Most Expensive AGL Power Bill EVER, Whilst Holidaying Overseas!

Hi All,

I'm DONE with AGL, but I need your expert advice. I've just got back from a 6 week trip to Europe, and my QLD (Brisbane) energy provider AGL has sent me virtually my highest 3-monthly bill ever, but I think coincidentally they raised prices for this bill. Anyway, the house was vacant, other than our long-term quiet old lady tenant staying in our small flat downstairs. I suspect our hot water system might be wired up to the PEAK meter, instead of the Tariff 33 Controlled Load meter, and has been for 10 years. But when I put it to AGL to check it for me, they say no and tell me to hire an electrician to check. I guess that's fair, yes? But it's a cost I can't afford. Anyway, how does one go about auditing your bill and switching to a much lower rate, or to a different provider? We're a small family of 4, and I'm sick to death of paying 800 bucks every quarter when I skulk around the house turning off every light whenever I see one left on, like a decrepit, penny-pinching old badger. It makes no difference, seemingly.

Any advice greatly appreciated. I'm super keen to flick AGL for anyone cheaper.


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  • +13

    Has your usage jumped? Or just the price / kilowatt?

    • -1

      Just the $/kwh.. No usage changes.

      • -1

        Says you… but what do the kwh usage figures on the BILL say!?

      • +2

        Smells like you had a "33% off your bill" contract that's expired - combine that with a usage "estimate" rather than actual usage and you get a huge bill.

        One reason I went with Momentum - little bit more expensive but ultimately very similar in overall price as I always forgot when my "offer" kept expiring.

  • +6


    • Origin has a plan that gives 21% off your bill (including supply charge). Beats alinta by just a bit.

      • How do you get this plan? Doesn’t appear on their website?

        • Yes, its not on their website. I moved into a place recently and signed up with Alinta. I later find out the hot water system is gas powered so I called up origin on the second day. Origin asked me about my electricity supplier and offered 21% off the entire bill to beat Alintas offer.

          This is at Brisbane, maybe give them a call and see.

        • @Kingfabay: exact same here!

      • Indeed! Here are my dodgy calculations:
        Usage: 1,500 kwh
        Days 92

        Origin usage (excl gst)
        Daily 92 * 1.14190 = $105.06
        All usage: 0.24510 * 1,500 = $367.65
        Total = $472.71
        Add discount (21%) = $373.44

        Alinta (excl gst)
        Daily 92 * 0.99 = $91.08
        All usage: 0.26 * 1,500 = $390
        Total = $481.08
        Less Usage discount (25%) = $292.5
        Total = $383

        • Only thing I can think of that would make Alinta the more attractive offer is the solar rebate of 11c versus ~7c.

          The 7c rebate figure I got off of Origin's website for the the 'origin maximizer' plan, is it different for the 21% off plan? I can't seem to find it on their website

        • +1

          Your bills are cheap over there. Over here in SA, Alinta's daily supply charge is 106.898c and their usage rates go as high as 53.284c/kwh.

        • @DangerNoodle: What is the best plan in SA? I live in a house with AGL and while I was away a housemate didn't opt-out of a smart meter getting installed.

          I smell a rat with the power plant closure last year, there was no cooling off period (if they mothballed the refinery for a decade why can't this be done with a power station) and re-opening it has NEVER been mentioned, only rebuilding another power plant. Speaking of mothballed they spend a few million a week keeping the $1.8b desal plant on standby.

        • +2

          @Cleremy: I've compared a lot of plans and origin with 16% ends up being the cheapest out of most based on rates.

          Agl and simply have similar rates so if they give you a bigger discount then feel free to choose them.

          Energy Australia's rates are too high, you'd need nearly 30% with them to beat origin.

          Alinta's rates are too high. You'd need over 35% with them to beat origin.

          Lumo can be a good contender if you can get a good discount since they discount both supply charge and usage. However, if all you can get is the standard 10% I wouldn't bother as that would mean it would only be cheaper than origin if you use less than 1.5kw per day.

          My last bill with origin was $261 for 104 days. I use LED lights which made the biggest difference. Costs less than 5c per day in lighting. Turning things at the power points won't make a big difference despite what most people say, most devices use less than 1w at idle. But check the seals with your fridge as leaky seals can force your fridge to run at full load. Also space things out evenly in your fridge.

  • +13

    Walter White probably caused a few power bills to go up in his time….

    • Insurance premiums too!

    • In a commercial laundry, a little bit of ‘manufacturing’ on the side would not even impact energy bills enough to be noticed, I would’ve thought?

  • +26

    I'd assume they did bill estimation, that is they didnt check the meter.

    Look for estimate or soemthing similar on the bill.

    Go outside and check your meter against what it actually says, and guess backwards what it would have been when the bill was struct

    • Retailers don't do meter reads, the distributors arrange them. If the OP's meter is old school (not a smart meter),he should submit his own read, which they will use to adjust if the last read was an estimate.

