How to Read Your Electricity Bill A Guide to Your Electricity Bill

Your electricity bill has arrived! Do you:

  • Give it a cursory scan and pay it
  • Read it carefully, ensuring that the charges are correct, and pay it
  • Sigh and toss it in a pile for later

In an ideal world, we’d all choose option 2, but as it stands, plenty of people are choosing options 1 and 3. Electricity bills can be confusing: there’s a whole lot of information in there, but it doesn’t always make sense at first glance.

Understanding how to read your electricity bill does matter, because it helps you understand how your household uses electricity. Knowing how you use electricity and how you are charged for it is the first step in reducing your energy costs.

In this guide, we’ll go through a sample energy bill and show you how to read it. Not all bills look the same, but most of them will have similar components.

Sample Electricity Bill
Electricity Bill
  • Jane Power
  • 678 Lullaby Lane
  • Sydney NSW 2000
Australian Electric
  • Enquiries: Enquiries: 131 987
  • Faults and emergencies: 131 200
  • Customer number: 85858585
  • Account number: 0129876
  • Supply address: 678 Lullaby Lane Sydney NSW 2000
  • Issue date: 1 Oct 2018
  • Due Date: 23 Oct 2018
  • Amount due if paid after due date: $555.26
  • Supply address: 678 Lullaby Lane Sydney NSW 2000
  • Amount including discount if paid by due date: $527.50
Billing summary
PLAN SuperSaver
Opening Balance $476
Payment received thank you 15 Jul 2018 Direct Debit $476 Credit
Balance carried forward $0.00
Current charges (incl. GST) $555.26
Total amount due $555.26
5% pay on time discount (ex. GST) $25.24 Credit
Total amount due with discount (incl. GST)     $527.50
1. Electricity Retailer Contact Details

This section tells you who your retailer is and how to contact them.

2. Your account information

Here’s where you’ll find your customer account information, including relevant account numbers. You may need to provide these if you contact your retailer with any queries.

3. Amount Due

This is a quick snapshot of the amount due on your current bill. Most retailers offer a discount for early payment, which will be reflected here along with the due date.

4. Billing Summary

This is a summary of your previous month’s bill, along with the amount paid and the amount owing that may be carried over to this month. This is added to the current amount owing. You may also see a description of your current plan, or tariff.

There may also be a perforated payment slip attached to the bottom of the bill. If you intend to make a physical payment (such as by mail or in person at the post office), you’ll need to tear off the slip and include it with your payment.

Sample Electricity Bill
Electricity usage and charges
  • Billing period: 2 July 2018 – 1 Oct 2018
  • Meter read: Actual read on 1 Oct 2018
  • NMI: an 11-digit number
TARIFF Meter Number Previous reading Current reading Usage (kWh)
SuperSaver Peak an 11-digit number 45984 47112 1128
SuperSaver off Peak an 11-digit number 21398 21954 556
Electricity Charges
Electricity Charges Rate (cents per kWh) Total usage (kWh) Total $
Peak 33.72 1128 380.36
off Peak 22.38 556 124.43
Total Current Charges ex. GST     504.79
Total current charges incl. GST     555.26
Your next meter read is due between 29 Dec 18 and 2 Jan 19. Please ensure easy access to your meter on those days.
Usage Graphs

Paying your bill

5. Electricity Usage and Charges

This section is the main ingredient of your electricity bill. It provides a breakdown of your usage and charges, so you can see how your retailer got the total. This section usually includes the following information:

  • Billing period: Typically a 90-day period of usage covered by the bill.
  • NMI: National Meter Identifier, a 11-digit number that is unique to your meter.
  • Type of meter reading: An actual meter reading means that the reader was able to access and sight your meter. An estimated reading means they were unable to access the meter and had to make an educated guess based on past usage patterns. This will be fixed up in your following meter reading, when your energy supplier is able to access it.
  • Electricity usage: Measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • Electricity charges: The amount you are charged per kWh.

Depending on your plan, or tariff, you may be charged for your usage depending on the time of day when you use it.

  • Peak usage: Most popular times, usually around 2pm – 8pm weekdays. Times are set by the retailer. Peak usage is usually the most expensive time to use electricity.
  • Off-peak usage: Less popular times, also set by the retailer. Off peak charges are usually cheaper than peak charges.

If you have solar power, this section is also where you’ll see the breakdown of kilowatt hours generated by your solar system. Any applicable feed-in tariffs should also appear here.

6. Usage Graphs

These graphs may appear on the front or back page, depending on your bill. They usually depict the following:

  • A comparison chart showing your current usage compared to your usage for the same period in the previous year.
  • Your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A comparison table so you can see how your daily average usage matches up with the national average for your household size.
7. Payment information

All of your payment options should be laid out on the back page, including the specific details you’ll need to make payment. Payment options may include:

  • BPAY
  • Direct Debit
  • Billpay at an Australia Post outlet
  • Over the phone
  • Online
Using Your Electricity Bill to Get Cheaper Electricity

If you’re not happy with your electricity charges, you may be able to do something about it. Keep a copy handy when you compare electricity plans online, so you can see how your current plan stacks up to the others on offer. If you find a plan that charges lower rates for the times that you’re using electricity the most, it could be time to make a switch.

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