Gas and electricity bills can be difficult to interpret, as much of the language is unfamiliar. To better understand your energy and gas consumption, we have created a comprehensive breakdown of a standard gas or electricity bill – read on to discover what goes into the cost of electricity in Australia?

Decoding your energy bills

Have you been billed correctly

Here are a number of terms you might find on your utility bills.


On electricity bills, the meter identifier is referred to as the National Meter Identifier (NMI), while on a gas bill it is called a Meter Installation Registration Number (MIRN). It represents a unique identifier to the supply address of a particular property.

2. Billing period

Also known as the ‘supply period,’ the billing period is the period covered by the current energy bill.

3. Average usage per day

This refers to the average electricity or gas consumption measured in kWh (electricity) or MJ (gas) per day over the last billing period.

4. Usage graph

This graph illustrates your electricity/gas consumption in comparison to the last billing period.

5.  Read type

This can refer to two terms—actual read (‘a), which is the exact reading recorded for your electricity or gas consumption on your meter and estimated read (‘e’), which is the approximate reading based on average use. An estimated read is applied if your meter is not accessible by a technician.

NOTE: According to law, the actual read must be done once every 12 months. If an estimate read has been done for a particular billing cycle, adjustments will be made when your billing company are able to get the actual read.

6. Billing days

Billing days refers to the number of days covered by the bill. If you are billed quarterly, this will usually be around 91 days.

7. Consumption

Consumption refers to the energy consumed based on the meter read. For electricity bills, it indicates the total number of electricity units (kWh) used per meter. For gas bills, it records the total number of gas units in MJ.

8. Tariff

A tariff is the amount you pay per kWh for electricity and per MJ for gas. It usually varies depending on seasonal rates. Usage charges depend on how much energy you consume; however, service charge is a fixed rate.

9. Additional fees

You might come across additional fees and charges on your electricity or gas bill. These fees may include:

  • Service or network charges
  • Security deposit
  • Cancellation fees
  • Late payment fees
  • Disconnection penalties
  • Reconnection fees
  • Special meter reading charges
  • Credit card processing fees
  • Paper bill fees

What increases your energy bills?

There are several reasons why your energy bill may have increased since your last payment:

  • Increased consumption
  • Incorrect tariff charges
  • Fees, charges or penalties
  • Previous unpaid amounts
  • Incorrect meter reading

Have you been billed correctly by your energy provider?

If you feel that your energy bill is unusually high, there are steps you can take to verify the validity of these charges. Any of the following can explain an increase:

  • If your meter could not be read, you may have received an estimate based off of your previous consumption habits
  • Unpaid charges owed from your last bill are added to your current bill
  • Energy prices may have increased since your last bill
  • A change of season can fluctuate energy consumption; for example, in winter you may increase your heating or your air conditioning in summer
  • Consider whether you have spent an increased amount of time at your home or if you have had additional visitors over, as this can increase energy consumption
  • A new purchase of an appliance that uses gas or electricity
  • If you are eligible for an energy bill concession, check that it has been applied to your energy bill, this can often be overlooked when you change providers
  • On the rare occasion, a meter can be faulty
  • You may have poor insulation, which means that appliances use more electricity or gas to heat or cool your home


ALSO READ: Compare Electricity Plans


If you are looking for advice on how to find the best energy provider for your home or business, check out Electricity Wizard. We can connect you with leading energy providers in NSW, Brisbane, Melbourne, QLD, Victoria, and many other parts of Australia. We provide comparison services to help you find the right provider and save money on electricity and gas bills.


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