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How to read your electricity bill

Does it feel like you need to be a mathematician to understand how to read your electricity bill?

At Nectr, we prefer to spend our free time relaxing than having to work out overly complex electricity bill charges. If you do too, here’s everything you need to know in under 2 minutes. Learn which tariff you are on, why you are on it, your rates and what you need to do to reduce your energy costs.

What does an electricity bill consist of, and why does it matter?

Your electricity bill includes some crucial information that you might not have looked at before. Firstly, aside from your address (and this is known in the industry as your ‘supply address’), it will also list your NMI number (National Meter Identifier).  The NMI is a unique number that your energy distribution company and energy supplier use to identify your supply address and meter. It should also tell you which Electricity Distribution Network that you are connected to (i.e. who is managing the poles, lines and power supply in your suburb – and who you would call for faults and emergencies). In NSW, there are three – Ausgrid, Essential and Endeavour.

This information is usually located on the first page of the bill, this is where it is on the Nectr bill:

The most important sections of your bill that you need to understand if you want to lower rates are generally detailed on the second or third page. They consist of four main sections: the amount of energy you use (units measured in kWh), how many days are included in that billing period and the rate/s you are charged per kWh and per day.

The daily supply charge is a set fee that covers the cost of being connected to the grid. Your energy usage charge is calculated separate to this fee.

The amount of energy (in kWh) you use alongside the rate per kWh lead to the variable charges that you have control over. It’s important to understand this section of the bill so that you can analyse how you use your energy and how you potentially could reduce the cost of your bill. There’s an example of what this looks like further in the blog.

The due date for your next quarterly meter read will be noted on all basic/digital meter bills. We welcome and encourage you to check you are being charged correctly by completing a self-meter read and comparing it to the usage on your bill. At Nectr, you can use your mobile phone to take a photo of your meter register and submit this online and we will immediately send you a revised bill.

You can learn how to do a self-meter read by reading our FAQs as there are certain terms and conditions to submitting this correctly.

Which energy tariff are you on?

There are typically three main types of tariffs that your energy supplier will offer you – time of use, single rate or transitional time of use.

To determine your tariff turn to page 2 or 3 of the bill and you should see your rates. For time of use, you will see 2-3 different rates for different times in the day you use; generally these are called peak, shoulder and off peak. It should look something like this:

Account breakdown

By reading the above table, you can see the peak consumption rate is 44c/ kWh, shoulder is 22c/ kWh and off-peak is 14.08c/ kWh. The hours for a time of use plan should be outlined in your welcome pack and vary depending on the time of year (e.g. summer, winter and other times).

For transitional time of use tariffs, the bill will look similar to regular time of use tariffs. You will see the split on page 2 or 3 with charges being, peak, off-peak and shoulder charges but the rates will typically be consistent across the different time periods.

The single rate tariff will have the same rate no matter what time of day you use energy. Here’s an example of what a Nectr single rate bill looks like:

How can you save money on your energy bill?

If you are on a single rate or transitional time of use tariff, you can focus on reducing your overall energy usage across a day, week or month to see savings. This may mean being more mindful of how often you use your major appliance such as clothes dryers, changing your lightbulbs to more energy saving ones (or even turning lights off in a room once you leave) or minimising the time you use your air conditioner. Any total reduction in your average daily energy usage will make a difference come bill time.

If you are on a time of use tariff, knowing when you are using the majority of your energy can help you make a decision on when to use your power-hungry appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine, fans, air conditioner and clothes dryer. You can read more about how to save money on a time of use tariff in our blog “What is a “time of use” tariff?”.

That was a quick overview of the tariffs, rates and bill structure. If you found this blog handy join our Instagram and Facebook community and get effective energy saving life-hacks directly in your feed.