Understanding price colours + tips on load shifting

Prices are at the heart of the Amber model and app. They’re a key part of how Amber helps Aussies unlock the benefits of cheap and abundant renewable energy and drive more demand for renewables.

By empowering you with access to wholesale electricity prices (generated by the Australian Energy Market Operator) - both current and forecast - our goal is to help you make informed energy usage choices that reduce your bills and your carbon footprint.

That’s because prices in the app can be a great indicator of the amount of renewable energy in the grid.

  • When prices are cheaper, it’s a safe bet that this is a time when there’s either a high proportion of renewables in the grid, or low demand (or both!).  
  • When prices are higher, it’s likely that the grid is under strain due to high demand and fossil fuel generators are primarily supplying your power.

The more of us shift our energy usage to greener, cheaper times (“load shifting”), the faster and more smoothly we can shift Australia to 100% renewable energy - while driving down energy bills along the way.

Keep in mind: price forecasts are just that - forecasts. A high forecast does not always result in actual higher prices. However, the best way to stay on top of your bill and carbon footprint is to remain conscious of these prices and price forecasts as you make decisions about when to use certain appliances in your home.

Our price colours and how to adjust your energy usage appropriately

Super cheap!

How to interpret this colour

It doesn’t get cheaper than this. Prices are crazy cheap right now. You’re not paying electricity generators anything for the electricity you use, you’re only paying network costs (the cost of getting the electricity to you).

When you’ll see this colour

Wholesale prices are negative for a flat tariff. If you're on a time of use tariff or a demand tariff, then you'll see this colour when your price is less than the price on a flat tariff when Spot price < 0 c/kWh).

(Spot price* < 0c/kWh)

Making the most of these times

Go greener, save heaps and support the grid by shifting more usage to these times - you could even get paid to use power! This is basically a free for all and a great time to do all the things.


How to interpret this colour

This is one of the best possible times to use energy. Prices are still cheap as, even though they’re no longer in negative territory.

When you’ll see this colour

Prices are less than the DMO (default market offer) in your region. (Total price per kWh under DMO/VDO).

Making the most of these times

Do more energy intensive activities now and you could really shift the needle. You’ll be driving demand for renewables and making the most of some of the lowest prices out there.  

About normal

How to interpret this colour

Keep calm and carry on - prices are about normal. Nothing to write home about here but certainly a better time to use energy than when prices are red - both because green energy is more likely to be in the grid and because there’s less strain on the grid too.

When you’ll see this colour

Prices are within 10c/kWh of DMO

(Total price < DMO/VDO + 10c/kWh)

Making the most of these times

Let’s call it ‘mellow yellow’. This is a reasonable, business-as-usual time to use your more energy hungry appliances, without having any major impact on your bill - but as always, going greener never hurts.

A bit expensive

How to interpret this colour

Prices are a bit exxy right now. If you’re feeling flexible, this is a great time to gain an edge by doing some strategic shifting.

When you’ll see this colour

Total price < DMO/VDO + 20c/kWh and total price >= DMO/VDO + 10c/kWh.

Making the most of these times

Get shifty - cut down usage at these times if you’re looking to go that extra mile. If you use appliances now you’ll be paying a little more, so if running them is optional you might want to avoid it if you’re keen to make an impact.


How to interpret this colour

Prices are straight up expensive right now. This is an important time to dial down your usage of energy hungry appliances if you want to keep your bills down and limit your support for fossil fuel generators.

When you’ll see this colour

Wholesale prices are up to but less than $3/kWh.

(Spot price* < 300c/kWh and total price > DMO/VDO + 20c/kWh)

Making the most of these times

Shifting usage away from these times is important. Consider your usage of air con, electric heaters, electric stove tops or ovens, pool pumps, water heaters, washing machines and dishwashers. In the long run, shifting away from these times this will make a big impact on your bill, your carbon footprint and the reliability of our electricity grid.

Really expensive and spiking!

How to interpret this colour

The wholesale electricity price is forecast to spike at this time. Price spikes are a huge opportunity to make an environmental impact - coal and gas generators make a large share of their profits each year during these high priced periods. Cutting down your usage not only means less fossil fuel power used but also more of your money kept out of the pockets of coal and gas generators.

When you’ll see this colour

Wholesale prices are more than $3/kWh.

(Spot price* >= 300c/kWh)

Making the most of these times

Look, if there was ever a time to shift - it’s  right now. Switching off energy hungry devices at these times is a small move that can make a big impact. Shift your use of your air con, electric heater, electric stove top or oven, pool pump, water heater, washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer and the climate and your wallet will thank you for it.

Don’t shift (these appliances)

Even during a price spike you don’t have to worry about switching off the following appliances/devices - they simply don’t use enough electricity to make the effort worthwhile, either in terms of the green impact or money which could be saved.

  • Lights
  • Your laptop / desktop computer, tablet (charging)
  • TVs, gaming consoles, stereo
  • Electric fans
  • Smart phone (charging)
  • Fridge

Want to know more about how much each of these devices cost to run? Check out our detailed guide here.

Got any questions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us on info@amber.com.au.

*Spot price = the wholesale price of electricity generated by the Australian Energy Market Operator. This is the direct price we pay the electricity generators for their energy.

Amber’s total price consists of the wholesale/spot price, network fees and other costs.