utCompare User Manual

There are quite a few apps out there that can tell you what the most cost effective electricity retailers in terms of their rate and discount comparisons are, but not many (if any) can give an accurate account in terms of what you actually take from and send to the grid at your own premises. I have attempted to rectify this by introducing an electricity retailer app with a special focus on solar systems that allows you to compare your current retailer’s actual costs (or credits) with the new electricity retailer’s costs by using your current retailer’s bill data in the calculations. This produces a cost/credit difference between your current retailer and the new retailer, which can determine whether you are better (or worse) off with your current electricity retailer. As a result, I’ve created pages with forms where you can enter all of the relevant information from your electricity bill(s), including the rates and discounts offered by the new electricity retailer(s).

For more information on electricity retailer rates and charges, visit the vic.gov website, Compare.

All of the entered information is stored on your local browser environment using the latest technology in indexedDB database storage. It means that the information saved can be retrieved at any time on the same browser, even if the device has been powered down.

How to use the app:

This is done by entering your current retailer’s rates and discounts into the ‘Current offer’ form and adding all of the new retailer’s usage, service charges, and discounts as displayed on their websites to the ‘New offer’ form. On the ‘Data’ page, you load your actual electricity usage information as shown on your collection of electricity bills over the payment periods. Pressing the ‘Comp’ button takes you to the ‘Compare’ form that shows all of the comparisons made with your current retailer to all of the new retailers previously entered on the ‘New retailer’ form.

The ‘Comp’ page consists of outcomes from the calculations to determine the final costs of all the new retailers and your current electricity retailer to produce a cost difference. Summarizing all of these differences for each new retailer over every billing period gives a total cost difference that can be used to make comparisons with your current retailer. As such, we can now arrange the new retailers in order from best to worst when compared with your current retailer.

Fig 1. Current electricity retailer form

Use of the app in detail:

1. Enter your current retailer’s information into the appropriate fields on the ‘Current offer’ form (Fig 1):

Then press ‘Save this retailer’ button to save this information to your local database. Now press ‘New’.

To enable basic editing, click on the ‘Edit’ box to open up the editing options.

The ‘Delete this dB’ is used to delete the Object Store database your browser uses for this app. However, this can also be done directly via the Device Inspect app (F12) on the browser. The name of the current dB being used is displayed as the last entry under the ‘Current Retailer Info:’ table. Be aware, though, that if the dB is deleted, then all the entered data will be lost, and when the app is run again, a new but empty dB is created.

To save all the data entered from the forms, you can use the ‘Save this dB’ button. At the ‘Save local dB to filename’ field, enter a valid filename (the default is example.txt), then press the button.

Fig 2. New retailer form

2. On the ‘New offer’ form (Fig 2), enter the information for all of the electricity retailers you want to compare your current retailer with:
Press ‘Save Retailer’ button to store the information, then press ‘Data’.

Fig 3. The Data form

3. On the ‘Bill Data’ form (Fig 3), you need to include all of the electricity data used as shown on your monthly or quarterly electricity bill. You can add any number of billing periods, with a minimum of one. Typically, a form could contain the billing period name, over how many days, the prime usage in kWh, and, if you have solar, the amount of electricity sent to the grid in kWh. Next press ‘Comp’.

Fig 4. The Compare form

4. The ‘Compare’ form (Fig 4) displays all of the comparisons between your current retailer and the new retailers entered at step 2. Most notably, under the headers of “Best Solar” and “Best No Solar”, are the cost differences between new retailers and your current retailer listed in order from highest to lowest.

The solar to no solar ratio represents one of the safest retailers (best solar with the best no solar combination) you would consider if you want to safe-guard your system in case it should go offline for any length of time (eg, for repairs or faulty) necessitating the use of grid power over the duration.
The ‘Filter Data’ and ‘Filter Retailer’ fields allow you to view only the names that are listed in the fields separated by a space or comma. Hit ‘Search..’ to activate.

The ‘Remove Current’ checkbox, when checked, removes your current retailer entries from the list and chart. Hit ‘Search..’ to activate.

Below the form you will see (in Fig 5) the comparison outcomes of all the new retailers (entered at step 2) over the billing periods entered at step 3.

Fig 5. Cost outcomes when comparing the current retailer with a new retailer

Where:

  • Blue indicates the credit amounts as a result of the to-the-grid energy from your solar system being greater than what was taken from the grid.
  • Green means the new retailer’s result is better than your current retailer’s result (a positive difference).
  • Black shows the new retailer’s result is worse than the current retailer’s result (a negative difference).
  • Yellow indicates a zero balance or no difference between the current and new retailer.
  • Diff is the difference between the two retailer outcomes for both Solar and No Solar over each billing period, where green indicates the new retailer has a better outcome than the current retailer.
  • % shows the difference between the two retailers as a percentage.
  • Totals: is the sum of the values for each retailer over all the billing periods entered using the ‘Bill Data’ form (Fig 3).
  • FiT is the retailer’s feed in tariff in $/kWh.
  • Grid is the solar kWh amount sent “>xxxx” to the Grid and the kWh amount received “<yyyy” from the Grid by the current retailer over the billing periods entered.
  • SolCredits is the total of the solar kWhs sent to the Grid by both your current and the new retailer over the billing periods entered.
  • Diff is the difference between the totals of the two retailers over all the billing periods entered, where green shows the new retailer as having a better outcome than the current retailer.

 

The chart below (Fig 6) shows the solar cost totals of all the selected retailers.

Fig. 6. Chart of retailer solar cost totals

 

Go to the app here.


 

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