Energy bills, help and rebates

Understanding bills

The information on your energy bills can help you:

To understand how your bills change, compare your current bills with previous ones (preferably over the last year). Pay attention to:

  • daily energy consumption
  • changes in consumption patterns between billing periods and seasons
  • meter readings and if they are estimated or actual readings
  • how much you are charged per unit of energy.

If you don’t have copies of past bills, contact your retailer and ask them to send you copies of up to the last two years’ worth of bills.

Many energy retailers have online examples of their energy bills to help you interpret your own. If you can’t find one on your retailer’s website, contact them for assistance.

See Understanding meters for more information about the meters at your home, how to read them and using meter readings to calculate your energy costs.

You can also calculate your appliance running costs to understand how they affect energy consumption on your bills.

Electricity bills

This bill is an example of what to look for. Your bill may look different and contain different information, eg if you have a solar PV system, your bill will also have information about the kilowatt-hours (kWh) exported.

  1. Average usage per day
    Measured in kWh over the last billing period.
  2. Usage graph
    The pattern of electricity used at the property compared to previous billing periods, allowing comparison across billing periods and seasons.
  3. NMI – national meter identifier
    The unique meter serial number for the property’s address.
  4. Billing period
    This area shows the billing period for the current bill.
  5. Read type
    Retailers can estimate how much electricity has been used and bill accordingly. This may be noted by ‘e’ or ‘estimate’. By law, retailers must do an actual read no less than once every 12 months, which may be noted by ‘a’ or ‘actual’.
  6. Meter readings
    Many homes have more than one electricity meter, for example, one for peak and the other for off-peak. Refer to the meter number when checking the related reading. A digital meter can record peak and off-peak so may show on the bill as the same meter number twice.
  7. Billing days
    The number of days this bill covers. If you are billed quarterly, this will be around 91 days.
  8. Consumption
    The total number of electricity units (kWh) used per meter.
  9. Tariff
    The prices (per kWh) paid for electricity in different periods, eg summer rate, non-summer rate and off-peak rate. The unchanged rate normally refers to a rate that does not change in summer. In this example, it is controlled load, or off-peak.
  10. Total due
    Amount of money owed for electricity supply and usage charges for the billing period and any other charges, eg unpaid amounts from a previous bill.

Off-peak electricity

'Off-peak' or 'controlled load' tariffs are only available for certain appliances. Power is supplied during night-time hours, when overall demand on the electricity network is lower, at times determined by SA Power Networks.

Appliances that can be run on an ‘off-peak’ or ‘controlled load’ tariff include:

  • permanently installed storage water heaters with a capacity of 125L or more
  • underfloor (slab) heating
  • some swimming pool and spa heaters.

If your home has a dial or clock face electricity meter, you may have two meters – one for peak and one for off-peak – and you will have two different meter numbers and readings on your bill.

If your home has a digital electricity meter, it can record both peak and off-peak usage. You will see two charges on your bill for peak and off-peak, but only one meter number.

Find out more about Understanding meters.

Contact your retailer to find out when your off-peak hours are and to confirm what appliances can be connected to the off-peak meter.

Gas bills

This bill is an example of what to look for. Your bill may look different and contain different information.

  1. Average usage per day
    Measured in megajoules (MJ) over the last billing period and compared to the same period last year.
  2. Usage graph
    This graph shows the pattern of gas used at the property compared with previous billing periods, allowing comparison across billing periods and seasons.
  3. MIRN – meter installation reference number
    The unique meter serial number for the property’s address.
  4. Billing period
    This area shows the billing period for the current bill.
  5. Read type
    Retailers can estimate how much gas has been used and bill accordingly (noted by ‘e’ or ‘estimate’). By law, retailers must do an actual reading (noted by ‘a’ or ‘actual’) no less than once every 12 months.
  6. Billing days
    The number of days this bill covers. For households that are billed quarterly, this will be around 91 days.
  7. Pressure/conversion/correction factor and heating value
    Gas meters measure in units of volume (m3 or ft3) rather than units of energy (MJ). To convert the volume used to energy used, the volume used is multiplied by the pressure factor and the heating value. These factors are determined by the gas distributor and averaged out over the billing period.
  8. Consumption
    The total number of gas units used in MJ.
  9. Tariff
    Prices (per MJ) paid for gas. Usage charges will change depending on how much gas is used. Service charge is fixed.
  10. Total due
    Amount owed for service and usage charges for the billing period. May also include unpaid amounts from previous bills.

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Page last updated 11 May 2017

Provided by:
Department of the Premier and Cabinet
URL:
http://www.sa.gov.au/topics/energy-and-environment/energy-bills/understanding-bills
Last Updated:
11/05/17
Printed on:
18/08/17
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016