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Consumers and small business say energy not ”value for money”: New national energy consumer study

Energy Consumers Australia today published the results of its first survey of the attitudes and activity of residential and small business consumers.

Rosemary Sinclair, CEO Energy Consumers Australia, said Australia’s first Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey will be repeated every six months, providing important new insights into levels of satisfaction, confidence and the lived experience of energy consumers across Australia.

“This is the most comprehensive study of the attitudes and activity of residential and small business energy consumers ever undertaken in Australia,” Ms Sinclair said.

“The survey paints a picture of an energy market that is producing a mixed set of outcomes for consumers.

“While overall levels of satisfaction with reliability and services standards are high, most consumers believe they are not getting value for money for their energy services.

“A high proportion of consumers do not believe the energy market is working for them and they do not expect value for money to improve in the future.

“That more energy consumers than not believe they’re getting better value for money from their banking, insurance, mobile phone and internet service providers – must focus the attention of the sector.”

Ms Sinclair, who will speak at today’s Clean Energy Conference, said the results suggest consumers have a real appetite for new technology – particularly batteries and solar – but the primary motivator is not environmental concern, but rather to help manage their energy use and costs.

“Consumers have made a big investment in solar panels already and the number installed could double in the future. There is an even greater appetite for battery storage technology with consumers reaching out for options to get control of their energy costs.”

She hoped the new data would serve as a resource for a sector facing the challenges of decarbonising the system; the transition to the new digital economy; and keeping a lid on bills.

“Although it’s now nearly 20 years since the national energy market was established, the picture about how well it is serving consumers has been far from complete.

“This survey sheds new light on what is motivating consumer decisions.”

Ms Sinclair said one of the key findings is that in states where there is some level of competition between retailers, a significant number of consumers who had not considered switching said it was because barriers were too high or that they felt there were no real alternatives.

“There are many consumers who simply feel it makes no difference which energy deal you are on or that it is too hard to find the time or information to make a decision. The sector needs to address those barriers because they are real concerns.”

The Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey report includes state by state breakdowns and a summary of the small business findings.

Key findings

  • Satisfaction with reliability of electricity services is high among consumers, ranging from 70% of consumers satisfied in Victoria to 82% in the ACT and 61% for small businesses.
  • Household consumer satisfaction with value for money of electricity services is low ranging from 29% in Tasmania to 52% in NSW, and 42% for small businesses.
  • Consumers are around 23% less likely to give a positive rating for the value for money they receive from their electricity services, compared with their mobile phone services.
  • By comparison, consumers are relatively satisfied with their gas services. Consumer satisfaction with value for money for gas services ranges from 43-66%.
  • People are highly unlikely to recommend their current electricity retailer to a friend or colleague with Net Promoter Scores ranging from -23 to -38 across jurisdictions and -32 for small business. Note: Net Promoter Score measures the difference between advocates and detractors of their service provider.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction, only 20-39% of household consumers say the energy market is working in their interests and 36% for small businesses.
  • Consumers do not expect outcomes from the market to improve in the future. Depending on the state or territory, only 14-29% of consumers are confident the energy market will provide better value for money outcomes for them in 5 years-time.
  • There is a high level of consumer activity in the energy market: Most consumers have invested in energy efficient lighting or appliances. More than half of households either have purchased solar panels or intend to do so in the next five years. Around one in three consumers are considering household battery storage.
  • Satisfaction with competition varies significantly with Victoria the only state where the majority of consumers are satisfied with the level of competition.


The survey was conducted in April this year.