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How to read your energy bill

What to look for on your bill and where to find it.

Apart from telling you what you owe, energy bills provide a lot of information about how you use your power. These details can help you cut down on your energy usage and how much you're paying. They can also help you decide if switching to a different plan will actually save you money or not. This guide will take you through what to look for on your bill and where to find it.

Keep it simple and look out for these terms on your energy bill

Every power bill is laid out differently on paper, but there's a few terms that are critical to know, depending on what you are trying to do.

I want to...

Calculate bill

Work out how much power I'm using

Be sure to understand:

Kilowatt hour

  • What is it: A unit of energy, usually shortened to kWh.
  • Use this to measure your usage. Your electricity bill will tally up the power you use in kilowatt hours e.g. 1,000 kWh. Note: Gas is measured in MegaJoules (MJ).

How to find it on your bill

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See if I'm on a good deal

Be sure to understand:

Usage rate

  • What is it: The rate you're charged for electricity use per kWh e.g. 30 cents per kWh.
  • Use this to assess if your plan is expensive to use e.g. compare your rate to other plans on the market.

How to find it on your bill

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Switch to a new energy provider

Be sure to understand:

National Metering Identifier (NMI)

  • What is it: Your National Metering Identifier, or the unique 10 or 11-digit number used to identify your connection to the power network.
  • Use this to switch plans when you find a new provider.

How to find it on your bill

Other terms to understand

  • Tariff. The method by which you're charged for energy.
  • Single rate tariff. A single rate tariff charges you the same for all your use, regardless of when you use it.
  • Time of use tariff. An alternate tariff where usage costs depend on the time of day that you use your energy. This is split into peak, off-peak and sometimes shoulder periods.

How to read your energy bill

How your energy bill looks will vary depending on the brand you use. We've linked specific brand guides in the section above. However, as a general guide, we took a sample bill from AGL and broke down each section.

First page

What to check

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

Where to find it

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1. Basic information
This is your address, name, plan and other details necessary for your retailer to identify you. Keep this information handy if you're contacting your retailer online or over the phone.

2. Amount due
This is usually shown at the top of your bill. In addition to the total amount, there may be a smaller total listed if there's a pay-on-time discount applied.

3. Due date
This is when payment must be received by for any pay-on-time discounts to apply.

4. Total usage and average daily usage
This will help you compare your usage to other energy plans.

For electricity, your usage is shown in kilowatts per hour (kWh).

For gas, it's shown in megajoules (MJ) for the entire billing period.

How to use this information

  • See how your usage compares to other households in your area to give you an idea of how much power you're consuming.
  • See your average daily usage for the same billing period 12 months ago.
  • Use your total usage to quickly compare prices from other brands based on your usage

Second page

What to check

Where to find it

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5. Electricity supply details
This includes information about your electricity provision, including your address, your energy plan and your meter's unique identification number (NMI = National Meter Identifier). It also has your actual usage listed in kWh.

Gas meters have a Meter Identification Reference Number (MIRN) that serves the same purpose as the NMI.

How to use this information

  • Use your NMI/MIRN if you need to switch plans later on.
  • Use the name of your plan when comparing it to others online.

6. Usage breakdown
This is a detailed breakdown of how you've been charged. It will split your total charge into the supply charge that you must pay for simply being connected to the grid and your actual usage costs.

Your usage rates may be further split into peak and off-peak rates if you're on a time of use tariff, or just peak rates if you're on a flat rate. Discounts are also listed here.

How to use this information

  • Use your usage amounts to get a cost estimate based on your usage when comparing plans.
  • Use your usage rates to compare the rates of other plans.

7. Payment options
This is a list of options for how you can pay your bill. It may include options such as direct debit, mail, BPAY, PayPal and cheque.

Enter your usage to compare your bill to other plans on the market.

Bill guides for different energy brands

How can I use my bill to save on energy?

  • Compare rates. With your actual usage in front of you, you can compare your current plan to others to see how much you could save. You can either compare your rates directly to other plans online or use our bill comparison tool to help you.
  • Consider tariffs. If you're on a single rate plan but realise that most of your energy usage takes place in the morning or early afternoon, it might be worth considering switching to a time of use tariff. This charges more during peak times like the afternoon and evening but less at other times. For a detailed explanation of electricity tariffs, read our guide here.
  • Examine your usage patterns to save money. If your energy is spiking on particular days, think about why that's happening. Maybe you're running the air conditioner or using extra hot water. Ways to save may include investing in more energy-efficient appliances or switching to a controlled load tariff for your hot water heater.

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