How to read your energy bill in 3 easy steps
There are three simple steps to understand and benchmark the electricity and gas used in your home:
1. Understand the units used to measure ‘a volume’ of energy
To understand your bills you need to understand how energy is measured and consequently shown on your bills. There are two different energy terms that you will see on your bills. Firstly, you will see the kWh or Kilo-watt per hour which is used to measure electricity. For example, a Tesla home battery can hold 13.5kWh per day. Secondly, you will see MJ or megajoule, which is used to measure gas. For instance, a 4 star rated gas hot water heater will use approx 65 MJ per day.
1 kWh of Electricity
For electricity consumed the measuring unit is
400 MJ of Gas (four hundred mega-joules)
For gas consumed the measuring unit is MJ (mega-joule)
2. Look at your electricity bill
In this paragraph, I will tell you how to look at your bill so you can compare how you use energy over the year and its seasons. The best gauge is your average daily consumption (ADC) of kWh or MJ. For instance, this is on my bill, with a little graph or house next to it. Also, the graph shows me how my usage changes over the year, this is an example of seasonality. So if you live in an area with cold weather in the winter, the winter energy consumption can be double or triple when you compare it next to your summer bill.
Usually, a 3-person family find that their summer electricity usage (ADC) is around 10-15 kWh/day. Likewise, they find that their summer gas usage (ADC) is 30-60 MJ/day. Therefore if your billing is above the average, you should consider looking at ways to be more energy-efficient.
The above example is for a medium-sized house. It is assumed there is no swimming pool. It is also assumed that they have well-managed air-conditioning, and no rooftop solar.
3. Compare both summer and winter bills with a statistical average
You should check your winter bills against your summer bills as seasonality can play a part in your energy consumption.
When I check my seasonal usage, I like to compare it against a statistical average. I can find this on my bill by looking for the word “usage summary” or “compare with homes”. Sometimes there is a graph or little house. If I see these words, I know that this is where I can see how I compare to my state average usage.
A great resource for seeing how your bills compare to your suburbs average is the Energy Made Easy website’s benchmark tool. Visit energymadeeasy.gov.au/benchmark to obtain the average household usage. You will get a comparison for your electricity and/or gas bill based on similar household sizes in your area.
The Energy Made Easy is an Australian Government website that is managed by the Australian Energy Regulator.
Below I have a snapshot of a typical 3 person household in the inner-city suburb of Parkville in Victoria.
The snapshot tells me that the average kWh per day in Summer is 13.1kWh and 17.6kWh in Winter.
When I compare this typical average against the usage on my two bills I can see that the Summer usage of 13.38kWh per day is fairly standard. By the same token, the Winter usage of 16.63 kWh is similarly standard when compared to the suburb’s average.
Remember to look at the average daily usage when comparing bills. Rates can change, but the way energy is measured will always stay the same.
When you have your summer and winter bill, note which season is higher. This provides a good starting point to look at seasonal appliances you may use that contribute to the change in usage.
What can you do if you are struggling to understand your bill?
If you are struggling to understand your bill, YESS can help you. If you don’t know why your usage is so high, YESS can help you.
YESS can help you identify either behaviours or appliances in your household that are contributing to energy usage that is higher than you want it to be or can handle.
With this in mind, South Australian’s who qualify can have a FREE Home Energy Assessment under the REES Scheme. To find out more about this service go here.
If you live in Victoria or South Australia we can provide a nationally accredited scorecard Home Energy Assessment, which starts at $300. To find out more about this service go here.
In any event, if you are experiencing difficulty in paying your electricity or gas bill you should talk to your energy retailer about your situation. Under the National Energy Retail Law, your energy retailer must assist customers that are having payment difficulties. For these reasons, you should start this conversation and see what assistance you may qualify for.
Updated on 11 February 2020
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