How to read your bill
Know how much you’re spending and why, so you can make sure you’re with the right retailer and on the right plan for your needs. You’ll see two types of charges on your electricity bills:
This is a fixed, daily rate and includes the United Energy distribution cost to operate, maintain and manage our 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 less than 30% of your total electricity costs.
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. 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.
Download the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy fact sheet for more information about how to read your electricity bills.
Choosing the right tariff
You’ll see a reference to different types of 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 are generally between 3pm and 9pm daily. Lower off-peak pricing has traditionally been for overnight use, but from July 2021 a new time-of-use tariff offers lower prices during the day as well. By using power in these new off-peak times, you’ll be making the most of the renewable energy available in the network.
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. These include:
- Single rate tariffs. These are a good option for families that need an everyday low rate.
- Time-of-use tariff. There are a range of time-of-use options depending on what kind of appliances you use and when. These types of tariffs are great if you can plan to use electricity at specific times – like running your washing machine or dishwasher in off-peak times – or if you have a rooftop solar system or electric vehicle charger.
- Controlled load tariffs. These are designed for appliances that run overnight or in off-peak times like water heaters or electric vehicle chargers.
- Demand tariffs. These tariffs are charged based on your maximum power usage during a specific period in time, rather than your total usage over time.
When considering 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, the Australian Energy Foundation has put together a handy PDF.
Are you paying the right amount?
As a Victorian resident, you can ask an energy retailer for what’s known as a Victorian Default Offer. This is a flat rate maximum set by the Essential Services Commission as a fair electricity deal for those unable or unwilling to engage with the retail energy market.
This default offer will not necessarily be the lowest price available – but you can use it to compare against energy plans offered by energy retailers.
Remember, it’s good to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best offer. The Victorian Government Energy Compare website uses information you provide about your household and energy bills to help you find the best energy provider or plan.
What to consider when choosing a plan
When you’re comparing providers and plans, there are a range of important factors to consider including:
- How long you want to sign up to a contract.
- Any fees the retailer may charge.
- Discounts or special deals the retailer may offer.
- The types of tariffs that suit your electricity use.
- If you prefer electricity generated by renewable energy sources.
- If you have a rooftop solar system and are looking to export electricity to the network.