We all know that searching for a new electricity retailer is as fun as shopping around for car insurance.
The idea of set and forget is much less painful but that option only serves to benefit the Electricity Retailers. However, with solar Feed in Tariffs on the decline in Queensland, the need to frequently shop around to find the best solar feed in tariff rate has become more important, especially when it’s the difference between paying a power bill or being in credit.
What is a Feed-in Tariff?
A Feed-in Tariff is a fee paid by your Electricity retailer for the amount of kilowatt hours (kWh), or energy, that feeds back to the electricity grid. This energy is the surplus energy generated by your solar panel system that your home did not consume directly.
How Can I Check My Electricity Bill to See if I’m Getting One?
Each Retailer lays out the information on their bill differently so look for words such as ‘solar feed-in tariff’, ‘export’ (kWh) or ‘Solar’ on your electricity bill. Regardless of the retailer, there will be a kilowatt hour amount, a price or rate per kilowatt hour and a total amount. Below is a sample of an AGL Bill showing the feed-in tariff amount and tariff rate.
Can’t Find a Solar Feed-in Tariff on Your Electricity Bill?
If you have solar panels and you are not receiving a feed-in tariff some possible reasons could be:
1) You are using all of the energy your panels are generating
2) Your system is faulty or is turned off
3) Your solar meter has not been installed
If the installer did not lodge a request to change the meter, although your system is producing energy and offsetting your consumption, you will not be able to receive a feed-in tariff credit for any energy your system produces that you do not consume.
Ring your electricity retailer to find out if they have a record of a solar meter being installed. If not, get in touch with the installer and ask them to lodge the form.
Things to consider when Shopping Around
When it comes to finding a better deal on your electricity bill, simply looking for an Electricity Retailer that gives you the highest Feed-in Tariff rate isn’t always the best way to go.
This is because some retailers, while offering slightly higher Feed-in Tariffs, can also have higher rates for the following:
The tariff rate for your general kilowatt hour usage
The fixed tariff rate for the daily supply charge
The fixed tariff rate for a solar supply charge (not charged by all retailers)
Depending on how much energy you use and how much you send back to the grid, any one or combination of the above could end up increasing the cost of the supply of energy and outweighing the benefit of the credit you would make from the slightly higher solar feed-in tariff.
How Do I Get a Better Deal?
1) Compare the Market Websites
When it comes to compare the market websites that help consumers shop around for a better deal on their energy bills it can be equally confusing to navigate. A lot of these sites rely on commissions from the retailers to be ‘preferred providers’ so that only certain providers pop up instead of showing you the whole range of options available. On top of that, a lot of these types of sites request your details so they can call you and pressure you into switching, so they make their commission.
One compare the market provider we have found to be quite good to use is called WATTever.
Their pros are that they show you every retailer and rank results by price (not by who pays them to be at the top). The best thing we’ve enjoyed is no sales calls. A follow up email is all you will get which can easily be ignored or deleted.
The site works by the consumer inputting the details of the most recent bill. From the information, it searches its database of the available energy plans and populates results along with predictions of your new energy costs if you were to change.
We’ve found this to be the quickest and easiest way to search the current energy plans of retailers to find the best deal and highest Feed in Tariffs on the market.
From here, it is always a good idea to contact the retailer to confirm the details of the plan and their expiry dates, before signing up.
2) Call Your Current Provider for a Better Deal
Alternatively, you can usually have some success by ringing your current retailer and asking for a better deal. If you know another provider is offering a particular discount or lower energy rate, see if they will match it. In most cases they will offer you something to keep your business, that is, if you can persevere through waiting on hold for extended periods of time to speak with a consultant.
Note: If you are looking to save energy on your business electricity bills, this is best done by an expert who can negotiate with retailers on your behalf and get access to bespoke deals. We recommend the services of WiseUp Energy Solutions. They are independent, honest with upfront fees and no trailing commissions like a traditional Energy Broker.
What About Storing My Excess Energy in Batteries?
As Electricity Retailers continue to reduce feed-in tariffs in Queensland, you could be tempted to think moving to battery storage makes more sense.
Storing your own excess energy is ultimately a great solution; however current battery technology and relatively high pricing makes the payback period for installing batteries slightly longer. In other words, its still cheaper to buy your night time energy from the electricity grid than store and use your own with batteries. As feed in tariffs start to decline the financial case for batteries will improve. More on this in another article.