Understand your bill
Your electricity and gas bills contain information about energy use. Pricing structures can be confusing and it is often difficult for customers to understand their bills.
Electricity and gas bills
Each bill differs according to your provider but they should all have similar details.
Your bill is a combination of two charges: usage and service.
- Electricity usage is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Your bill will include total usage and how much the electricity cost per kWh.
- Gas is measured in megajoules per hour (MJ). Your bill will include total usage and how much it costs.
Your power provider gets these numbers by reading the meter on your property. If you have a smart electricity meter your provider will get the information remotely.
Bills will often display in a graph your average daily electricity usage and costs over the past year. They sometimes include a figure on how many kWh you were using at the same time last year. This helps you compare how much electricity your business has used over time.
For households, electricity retailers are required by law to provide a graph or table of your usage compared to similar sized households in your area.
The service charge is a fixed delivery cost, which is the amount your energy provider pays to run their business. They will calculate how many days they provided electricity or gas, and the cost per day.
What else to look for
Time of use, pricing and tariffs
A tariff is the rate your business pays to use electricity and gas at specific times. There are many different and emerging tariff types to be on the lookout for.
There are usually three different types of tariffs:
- Single or flat rate – you are charged the same rate day or night.
- Time of use – pay different prices for different periods. These include peak (usually evenings Monday to Friday), off-peak (weekends and overnight Monday to Friday) and shoulder (between peak and off peak).
- Controlled load – tariff applied to large, high-power-usage appliances metered separately to the rest of the energy use in your premises. It is most often used for hot water systems, but you may be able to connect other high-use appliances like underfloor heating or pool pumps, depending on your power network and metering. The cost of power for this dedicated circuit will be cheaper than your other rates, however electricity is supplied to the circuit for only a limited number of hours each day.
Next meter read
Your bill will also tell you when your next meter reading will take place.
If your power provider was unable to access your meter, your bill may be based on an estimate of use. This should be clearly marked on the bill.