How to change your gas provider
Like the electricity market, the gas market across most of Australia is open to competition. This means if your home is connected to gas, there will be several providers you can choose from in most areas. Which is great. Except that, as when comparing electricity retailers, you shouldn’t just be looking at the estimated cost.
In this guide, we will take you through all the things you need to know to make changing gas providers as hassle-free as possible.
Can I change gas providers?
The first thing to establish is what type of gas you are currently using. Natural gas is supplied via a network of underground pipes, and this is available in many locations. If your home is connected to natural gas, you would be able to change providers with ease, except if you live in Northern Territory, Western Australia or regional Queensland.
The other type of gas is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is supplied via gas bottles that your current supplier would swap out or refill on site as needed. More homes have access to LPG than to natural gas, though choice of supplier in regional areas might be more limited than in and around major centres. So, always look at what is available in your area before deciding to change gas providers.
Can I change if I still owe money to my current provider?
If you have an outstanding debt with your current gas supplier (excluding your current bill), or have asked them for Financial Hardship assistance, switching to another provider might not be possible. Many energy providers carry out credit checks before accepting new customers, and it is only after they have done this, that you will know if you can switch. However, if a new provider allows you to switch even though you have an outstanding debt with your previous provider, you will still need to settle that debt with the original provider. It does not disappear, and it does not transfer over to your new provider.
If you have prepaid your current gas supplier and have a credit on your gas bill, this will either be refunded to you in full, or used to reduce or clear your last bill with them.
Can I save by switching gas suppliers?
Quite often you could save money on your energy bill by switching to a different gas supplier. But there is a lot that can influence how much you can save. You need to look at both, the supply and usage charges. In relation to usage charges, you need to look at the rate per megajoule (MJ), conditional discounts, and also seasonal rates. Many suppliers charge a higher rate during winter, in addition to charging a higher rate for the first 50-100 MJ used per day. When comparing gas providers, don't look only at the estimated gas cost. And don’t be shy about asking your current provider for a better deal, but only after you have looked at deals from other suppliers.
What to look for when comparing gas suppliers
Now that you know you shouldn’t be looking only at the estimated gas cost, let’s break down the finer details of what you should focus on. All suppliers need to provide fact sheets for all gas plans they offer, and unlike the summary shown on their website, this document should include many of the below details.
Shown as cents per MJ. It can be a little complicated to understand since some suppliers might have a single rate regardless of usage, while others will have different rates for peak and off-peak usage, with peak usage rates applying from the start of May until the end of September. You could also find some suppliers using a sliding scale for their usage charges, with the first 50 to 100 MJ used per day costing more than the rest. However, you should still be able to use your older bills to calculate your average usage and work out how much you would pay for similar usage with a new supplier. If working all of this out is a little overwhelming, don’t forget that you can also find the information you need at comparison sites.
This is usually a fixed rate, shown as cents per day. Similar to the supply/service charge for electricity, this charge relates to the cost to supply your home with gas, either via the natural gas network or the delivery of LPG. The actual charge on your bill is determined by the number of days between billing dates, regardless of how much gas you used.
Other fees & costs
There are several other fees and charges suppliers could charge that is not reflected in the estimated gas costs quoted on their website. These could include payment processing fees, credit card fees, a charge for a printed bill, along with connection and disconnection fees and special service orders. Some of these only apply under certain circumstances and wouldn’t affect every bill, but you should still know what they are and how they compare with other providers.
Most gas providers also supply electricity, so you can sometimes find incentives for switching both gas and electricity to the same provider. Other incentives could include a once-off discount for signing up. There’s no reason to avoid these incentives, you only need to do a little extra work to see if the incentive makes the switch worth your while. A single one-off incentive could still see you paying less over a six to twelve-month period.
Knowing that some providers charge payment processing fees, always look at what payment options are available and if there are any that don’t incur a fee.
Looking at how other customers rate and review different suppliers will give you some indication of the level of customer service you could expect, but equally important is considering the customer support options offered by the supplier. Look at the hours the call centre is available, but also look at what types of self-support are offered. Being able to view invoices, check usage, and update your details should be available online or via an app without you having to call the supplier every time.
How to switch gas providers
Switching gas providers is easy once you have done a thorough comparison and are confident with your choice. To switch to Dodo you can call Customer Service on 13 Dodo (13 36 36), or arrange it all online. All you need to provide is identification and the full address of your home. Your new gas provider will send a request to the distributor (on your behalf) which will be forwarded onto your current provider. After your final meter read, your new gas provider will supply you gas. You will receive a final bill from your old provider.
How long does it take to switch?
The time to switch depends on hen your last gas meter reading occurred, which can take from a few weeks to a few months. For Victoria, gas meters are read every two months, and for NSW it’s read every three months. You will usually find the date of your next scheduled meter read on your most recent gas bill. You will still receive a final bill from your old gas provider, but your next bill will be from the new provider.
Do I pay to switch gas suppliers?
There is generally no cost involved in switching gas suppliers, so check your existing contract to see if any exit or termination fees apply. As with switching electricity retailers, there is a 10-day cooling-off period during which you can still change your mind and cancel the switch with no penalties.