Getting a better deal on your energy bill

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has today introduced the mandatory Better Bills Guideline that will require energy retailers to tell their customers, just by a quick glance at their power bill, whether they could be on a better offer, and how to switch.

The Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction proposed a rule change to make electricity bills simpler. Energy retailers in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, South Australia and Tasmania will now implement the mandatory guideline in 2023.

The guideline will require a compulsory ‘better offer’ statement on the first page of the bill, under the heading “Could you save money on another plan?”.

AER Chair Ms Clare Savage said the new requirements were a key part of the regulator’s push to support consumers, especially those experiencing vulnerability, to understand and participate in the energy market, and make choices that are right for their individual circumstances.

“Over time, energy bills have become more complex and detailed, and our research revealed that this can reduce understanding and create confusion,” Ms Savage said.

“Our purpose as a regulator is to make energy consumers better off now, and in the future, and this new industry requirement for simpler energy bills goes to the heart of this.”

She said extensive consumer research and industry consultation gave the regulator confidence that the new guideline will deliver long-term benefits to consumers, particularly those in financial hardship or those who may have lower levels of literacy or come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.

“We’ve tested the bill requirements with more than 14,000 customers during our research, and had input from retailers, consumer groups, and energy ombudsman schemes.

“Our research told us that customers ‘would love to see if there was a different plan available that would potentially save [them] more money’ and that ‘bills should be precise, simple, accessible and understandable for everyone’. As one customer puts it, they would like a bill that is ‘uncluttered and easy to understand and gives a good picture of where the costs, discounts and credits are coming from.’

“We’ve listened and we have taken a tiered approach to information, restricting the amount of content allowed on the first page to ensure simple, clean design. At first glance, this will give customers the essentials and tell them whether they might switch and save. That’s a great outcome for consumers,” Ms Savage said.

The AER has produced an example of a new format bill that will assist retailers as they gather feedback from their customers to ensure a final design is reflective of their customers’ needs and complies with the new guideline.

The guideline also requires clear contact information on how customers can switch, whether conditions apply, and a reference to the AER’s comparison website www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.

The guideline provides the exact wording that retailers must apply to the better offer information on their bill.

Could you save money on another plan?

Based on your past usage, our “Name of Plan” may cost you up to “$ amount” less per year than your current plan.

Or

Could you save money on another plan?

Based on your past usage, you are on the best plan we can offer you.

The rules require retailers to complete their implementation of the Better Bills Guideline by 31 March 2023 but feedback from retailers suggests it may be more cost effective for retailers to have more time to do this. The Australian Energy Regulator will work with retailers and the Australian Energy Market Commission to see if a short extension can be achieved.

Issued date: 
1 April 2022
AER reference: 
NR 42/22
Contact: 
AER Media 0466 409 921 media@aer.gov.au