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Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey Findings: June 2020 + COVID Special Report

The Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey is a long-term project for Energy Consumers Australia. It is designed to provide information on household and small business consumer sentiment with a focus on the three key areas of satisfaction, confidence and activity. As the survey is undertaken every six months it tracks changes in sentiment over time and detects trends which can inform energy market and policy development in the long-term interests of consumers. We publish the data from each survey so that stakeholders are able to undertake analysis of the changes that are most of interest to them, concerning outcomes for consumers in electricity and gas markets.

The results for June 2020 shows a continuation of the recent upward trend in energy consumer satisfaction. As the survey was taken in March 2020, in the early phase of COVID-19, we have also produced a supplementary study on the impact of the crisis.

  • Satisfaction with the overall delivery of electricity and gas services is up 8% (to 77%) for household consumers and 12% (to 71%) for small business.
  • All states now rate value for money of their electricity service above 50% for the first time, and the national result on this measure was up 10% (to 57%).
  • While the rise in satisfaction with VFM is positive, electricity still trails the next lowest rated essential service on this measure by 11% (gas and insurance were both at 68%).

Household consumers’ confidence also rose on key measures with proportion feeling the market is working in their interests at its highest level since the survey began – up 5% (to 36%).

  • Looking to the future, consumers are generally more confident that energy market outcomes will improve than in previous surveys, particularly for value for money, reliability, and technological advances.
  • The results were more mixed among jurisdictions for confidence in the availability of tools and information to help them make decisions.

We added new questions to the Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey this year about energy companies’ communications and the results are of concern.

  • There is evidence that consumers have disengaged with their energy provider with most households unable to remember the last information received from their retailer.
  • The proportions who agree that their energy company provides useful information range from 47% in Tasmania and 58% in Victoria (59% for small business).
  • More than a third of households do not think the information they get from their retailer is easy to understand.

The supplementary report, Shock to the System: energy consumers experience of the Covid-19 crisis the numbers also available on this page found:

  • Around half of people (49%) say they have more concern about their ability to pay household bills since the Covid-19 pandemic started with the number rising to 71% for those who have lost work during the crisis.
  • Electricity bills were the top cost of living issue for consumers with 73% rating electricity one of their top-3 concerns, ahead of groceries (56%) and housing costs (50%).
  • 67% of energy decision-makers expect an increase in their electricity bill this year.
  • 20% of energy decision makers say they have already requested financial assistance to pay their electricity bill. Of these half (10%) received help which was useful, and half (10%) did not receive help that was useful.

Full survey results from the ninth survey are available in the report and in the data filesNational Business and National Household trends are also available. The Supplementary Report on COVID-19 is provided in two parts – the quantitative survey results and a qualitative report on consumer discussion groups.

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