Save on electricity with Transformer


Customers of CHOICE's unique energy switching service are finding hundreds of dollars of ongoing savings.

Get on top of the electricity market


In the face of rising electricity costs – up by 63% over the past decade – consumers are routinely advised to shop around for better energy deals, but it's almost impossible for us to tell how much another deal will cost compared to what we currently pay.

There are approximately 3000 energy deals in the market, with around 100 to 200 that could be relevant to each customer. How can one person evaluate each and every one? 

Transformer, CHOICE's unique new electricity switching service, takes the guesswork out of comparing deals and does the switching for you. As a nonprofit consumer advocate, we're delivering an independent service to get you on – and keep you on – the best deal possible by comparing every electricity policy available on the market.

Can you save on energy? Transformer is our new energy switching service. Send us your latest energy bill for a free analysis. Visit canisaveonenergy.com.au.

In this article:

How does CHOICE Transformer work?

Transformer is unlike other energy comparison sites as it offers an ongoing, customer-focused switching service, with a comprehensive view of the market. This means:

  • Transformer takes all of your bill details and accurately prices your current electricity costs.
  • It then searches every policy on the market to find the best deal for you. It prices these and compares them to your current costs.
  • If Transformer finds a deal that offers savings equal to or above the $99 annual subscription fee, you'll be asked if you'd like to join.
  • The switching is done for you.
  • The Transformer team continue to monitor deals in the market and will keep switching you every 90 days if there's a better offer, so you keep saving.

Accurately prices your current costs

Most comparison sites simply estimate your energy consumption and then look for the best deal from a limited set of offers, without truly comparing it to the prices you're already paying.

"As such they cannot accurately estimate the savings customers get from switching to the best offers or, indeed, whether customers are actually any better off from switching," says associate professor Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre and co-founder of MI Retail Energy (the software that underpins Transformer).

Transformer is different as it logs all the details from your current bill, including your electricity usage, tariff structure and type, rates and discounts and other details like controlled loads or having solar. It uses these to accurately price your current electricity costs, and compare these with the whole market.

Searches every policy and updates deals daily 

Every day the software used by Transformer scans and updates every deal that's publicly available to the market, and logs all price adjustments for those deals.

If you submit your bill for a comparison, the software narrows the field of offers through filtering, taking account of your tariff type and structure, your distribution region and other relevant details such as whether you have solar. All competing offers are priced and compared to your current deal.

Keeps checking for the best deal and does the switching for you

Every 90 days Transformer searches for a better deal for you. If one is found and you approve it, we'll switch you again.

Six months into Harry Korpetutuncu being with Transformer, GloBird increased the rates on their original offer. 

Transformer then found a deal with Alinta that saved Harry a further $150. Harry approved the change of energy company, and Transformer arranged the switch. 

"I think $99 is a good investment going forward. Straight away that $99 goes 'tick', I don't have to worry about my energy bill," he says.

When retailers quietly change their prices, Transformer knows

Energy tariffs are adjusted regularly, so the good deal you signed up to can erode over time. These price changes can be easily missed, as energy providers don't often explicitly tell you when it's changed.   

Standard offers can be adjusted every six months and market offers can change at any time – even after you've signed up.

Transformer scans the whole market to assess price adjustments and new deals every day making it possible to find you the very best deal available when your bill is compared to all relevant offers every 90 days. 

Tailors results for preferences

While Transformer is underpinned by patented software, the service is delivered by CHOICE staff, who can factor in your personal preferences to the comparison and recommendations.

For instance, you may want to avoid a particular retailer or choose one that shows strong support for renewable energy.

"You don't sign up until you know there is a saving for you. I trust CHOICE because I've been a member with them for many years," Belinda says.

Why people are using Transformer

Trust and experience

CHOICE has been fighting for a fair deal for Australians for over 50 years and we've identified electricity as a market in which householders get a raw deal.

Transformer's only client is you. The fee for service means there's no need for kickbacks or commissions from energy retailers.

"I've never trusted the other companies, because once there's a commercial arrangement, straight away there's a conflict of interest," says Harry.

CHOICE member Belinda Barrie lives with her mother and husband in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland. After sticking with Origin for a number of years, she felt it was time to find a better deal.

Belinda tried other comparison sites but because they were paid commissions, she thought they might not give her the best deal and felt CHOICE would provide a fairer opinion.

Once her bill was submitted and analysed, the Transformer team contacted Belinda to say she could save $700 by switching to a new plan.

"I have solar so they took that onboard when they took my details. They came back really quickly with the savings and I made the decision to swap," says Belinda.

Help cutting through confusing deals

When it comes to comparing energy deals, why don't Australians simply do it themselves?

Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as comparing apples with apples. A 2017 Victorian government review into that state's electricity market found that it's difficult for customers to make accurate comparisons.

CHOICE member Harry Korpetutuncu agrees. "One company can quote you 20c per kWh and you might compare that to another that charges 26c per kWh, but with a pay on time discount of 20%."

This sentiment is echoed by energy economist, Bruce Mountain. "It's very hard for customers to know whether they are getting a good deal since the discounts are difficult to work out, and customers don't know how the pre-discount price compares to the prices in the market."

A recent rule change bans discounts that are designed to lure consumers in, but that actually charge higher than the retailer's standard rates. 

As of July 2018, this change will ban energy retailers from offering pseudo discounts on inflated base rates that are above standard rates. These so-called deals are attractive to consumers, but in reality cost more than the retailer's standard rates.

While this is better for consumers, the rule change doesn't address a large number of other discounts that make it difficult to understand just how much your power costs.   

Other complexities that make it hard to compare energy deals include:

  • incentives ('your 12th month of electricity is free') 
  • exit fees 
  • solar feed-in tariffs 
  • GreenPower rates 
  • regional differences 
  • many different tariff types, structures and offers.

Saving you money

Harry was invited to take part in the Transformer pilot project in April 2017. At the time he wanted a cheaper energy deal and he'd already looked at some of the commercial comparison sites.

Harry took up the invitation and submitted his EnergyAustralia bill to the Transformer team at CHOICE. After logging his electricity usage, bill details and current costs, we found a deal with energy retailer Globird that offered annual savings of $500. He accepted the deal and the Transformer team switched him over.

"You couldn't do this on your own," Harry says. "The Transformer team look at a previous bill, they know how much you're paying and your average use."

When asked if he had any qualms about handing over his energy bill and usage details to a third party, he replied, "I'd have more qualms about handing over that information with your name, address, power usage and rates etc. to the other companies.

"As CHOICE is a consumer advocate, I feel more confident with it. And I'm reasonably confident that the service is going to be beneficial to me."

Other comparison sites are driven by profit

As we've reported in a previous article, profit-driven energy comparison sites such as iSelect, Compare the Market and Finder have some flaws:

  • They only compare a small portion of energy providers.
  • The prices quoted vary widely and you may not get the best offer available.
  • They're hard to compare because they calculate quotes using different methodologies.
  • Ts&Cs may not be properly explained.

Read more

How to choose a Greener energy retailer

5 ways to save energy

Best cities in Australia for solar and batteries

Start paying less for energy. CHOICE Transformer is a new energy switching service that keeps you saving.


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