Understand your electricity and gas bill
Knowing what costs make up your energy bills can help you save.
How do I read my electricity bill?
Electricity bills vary depending upon the retailer. Look for the detailed charges section, which is usually found on the back of the bill. Here you can find the usage summary of kWh and how many cents you are paying per kWh.
If you are on a time-of-use or off-peak tariff you will find two tariff rates here.
Rates vary between retailers. Keep your rate in mind when you compare other retail offers.
If you're having trouble finding your average kWh usage, call your electricity retailer for help.
Show me a sample electricity bill
There will most likely be a 'Usage' heading. Underneath this heading there will be an 'average use for the billing period' figure in kWh.
There may be a heading that reads 'Total for this bill'. This total relates to the total amount of kWh you have used during that billing period.
Otherwise, to calculate your quarterly usage, multiply your average usage per day by the number of days in your billing period. For example, if your daily average is 5.93 kWh, multiply that by the number of days billed for that quarter (91 days), so 5.93 x 91 = 540 kWh.
Remember that some quarters are usually more expensive than others, for example the middle of summer or the middle of winter.
What do the terms on my bill mean?
Here are some common terms used on most bills:
- Average cost per day: This is how much you pay each day on average for energy for this billing period.
- Average daily usage: This is how much energy you use each day on average. It is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) for electricity and megajoules (MJ) for gas.
- kWh: Electricity energy consumption is measured in kilowatt hours. A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 watts of electrical power. For example, if you run a 1000 watt heater for one hour, it will use 1 kWh.
- MJ: Gas energy consumption is measured in megajoules. A megajoule (MJ) is a measure of gas equal to one million joules.
- Charge/kWh: Electricity usage is priced in cents per kilowatt hour, for example, 22.56 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh). So if you use 20 kWh each day, it would cost $4.51 each day.
- Peak and off-peak: If you choose a flexible pricing or time-of-use electricity plan, there will be different charges for peak and off-peak use.
- Service to Property: A fixed charge that is also called the 'daily supply charge'.
What are my options for tariffs?
The three common types of tariffs offered by electricity retailers are:
- Flat rate: This is the most common type. The same rate is charged for electricity consumed at any time of the day or night.
- Time-of-use: This is where a different price is charged according to when the electricity is used during the day. Time-of-use tariffs usually involve peak and off-peak pricing, which means users are charged less for electricity during 'off-peak' or low demand periods and a higher rate for electricity used during high demand or 'peak' hours. You may not be eligible for time-of-use offers – check with your retailer.
- Flexible pricing: This is an extended 'time-of-use' tariff, with peak, shoulder and off-peak rates. New flexible pricing plans have some consumer-protections associated with them, unlike the older and still available 'time-of-use' plans.