As the head of Business Development at Solar Analytics, I often use my own system to demonstrate the power of Plan Optimiser because for my house, it was showing me I could save hundreds of dollars a quarter by switching to a more suitable plan.

But the irony was that I hadn’t taken my own advice to save by switching!

I’m human. I’m busy. And I was clearly paying the “lazy tax” by not switching from the provider I’ve been with for years whose prices had steadily crept up over time.

So, I put on my Solar Analytics User hat, and put the tool to the test. During the process, I learned that Plan Optimiser was even better than I had thought, and I discovered new ways that Plan Optimiser could help me that I hadn’t considered until I used it in the real world.

Take the guesswork out of choosing the best electricity plan

I’m arguably a bit more engaged and nerdier about energy than others, and I quickly learned lesson number one: choosing an electricity plan is so complicated!

I’m eligible for 22 different energy deals at my home in Sydney, which Plan Optimiser automatically finds and updates weekly. All the different plans available to me feature different feed-in tariffs, daily charges, peak rates, flat rates...the list is endless and exactly why it’s almost impossible to compare plans, and why people don’t bother switching. Even for me, a self-proclaimed energy nerd!

Look at the variation in my top ten – could you work out which one was best for your home (I’ve blanked out the savings so you can’t cheat!)? I would literally have had to spend hours building a complex spreadsheet, getting my energy data and mashing it all together to have any hope.

Fortunately Plan Optimiser completely automates this horribly complex and time-consuming task and takes the guesswork out of choosing the best energy plan, by clearly ranking the best plans for me and simply breaking down all the details.

Bigger isn’t always better

One of the coolest things about Plan Optimiser is that it uses my real solar and consumption data, and the smarts behind it produce results that can be surprising and even sometimes counterintuitive - it’s smart enough to unravel the complexity unique to every home.

In my case it recommended plans with very low feed-in tariffs, which I initially thought was a bug in the tool. But as a much-smarter-than-me developer at Solar Analytics explained to me when I challenged him on this, “That’s how clever Plan Optimiser is Nige – it outsmarted your intuition that a bigger FiT is always better!” I have a battery, a hot water diverter and an electric vehicle, so I have virtually zero spare energy left for exports. So, in my case the FiT rate is almost irrelevant.

Quite frankly this blew me away because for solar owners, headline FiTs are drilled into us as where all the value is. This demonstrates the hidden power of deeply analysing real data.

And I didn’t have to flex a neuron!

I want to save, but other things matter too

I got solar because I want lower electricity bills, but I also want to make good choices about who I buy my power from and follow my conscience when I choose an energy retailer. Can I trust them? Are they my kind of people?

Plan Optimiser showed a long list of many retailers, many that I hadn’t heard of. So, I spent a few minutes researching a few of my top choices. Several online articles revealed some things I did not expect, and other things I found pleasantly surprising.

For one retailer, I found an article talking about how they were planning to try and set up “clean coal” and “carbon capture” projects to drive down energy prices, which is not the future in my eyes.

For another, I recognised their owners as a reputable company but didn’t know they were now owned by an offshore company – good on them, but a shame it’s not Australian owned anymore. However, they were totally transparent, and their people were easy to find online. There were several stories about their senior staff that were simple and open. This all meant I felt like I could trust them.

So, Plan Optimiser also saved me time by narrowing down the number of companies I needed to spend time researching to make sure I could choose a company I was happy to deal with.

Information equals switching power

solar analytics recommended plan

Now I knew who I wanted to switch to, and which plan to choose to help me save a whopping $189.90 per quarter.

I rang my chosen retailer, and started the conversation by saying “I’ve chosen you and know the specific plan I want”. It’s amazing how this immediately positioned things differently – the sales rep knew I was a very hot prospect but also that I had done my homework. I was an empowered consumer who was not to be trifled with!

After a few questions they offered me a deal they thought would suit me. As he rattled off the different rates, standing charges and feed-in tariffs I was able to follow along with what Plan Optimiser was showing me and I could check he was being honest about the details of the plan.

When you click on your preferred plan in Plan Optimiser it opens a box with all the details of the plan in an easy-to-understand way. This helped me visualise how the plan would fit in with our household behaviour in the real world. This powerful feature actually helped more than expected because it made me more confident in my discussion and negotiation with the retailer and left me assured that they weren’t sneakily shifting me to a bad plan to squeeze extra margin.

Information really is power. Here are a few more tips our team prepared to help you switch plans.

Amplify your solar savings and save time

Like all of you, I love saving with solar and love the thought of amplifying those savings by being on the best plan. As much as I love energy, I actually don’t want to spend my whole life watching an app and messing around with retail tariff switching for one second longer than is necessary.

So, when I do want to engage in it, I want accurate, easy, fast and functional tools that make it easy.

In the three months it took me to get around to switching I’ve wasted almost $200. Now, I just feel hugely relieved.

Now is the time to check Plan Optimiser, especially if your rates have recently increased. If you're not already a Solar Analytics customer you can start comparing plans with our free version here.

What are you waiting for?