A recent survey found that the Australian public trust power companies less than they trust media companies, banks and telcos. The same study found that 85 per cent of consumers wish their energy providers would recommend ways of reducing costs based on their personal energy use, and 88 per cent of those surveyed want to be sent alerts by their energy company when usage data suggests a faulty home appliance. While we all wish our energy company was this helpful and transparent, they aren’t, and the only way of understanding your energy usage is by reading your power bill.
“First of all, what you see on your energy bill varies depending on your retailer,” says Jessie Csaplar, iSelect spokeswoman. “The average bill can include confusing jargon that might have your head spinning. It’s important to note that energy itself is difficult to understand so you really can’t be expected to know it all.”
“Taking time to understand your bill is the first step to reducing your bills,” says Jessie. “The second step is acting with the information you have to try to reduce your consumption.”
“If you’re still struggling with your bill then it might be time to compare your plan to others in the market, try using a service such as iSelect.”
We’ve broken down the most important parts of your energy bill below:
- Average daily usage: This is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) for electricity and megajoules (MJ) for gas. To get an idea of how much electricity your household uses your bill should have information on your daily and total usage for the billing period, and how this compares to previous periods.
- Greenhouse gas emissions: Some bills have information about greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions from the energy used is usually measured in tonnes and illustrated on some bills by a line or bar graph.
"By understanding your energy bill, you can keep track of exactly where you’re spending your money which can also help to reduce your overall usage," says Jessie.
- Time-of-use tariffs:Retailers can sometimes offer different pricing arrangement for electricity depending on the time of day—this is usually divided into peak, shoulder and off-peak. An interval or smart meter is required to access this type of tariff. Check to see if your retailer offers this option.
- Charges for this bill: The breakdown of the charges in your bill. This includes the type of tariff (e.g. peak or off-peak times), different meter charges, variable and fixed charges, rebates and GST.
- Supply charges: These are daily charges that do not change regardless of how much energy is used by that particular household. Although each retailer can structure their charges differently, many retailers link their daily supply charges to the costs involved in supplying power to your home.
- Usage charges: Relates to usage—the amount of energy consumed by that particular household charged per kWh or MJ.
- Renewable energy (GreenPower): Additional charges for households that have signed up to support electricity to come from renewables such as solar, wind or biomass. You pay extra for GreenPower.
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