Common Terms in Energy Comparison Explained

Common Terms in Energy Comparison Explained

Energy comparison is comparing the differences between numerous energy tariffs offered by energy suppliers. Generally, the end goal is to discover how much money you can save by switching from one energy plan to another or from one energy supplier to another. But you could also switch energy suppliers because of poor customer service from your current energy supplier. If you are considering switching energy suppliers, it is ideal to know the common terms used by energy comparison sites before you take that leap.

Energy Distributor

Energy (gas or electricity) distributors own the gas pipes and power lines that supply energy to houses and businesses. An energy distributor distributes gas or electricity to your household or business. Because energy distributors are different from energy retailers, switching energy retailers after energy comparison does not interrupt the flow of gas and electricity in properties. You can contact your distributor for a variety of reasons: if your power supply stops because of broken gas pipes or destroyed power lines; if you want to ask questions about gas pipes and power lines connected to your property; and similar inquiries. Your gas and/or electricity distributor’s number is on your bill – it is usually under the “Faults and Emergencies” section. 

Energy Retailer/Supplier

An energy retailer is a company that sells gas and/or electricity. Some customers purchase gas and electricity from the same retailer. Energy suppliers cannot sell energy until they have authorization from the Australian Energy Regulator. Once authorized, energy retailers can buy wholesale gas from companies that produce gas and purchase electricity from generators, after which they sell to end-users, i.e., customers. You can contact your energy retailer for electricity and gas-related services such as tariffs, sales, and bills. You can also contact your retailer to get gas or electricity to your property or information about your electricity meter.


Meters are used to measure and record how much gas or electricity is being used at a property. Chances are, if you live in an apartment or have such similar accommodation, you might not have access to your gas or electricity meter. But natural gas retailers and electricity retailers own and read your gas and electricity meters, respectively, so you can contact them for your meter and meter readings. All electricity meters have a unique meter number and a National Meter Identifier (NMI), which you can use to identify your meter. Meter service providers also use this NMI to identify meters. You can find your NMI on the third page of your electricity bill. 

Smart Meters

Smart readers, which are also known as interval meters, record electricity usage in 15 or 30-minute intervals. Smart meters cannot be read manually, as only the meter service provider can download the data stored on the smart reader. With smart meters, smart meter readings are sent directly to the meter service providers daily. 

Energy Tariff

Energy tariff is the amount you pay for gas or electricity. Energy tariffs are sometimes defined by energy retailers who can charge consumers less depending on the time of day or the year’s season. For example, demand tariffs measure how intensely a customer uses electricity at a time, and energy retailers charge tariffs based on that. Different energy suppliers apply demand tariffs in different ways so that a customer may be charged different demand rates in different seasons. Some energy plans split energy use into various blocks. For instance, this means that you can pay a high energy tariff for the first part of your usage, then pay a lower energy tariff for the next part.

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