With standard retail plans, prices:
- are often set by the government depending on where you live
- are generally higher than for market retail plans
- can’t change more than once every six months.
There are other differences to market retail plans. For example:
- you can’t get the discounts like you can with market retail plans
- there is a minimum amount of time before you can have your energy cut off if you don’t pay
- retailers must do more to tell you about price increases.
You might be on a standard retail plan if:
- you have been in the same location for several years
- your market retail plan has expired
- you have never taken up a market retail plan.
Pre-payment meters and bulk hot water
There are different rules for energy plans if:
- your property has a pre-payment meter
- you live in an apartment and pay for bulk hot water.
These rules may differ depending on where you live. Contact your retailer if you want to find out more.
With energy plans, ‘fixed term’ means the plan has a particular time period. It does not mean ‘fixed price’. Prices can go up!