Imagine having someone to manage your energy needs so you don’t have to worry about it.
A new free website launched at the Wollongong Innovation Campus this month aims to save Illawarra businesses and households $1 million on their electricity and gas bills in the next six months.
EZswitch is a new Wollongong startup at iAccelerate that is being described as an Australian first by chief executive Philip Oakman. It is a free, ongoing energy management website that compares, switches and reviews household and small-to-medium enterprise (SME) energy plans on a regular basis. And it can all be done quickly online in a matter of minutes without the need to speak to someone face-to-face or sit on a telephone.
Mr Oakman and his rapidly growing team have a target of saving 3,500 Illawarra customers $1 million in energy costs in the next six months. EZswitch is free to use and offers an ongoing energy solution not just a comparison like other websites. Mr Oakman said it saves customers time and money and ensures they always get a competitive rate for both gas and electricity year-on-year.
Then every 12-months, without the customer having to ask for their energy bill to be reviewed again, EZswitch compares the latest offers from all retailers to ensure the customer is still on a competitive plan.
And if required EZswitch will switch the customer with their permission to the best offer with minimal effort. Asked how the service is free Mr Oakman said “we get paid a small fee by energy retailers to provide the service on an ongoing basis”.
He said energy is a necessity, but the industry is highly complex.
What his team are doing is offering a unique energy solution that saves people time and money.
EZswitch is already enjoying a rapid take up because of its ability to make something complex easy.
Knowing what to do to save money on energy is complicated because while Endeavour is the only electricity distributor in the region there are 24 electricity retailers with 120 electricity plans available to residential customers and 579 plan variants. For small business customers there are 117 electricity plans available with 555 plan variants.
Similarly Jemena is the Illawarra’s gas distributor. But there are eight retailers offering 39 gas plans to residential customers and 26 gas plans for small business customers.
According to industry research, while customers are aware that there could be better energy deals available for them, switching providers is perceived to be too complex, difficult and time consuming.
What EZswitch does is invest all the time and effort required to find the best, tailored deals for its customers. It them makes the switching and ongoing renewal process easy.
A recent IRIS Research survey showed most Illawarra respondents paid $3,000 on their annual household energy bills.
In addition, 75.5 per cent of respondents were concerned about their future energy costs over the next year.
66 per cent of respondents indicated that their household energy (electricity and gas) bills had increased in the past six months. In many cases the rise was up to 20 per cent.
“We want to take the hassle out of saving on energy costs and do the hard work for our customers,” Mr Oakman said.
“We understand the barriers of having to negotiate energy deals and switch providers, and we know there are energy savings available, so we’re looking forward to building trust among the Illawarra’s energy customers and saving them money”.
Illawarra small-to-medium (SME) businesses are another core market that heavily relies on ensuring they have the most cost-effective energy deal that provides value for money.
According to the NSW Business Chamber’s latest energy survey amongst Illawarra/South Coast businesses, 59.6 per cent indicated that the most recent energy price increases affected their business. 91.4 per cent of Illawarra respondents said their profits were affected by price increases.
A recent Australian Council of Trade Unions report stated that Illawarra’s gas prices have increased by 7 per cent and electricity prices by 10 per cent over the past year.
Illawarra household energy usage insights: Source – IRIS Research.
- 66 per cent of Illawarra survey respondents indicated that their household energy (electricity and gas) bills had increased in the past six months, mostly by up to 20 per cent.
- 88 per cent of the above Illawarra households attributed this to price rises rather than increased consumption, which had a negative impact on their quality of life through reduced disposable income, comfort and convenience in their homes.
- Most Illawarra survey respondents paid up to $3,000 on their annual household energy bills, with a small number (2 per cent) paying over $4,000 per annum.
- For those that had taken action to reduce their household energy consumption in the past six months, the most popular actions were reducing house heating/cooling, turning lights off and turning-off electronic equipment standby facility.
- When it comes to non-consumption-based actions, respondents were most likely to have sought a better deal from their energy suppliers, and/or switched suppliers.
- 10 per cent of survey respondents indicated they had switched energy suppliers in the past six months.
- 75.5 per cent of respondents were concerned about their future energy costs over the next year, and most expected their energy costs to increase
Illawarra small to medium business energy usage insights: Source – NSW Business Chamber’s Illawarra/South Coast Energy and Electricity Survey.
- 59.6 per cent of Illawarra business survey respondents indicated that the latest energy price increases affected their business.
- 91.4 per cent of Illawarra respondents said their profits were affected by the latest energy price increases.
- 22.9 per cent suffered reduced investments / expansions, 17.1 per cent had to pass the price increases onto customers and 5.7 per cent of respondents had to make staff reductions.
- In terms of the barriers faced by small-medium businesses in proactively reducing energy costs, 58.8 per cent indicated they already negotiated the best energy deal and implemented energy saving projects, but feel the costs are still too high.
- 23.5 per cent advised retail energy bills are too hard to understand, and almost 15 per cent of Illawarra respondents claim there is a lack of competition among retailers in the Illawarra.