Reading Your Electricity Bill

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Energy bill got you stumped? What are all those confusing numbers and unfamiliar terms?

Taking the time to familiarise yourself with the layout of your electricity bill will save you time in the long-term while also keeping you up to speed with your electricity charges.

Familiarising yourself is one thing, but understanding the details is another… Which is why we’re here to help you decipher each little bit of your bill.

Key Points
  • Peak and controlled load charges apply to ‘time of use’ tariffs only.
  • Occasionally, you may receive a credit to your account, which will be clearly stated on your bill.
  • Certain states provide usage statistics, allowing you to compare your energy usage with other households.

The Front Page of Your Bill

Let’s starts with the front page. Note that bill layouts will vary between suppliers and states, but most often, they will follow a structure along these lines:

  1. Account summary
  2. Payment details
  3. Payment slip
  4. Supplier contact details
  5. In some states, usage statistics will be provided

Let’s have a look at these sections in some more detail.

Account Summary

You will usually see an account summary on the front page of your bill. This summary should include:

  • Your account number
  • The total amount due
  • The due date for your payment
  • Any amounts overdue
  • Your current energy plan
  • And any benefits that may be applied to your account
Payment Details

Here you will find a summary of your payment. It will include the issue date, the total amount due, when your payment needs to be made by, your previous payment and current charges.

Under ‘usage’ or ‘supply charges’ you will see how much energy you have used in a given period. 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.

Payment Slip

You should be able to find a section of your bill called a ‘payment slip’ or something similar. In this section, you will usually find the following:

  • Your customer number
  • The due date of your current payment
  • An amount due if you pay by a certain date. For example, you may be offered a discount of $20 if you pay by the specified date
Supplier Contact Details

Your suppliers contact details should be available on your bill, and can generally be spotted on the front page. Contact details are displayed for general enquiries as well as faults & emergencies.

Payment details may also be included here and/or on the back of your bill.

Some States Provide Usage Statistics

Energy suppliers in the following states will include a table or chart that compares your electricity usage with other homes of a similar size:

  • ACT
  • NSW
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania

Usage statistics not only allow you to compare your energy usage with others, but may also be useful in monitoring your own electricity usage over time.

In some states, energy suppliers may also include information on greenhouse gas emissions. Keep an eye out for these statistics should you be interested.

The Back Page of Your Bill

The back page of your bill will include:

  • Usage and supply details
  • Payment options
Usage and Supply Details

Shoulder rates? Peak and controlled load charges? Controlled load? That’s a mouthful.

The breakdown of your electricity charges can look overwhelming, but when you understand the lingo, it’s far from complicated.

The following terms are commonly found in electricity bills, but may not be easily understood by everyone. We’ve paired each term with a simple explanation on what it could mean for you.

Payment Options

On the back page of your bill, you will probably also find a section displaying your payment options. These usually include:

  • Direct debit
  • Credit card
  • Mail
  • BPAY
  • Post Billpay

Note that if you decide to pay for your charges using a credit card, you may incur a 1% GST payment processing fee. If this fee applies, it should be clearly stated on your bill.

Actual and Estimated Meter Readings

Have you ever received an ‘estimated meter reading’ on your bill and wondered what exactly that was?

When you receive your electricity bill, you will notice either an actual reading (indicated with an ‘A’ or ‘actual’) or an estimated reading (indicated by an ‘E or ‘estimated”). Estimated readings occur when your meter was unable to be read.

This usually happens because the meter reader was unable to access the relevant data. Otherwise, the exact reading will be recorded on your bill.

Note that if you receive an estimated reading on your bill but wish to identify the actual meter reading, you can physically check your meter for this information. To find out how to read your meter, click here.

Why You Might Receive a Credit to Your Account

Occasionally you may receive a credit to your account. This could be due to a previous over-payment, or if you’re lucky, a promotional discount.

If you generate solar power, you may also receive a credit to your account provided you have participated in a state-sponsored feed-in scheme, such as the solar feed-in scheme.


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