The cost for operating and maintaining the electricity network that supplies power to your home is just one of the charges on your bill.

While we’re doing all we can to keep these charges low, there are also things you can do to manage both how much you pay and how much electricity you use. This will help to control your energy bills.

We’ve pulled together helpful information and tips so that you can save time and money by finding everything that you need to know in one place.

How to read your bill

By understanding how much you spend on a monthly and annual basis, you can compare other retailers and make sure you are on the best plan for your home.There are two types of charges found on these bills.

Supply charge

This is a fixed, daily rate and includes the United Energy distribution costs to operating, maintaining and managing the network of poles, wires, and smart meters that deliver electricity to your home.Our supply charges are fully regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator and set annually. On average they account for about 30% of your total electricity costs.

Variable charges

These are based on the amount of electricity you consume in your home. They can change based on the season, whether or not you have solar, and how energy efficient your appliances are.The variable charges are set by your retailer and based on the type of energy plan you are on as well as when and how you use electricity. This is where you can have the most impact on reducing your bill.As a distribution network, our role is to manage the smart meter that measures the amount of electricity you use in your home. Almost all of our customers have smart meters which send us data about their electricity supply every day. We then provide this information to the energy retailers. So the bills you receive are for the actual amount of electricity you have used, not an estimate.The energy retailer then prepares your electricity bill based on the energy plan you’ve signed up to.

More detailed information on how to read your bill is available through the Australian Energy Foundation and Australian Energy Regulator here.Resources:
• Australian Energy Foundation
• Victorian Energy Compare
• Victorian Energy Saver
• Consumer Affairs VIC
Find the best energy plan for your home

If you are moving addresses or just want to make sure you are paying the right amount, you can compare energy plans offered by different electricity retailers.

Victorian residents can ask retailers for a Victorian Default Offer. This is a maximum flat rate set by the Essential Services Commission as a fair electricity deal for people who are unable or unwilling to engage in the retail energy market.The default offer will not necessarily be the lowest price available to you. So you can use it to compare against energy plans offered by energy retailers.It is good to shop around to make sure you are getting the best electricity offer for your home.Victorian Energy Compare is an independent, government website that uses information you provide about both your household and your energy bills to help find the best energy offers for you. All you need is a recent bill with your National Meter Identifier (NMI) See image below for where you can find your NMI on your bill. Then visit the Victorian Government’s Energy Compare site to find the best energy offer for you.

Choose the right tariff

You’ll see a reference to different tariffs on your electricity bill. A tariff is the cost for each unit of energy you use measured in kilowatts (kw). Most households are on a single (or flat) rate or time-of-use tariff for their variable charges. The peak pricing periods will generally be from 7am to 11pm daily and off-peak is for electricity used overnight.

When you are discussing your energy plan with your retailer, you have a choice about which type of tariff or pricing structure would suit your home and lifestyle.

  • Single rate tariffs: work well for families that need a low rate all day, everyday.
  • Time-of-use tariffs: there are various options depending on what kind of appliances you use and when. They are great for people who can plan for using their electricity at different times. For example, if you can schedule to use appliances like washing machines or dishwashers during off-peak times. Or if you have a solar PV or electric vehicle charger that means you can use more energy in off peak times.
  • Controlled load tariffs: are usually only for appliances that run overnight or in off-peak times like water heaters or electric vehicle chargers.
  • Demand tariffs: measure how much you use electricity at a point in time, rather than usage over time like a peak demand charge.

Your home’s smart meter that is installed and managed by us, makes it possible for you to access a variety of tariffs.Remember to take a look at your energy retailer’s Basic Plan Information Document for all the terms and conditions.To find out more about which tariff would suit you, see the information available through the Australian Energy Foundation and Australian Energy Regulator here.

How to use less electricity

A great way to manage energy costs is to make sure you are using electricity efficiently in your home. This can help reduce the variable costs on your electricity bill. Home appliances make up about 30% of your energy costs so as a starting point, log on to our myEnergy service to find out when you use the most electricity daily. myEnergy uses information from your smart meter to track electricity use. This will help you to understand what appliances are consuming the most energy: heating, cooling, lighting or even a pool pump. This can then help you plan for using your appliances smarter.

Best ways to save money on power this summer:

  1. Set your air conditioner to around 24 to 26 degrees. Depending on the size of your unit, a one degree change can save 10% on cooling costs.
  2. Turn off appliances at the plug when you’re not using them. Standby power can account for more than 3% of your energy bill.
  3. Keep rooms shaded from the sun and heat with curtains or blinds.\Use dishwashers or washing machines in the morning or at off-peak times in the evening.
  4. Air dry laundry rather than use clothes dryers

Air conditioning

This is usually one of the largest users of electricity in your home. The reality is, the harder your air conditioner has to work to heat or cool your home, the more it will cost to run. By simply changing the settings by a few degrees, you can make a big difference to energy costs.In winter, set the heating for around 19 degrees and in summer, cool the home to around 26 degrees. Your home will still be comfortable in the seasonal extremes but you’ll save running costs on your electricity bill. Depending on the size of your unit, a one degree change can generate up to a 10% reduction in heating and cooling costs.For more tips visit Sustainability Victoria to make sure that you are getting the most out of your air conditioning systems.

Sealing and insulation

If your home is draughty or poorly insulated, your air conditioner will have to work hard to achieve and hold the temperature you’ve set.Finding and eliminating draughts in your home is another easy way to save on electricity bills. By weather stripping gaps and cracks in windows, doors, and vents, you can minimise cold air in winter and hot air in summer leaking in. The Australian Energy Foundation has put together helpful tips on how to identify and minimise draughts in your home.

Efficient Appliances

Energy rating label Energy Rating labels are found on appliances like televisions, computers, dishwashers, washing machines, fridges, freezers and dryers. These will help you compare different models based on how much energy the appliance will consume in a year and a star rating for efficiency.So the purchase price should not be your only measure in making decision on which appliance to buy. When possible, choose appliances that suit your needs and are the most energy efficient. This will help you save electricity and money over the life of the appliance.Also make sure:

  • You buy the appliance that is the right size for your home and has the features you need. You don’t want to pay for an air conditioner that is too big and powerful for the room or technology you do not need.
  • Appliances are positioned and installed correctly for best performance. For example, putting the fridge next to the oven in your home will make the cooling system work harder.
  • Appliances are well maintained so they keep working efficiently.

For further information about choosing energy efficient appliances, visit the Australian Government’s energy rating website.

Lighting

We’re progressively changing all old street lights to LED lights to help communities save money. By doing the same thing in your home, you can save around 16% on annual lighting costs.LED and compact fluorescent lights are not only more efficient but also have good light quality and instant start up-times. Through Victorian Energy Upgrades, you can get an accredited installer to upgrade the lighting in your home for free.

How you use electricity

Changing simple habits can save money.Easy ideas like turning off lights when you leave a room, keeping the oven door closed while cooking, air drying washing where possible, will all help reduce electricity consumption.For more energy saving tips, visit the Australian Energy Foundation.