How to read your energy bill

Energy bills explainedFrom usage charges to supply fees, discounts and rebates, here's what you need to know about your energy bill.

As well as telling you how much you owe and the date you need to pay it by, energy bills give you a lot of information about how you use power and what you pay for it.

These details can be very useful for cutting down on energy usage and costs. They can also help you decide if switching to a different plan or provider will give you a better deal. So if you want to save money on your energy costs, here's how to get the details from your next bill.

Key details to look for on your bill

While there is a lot of information on any electricity or gas bill, the main details to check include:

  • Amount due: This is usually shown at the top of your bill. Usually, there is a total amount and lower, discounted amount that's offered if you pay on or before the bill's due date.
  • Due date: This is the date when payment must be received if you want to get a pay-on-time discount.
  • Average daily usage: You usually need this information to compare other energy plans. For electricity, daily usage is shown in kilowatts per hour (kWh). For gas, it is usually shown in megajoules (MJ) for the entire billing period.
  • Usage comparison details: If you have been with your provider for more than a year, you may see details about your average daily usage for the same billing period 12 months ago. For electricity bills, you can also see how your usage compares to other households in your area.

The main components of your electricity bill

Front

Account summary

This information includes your address, name, plan and any statement numbers necessary for the retailer to identify you and your account. This information might need to be cited to your retailer if you speak with them on the phone.

Payment slip

This is likely the largest and clearest section of your bill. This is how much you owe your retailer, how to pay it, and the payment deadline.

Graphs for usage

This can tell you about your average electricity usage per month (in kilowatt hours (kWh)), how much your electricity cost for each month and how this compares to last year’s usage.

Comparison tables with households in your area

This data is often average-usage data retrieved from the Australian Energy Regulator.

Back
Electricity usage and service calculation

This information tells you the period for which you’ve been charged (the billing period), and when next payment is due. Since this information is key to your bill, it might also be found on the front of the bill.

Near these values might also be information regarding your current contract and set of tariffs. This information is key to learning more about the way you are charged for electricity.

Supply information

This includes information about your electricity provision including your address, your energy plan or contract, your electricity meter’s unique identification number (NMI=National Meter Identifier) that may need to be cited when speaking with your provider, and details about your energy usage at the beginning and end of the period etc.

Payment options

Since receiving payment is the bill's main purpose, options for how to pay including direct debit, mail, BPay, PayPal, cheque etc. may appear on both sides.

Other useful information

This section often provides contact details for further information, including how to change plans and what to do if you are going to move.

The main components of your gas bill

Front

Account summary

This information includes your address, name, plan, and any identifying numbers necessary for the retailer to identify you and your account. This information might need to be cited to your retailer if you speak with them on the phone.

Payment slip

This is likely the largest and clearest section of your bill. This is how much you owe your retailer, how to pay it, and when to pay it by.

Graphs for usage

This can tell you about your average gas usage per month (in megajoules (MJ)), how much your gas cost for each month and how this compares to last year’s usage.

Back

Gas usage and service calculation

This information tells you the period for which you’ve been charged (the billing period), and when the next period ends. Since this information is key to your bill, it might also be found on the front of the bill.

Near these values there may also be information regarding your current contract and set of tariffs. This information is key to learning more about the way you are charged for gas.

Supply information

This includes information about your electricity provision including your address, your Meter Identification Reference Number (MIRN) that might need to be cited when speaking with your provider, your energy plan or contract and details about your energy usage at the beginning and end of the period etc.

Payment options

Since payment is largely the purpose of the bill, it may appear on both sides with payment options including direct debit, mail, BPay, PayPal, cheque etc.

Other useful information

This section often provides contact details for further information, including how to change plans and what to do if you need to move.

What about tariffs?

About a quarter of your flat fees cover the cost of generating your energy. About half of your fees go towards the distribution grid that got the power to your home or business. The final quarter of your fees go towards government initiatives and to the retailers’ admin fees.

You can learn more about tariffs in our guide to energy fees.

A sample electricity bill from AGL.com.au

Front and then back:

alg-electricity-bill-front-page

alg-electricity-bill-back-page

*Source: AGL

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Picture: Shutterstock

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