Whitehorse City Council

Understanding Your Energy Use

Are you having trouble understanding your electricity or gas bill? Tariffs, special charges and fees can be difficult to understand.

In the first instance, check whether your bill has been calculated using an actual or estimated meter read. Most households should now have a smart meter. A smart meter regularly reads your usage and data is automatically sent to your energy retailer. So, estimated reads should not occur. For households without a smart meter, the Energy Retail Code specifies that meters must be read at least once every 12 months. Because some of your bills may be estimates, eventually you only pay for the energy you use. Once your meter is read, your next bill will be adjusted to reflect the actual reading.

Your electricity and gas bills will also display energy tariffs. A tariff is the price of energy under a contract and has two parts: a fixed charge and a variable charge. A fixed charge, or service charge, is the charge for supplying electricity or gas to your premises for each day of your billing period. A variable charge, or consumption charge, is the charge for the amount of energy you have used within the billing cycle.

The next point to consider is the type of tariff that is used for the variable charge component. Many tariffs are available and examples include single rate, block, off peak, time of use and renewable energy tariffs. When choosing a tariff, one of the most important things to consider is whether you use most of your electricity during peak periods (week days and evenings) or off peak (nights and weekends). Energy is generally more expensive during peak periods.

In Victoria, there are many licensed energy retailers. It is important to do your research and choose a retailer and service that suits your needs. When choosing a retailer, consider the supply charge, type of tariff, available discounts, length of contract, available rate freezing options and fees in relation to exiting the contract and method of billing (paper, credit card etc).

There are many simple things you can do to reduce energy use and save money. Many are free while others require some upfront investment but pay for themselves within a short time. For more information, visit Council's Saving Energy page.

For more information on how to understand your electricity or gas bill, visit the Victorian Government’s Switch On website at http://switchon.vic.gov.au/ (information is available in other languages) or phone 136 186.