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Understanding your electricity bill

The first thing we look at when opening an electricity bill is the amount owing - but there is much more information in your bill.

From meter numbers to average daily usage or whether your last meter read was estimated, your bill contains this information and more.

Our guide helps you to find what you are looking for and provides an explanation of what each component means.

If you have any concerns over something on your bill, or if you need further help understanding it, you should contact your electricity retailer.

What is your bill telling you?

Many people have trouble understanding their electricity bills, or where to find specific information.

Some of the things you will find on your bill are:

  • Payments you have made since your previous bill.
  • Any amounts still outstanding, as well as new charges for the current period.
  • The billing period for the current bill.
  • Your average daily usage in units and dollars.
  • Your meter number(s) and the previous and current readings taken from the meter(s).

Have you asked your retailer?

Many retailers have a section on their website where they explain their bills. They are also able to explain the details over the phone.

SA Government Understand energy bills.
AGL Your bill explained.
Alinta Energy A guide to your energy bill.
Diamond Energy Make a payment.
EnergyAustralia Understanding your bill.
Lumo Understanding your bill.
Momentum Energy Understanding your invoice.
Origin Energy Understanding your bill.
Red Energy Understanding your bill.
Simply Energy How to read your bill.

What should you check for on each bill?

  • If you receive concessions, check that they have been applied.
  • If there are any amounts outstanding from previous bills.
  • If there are any messages from your retailer relating to changes to your bill (i.e. rate increases, offers of monthly billing).

Breakdown of your bill

Keeping in mind that bills vary from retailer to retailer, you will find most of the following information on your electricity bill (also, note that retailers may use slightly different wording).

You will usually find the following on the front page of your bill:

  1. Issue date: The date that the bill was generated by the retailer.
  2. Account number and/or customer number: This is your account number. You should quote this any time you call your electricity retailer.
  3. Your name and postal address: The postal address may differ from the supply/service address (i.e. Post office box).
  4. Due date: The last day by which you must pay your bill.
  5. Billing period: The range of dates the bill covers (e.g. 1 January 2015 – 1 March 2015).
  6. Opening balance: The amount that was owed, or in credit, when the previous bill was issued.
  7. Payments received: The amount you have paid since the previous bill.
  8. Balance carried forward: The difference between the opening balance and the payments received. If you did not pay your last bill in full by the due date, a balance may be carried forward and added to your new charges. It is possible that you may have a credit carried forward.
  9. New charges/current charges: The new charges for the billing period covered by this bill.
  10. Discounts or credits: Any discounts that are applied to your account in accordance with your plan, such as pay-on-time discounts or solar credits.
  11. Total amount due: The total amount that you currently owe. This may be split into two amounts if your plan has a pay-on-time discount (with and without discounts if paid by due date).

The following items are commonly found on the second or third page of your bill, although some elements may appear on the first page.

  1. Electricity usage calculation table: This table is likely to include the following information:
    1. Service address/supply address: The address the retailer is billing you for (may vary from the postal address).
    2. Next scheduled read: The date that your meter will next be read (may be two days either side of this date).
    3. Last meter read: The last date that your meter was read (this will be the end date of the billing period).
    4. NMI (National Meter Identifier): The numerical identifier used by the industry to identify your property.
    5. Tariff: Indicates either peak/off-peak or may be your plan name.
    6. Meter number: The numerical identifier used to identify the meter(s) being billed for.
    7. Bill days: The number of days in the billing period.
    8. Previous read: The read taken from your meter at the end of the last period/start of this period.
    9. Current read: The read taken from your meter at the end of the billing period (which will become the previous read on your next bill).
    10. Actual (A)/ Estimated (E)/ Substituted (S) / Final Substitution (F): Indicates the type of meter read carried out and is located near the previous and current meter reads.
    11. Total kWh usage: Your total consumption, in kilowatt-hours, for the billing period.
    12. Unit price/rate: The amount you are charged per kilowatt-hour.
    13. Supply charge/service charge: A charge applied for the supply of electricity to the property. It covers the costs involved in the transmission and distribution of electricity, including maintenance of the network infrastructure.
    14. Solar generation (may be called PV generation, export, Feed-in): If you have a solar system installed on your property, the number of solar generated units of electricity exported to the grid, and the dollar value of these units is indicated here.
    15. SA Government concession: The amount of any government concessions applied.
  2. Usage/greenhouse emissions graph: Shows your past usage and emissions together with a breakdown of:
    1. Average daily usage: The total number of kilowatt-hours consumed in the billing period divided by the number of days of the billing period.
    2. Same time last year: Your average daily usage from the same period last year.
    3. Average daily cost: The dollar value of your average daily consumption.
    4. Total greenhouse gas emissions: Total amount of greenhouse gas emissions for the billing period of this bill.

Are you concerned about your bill?

If you feel that there is an issue with your current bill, you should first take the time to thoroughly read it, compare it to previous bills (especially the bill from the same time last year), and write down the issues that you wish to raise with your retailer.

If you have a clear understanding of the bill and the issue, you will be better equipped to ask the right questions when you speak with your retailer.

Links and further information