Origin Energy rolls out new power usage tech as heat mounts over electricity prices

By Kelly Emmerton ·

As electricity providers face scrutiny over spiking power bills, energy retailer Origin has announced plans to trial new technology that will allow households to track which of their home appliances are sucking up the most power.

The new tech, which will be trialled with 5,000 customers in Victoria, works by tracking the unique signature of appliances and matching it up to environmental factors such as temperature, to determine an appliance’s energy use.

Customers can use the system to get an overall view of the major power usage hotspots in their home, and will be able to monitor usage and receive updates via a smartphone app.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Origin chief executive Frank Calabria said the new technology "...has got great promise to give greater insight to our customers. We want people to help understand where their energy is going... we are really trying to help people get that greater insight.”

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According to Abhay Gupta, chief executive of Bidgely, energy retailers are looking for an edge over the competition as the energy market in Australia heats up.

"The pressure to keep customers happy and retain their loyalty is paramount,” he said.

But most Aussie are anything but happy with their electricity bills, after the July 1 price hikes saw average quarterly energy costs increase by up to 34.48% in some cases.

And while enabling households to monitor and reduce their power usage is certainly helpful, recent Mozo research found that there were much bigger savings on offer for the 13% of Aussies who would be willing to switch providers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also taken notice of rising energy prices, and has summoned the Australian Energy Council and seven of the largest electricity retailers - including Origin - to a meeting this Wednesday.

Although the meeting will be a chance for Turnbull to grill energy retailers about recent price changes, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said in an interview with ABC radio that he was hoping government legislation would not be necessary to rein in skyrocketing energy bills.

“...in the first instance the prime minister wants to eyeball the retailers and to tell them that we all need to do better to ensure particularly vulnerable households … get the best possible deals,” he said.

The ACCC is also set to release a report on competition in the Australian energy market this September. But Frydenberg said better transparency on power prices is needed now, and that the government can’t delay acting until the ACCC report is released.

Feeling the sting of high energy prices? Don’t wait around for the politicians or the energy companies to fix things - head over to our energy comparison tool today and find out if you could switch to a better value plan.

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