How to read your electricity bill


At first glance, your electricity bill may contain unfamiliar terminology and a jumble of confusing numbers. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the layout of your bill so you can stay up to speed with your electricity charges.

The layout of your electricity bill will depend on your supplier, but most bills contain the following sections:

Account Summary

There is usually an account snapshot on the first page of your bill. This includes your account number, current invoice due date, and total amount payable. The dates of the billing period are usually identified in this section, as well as any overdue amounts. You may also see the name of your tariff in this section of the bill, which tells you which plan you are on.

Breakdown of Electricity Charges

To see how your energy provider calculated your usage charges, refer to the ‘charges’ section of the bill. This section tends to be divided into energy usage and energy charges.

Usage shows you how much energy you used. Your current meter reading is subtracted from the previous reading to arrive at the amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) used in the billing period. This information is then used to calculate your charges. If your usage is based on an estimated reading (usually because the meter reader was unable to access your meter) then you will see an ‘E’ next to the usage. If it is an actual reading, you may see an ‘A’ or the word ‘actual’ next to the usage.

Your charges are listed according to type, such as peak, off-peak, or shoulder rates. These rate types may be further divided into rate blocks. For example:

Peak – first 400 kWh charged at $0.3100 per kWh = $124
Peak – next 400 kWh charged at $0.3200 per kWh = $128

Further down the list you should see a tally of total electricity charges excluding GST, followed by a total including GST.

Occasionally you may receive a credit to your account. This may be due to a previous overpayment, participation in a state-sponsored feed-in scheme, or promotional discounts. Your total bill will take into account all debits, credits, and GST.

Payment Details

Your bill will include information about how to make payment. If your supplier offers a discount for early payment, it will be listed on your bill. Follow the instructions for your preferred payment method in order to pay your electricity bill.

There are a range of payment options available to you, which usually include:

  • Direct Debit
  • BPAY
  • Credit Card (this payment method may incur a fee, which should be clearly stated)
  • Mail

Electricity Usage Statistics

Usage statistics are useful to monitor your electricity usage over time. Energy suppliers in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania will include a comparison chart on your bill, which allows you to see how your usage matches up to that of similar households in your area.

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