    • As far as I know, AGL doesn't do estimates. At least at my place, they don't do estimates, they just don't bill you for usage.

  • +3

    They should be able to provide you with a report showing your daily usage.
    I did this when i thought my bill was wrong, turns out i had a few $50 days running the aircon that i lined up with 40C days. The aircon didnt get turned on again after that lol

    • +3

      Wow! You must have a lot of split systems. $50 in one day is like 3 split systems running for 18 hours.

      • It was 1 split system and yep ran all day/night. It was a really old system too so probably explains it but i was still in shock at the bill

  • +4

    yeah, like Baghern said to save money they only check the meter every so often and just guess your usage the rest of the time.

    regarding you turning off lights, don't bother, they use basically no power, the big guys are your heating and cooling devices (heaters, dryers, fridges, air con) also computers and some tvs can eat up a bit.

    • +1

      Or pool filter.

    • I don't know what it's like outside SA but AFAIK here a third party reads the meters. Estimates will only be made if the meter is inaccessible.

      • +1

        we have that here in Sydney too, the problem is that the definition of 'inaccessible' changes depending on the phase of the moon, the time of day, the laziness of the contractor etc etc etc.

        I've seen the meter reader walk to the front of my block, have a quick look at the house, then keep walking - no surprise that the next bill was an estimate.

  • +16

    That old nanny have been cranking the heater over the winter.

    • +11

      Or running a hydro hemp farm in the flat.

      Edit Damn it, someone beat me to it.

      • +17

        Or she got into bitcoin mining and bought a bunch of GPUs/Antminers

        • +15

          Why not both?

          This old lady sounds awesome.

      • Oh yeah - she's been running the hemp hydro for ages on a grand scale, but the higher bill only kicked in this quarter - odd.

        • +2

          Has she increased production, perhaps? Has she purchased the neighbouring buildings and turned them into hydro farms - and routed the electricity from your place?

          Either way, she's suspicious AF.

        • @Munki: But she seems so lovely..

        • +1


          Maybe partying hard every night in your abscence

        • +1

          @CandyMan: She does go hard at those begonias..

  • +1

    We also had ours increase but only vacant for a few days. More than $500 more than average. Also AGL.

  • -3
  • +17

    That old lady growing hydroponic pot is my bet.

    • Definitely this.

    • +9

      Mining crypto currencies probably. Have you checked to see if she has a large collection of GPUs?

  • +1

    other than our long-term quiet old lady tenant staying in our small flat downstairs.

    Is she by chance running a meth lab ?

    • +1

      Well, she does get a lot of late night visitors..

      • +7

        That might mean … something else…

  • +27

    How about simply checking your daily usage from the meter? Perhaps the fridge, heater, hot water system or your tennant went nuts. Lights on/off will make no noticeable difference to the bill.. especially if they are CFL or LED.

    And get the facts right please:
    - the house was NOT vacant
    - the family is NOT small
    - being not able to afford the bill is not equal to the bill being high

    • -23

      Thank you. You must be fun at parties.

      • +9

        and you must be the guy who catches a fish this big……..

  • +3

    This person had a similiar issue with Energex. Issues with ENERGEX and AGL re: Tariff 33 Hot Water

    They never got back with the outcome though.

    • +1

      Lol so he has a crappy HWS or a an incorrectly wired one and has known for ages??? Electrician call out would pay for itself in one bill

  • +1

    We moved 4.5 years ago because our bill went from $160-180 to $420…AGL had decided to turn the Smart meter on, it had been 'normal' for 10 years…we went from 11c/kWh all day any hour to 42c/kWh peak and 13c/kWh off peak….our usage remained similar, but just plain OTT once the Smart meter extracted their grab….we were ready to move anyway, but AGL made our decision easy.

    • +2

      So did your new provider not use the smart meter?

      • Highly doubt if the new provider would have ditched the meter. Anyway @driver33b would be able to clarify this.

        • Our new abode is still with AGL…we moved from New home build (10 years occupancy) to an older well established area…no Smart meters here, never will be 😀

        • @driver33b: lucky you 😉

        • +1

          @driver33b: > no Smart meters here, never will be 😀

          Never is a long time. The meters will eventually be replaced…

    • @driver33b - Wow.. so you physically moved out of one home address and into an entirely different suburb just to escape the AGL smart meter? Amazing! Sadly, there was a meter guy around at my house last month (Energex or AGL guy, not sure) specifically to check my meters and to advise me they were putting smart meters through the area. Do I get a choice.. can I say I don't want it??

      • +4

        Change supplier asap.

      • As far as I know, you can call the retailer and ask for flat rate billing even on a smart meter. The only thing smart meters do is collect usage data every 15 minutes. Old (cumulative) meters are just like your car's odometer…they have a start and end figure, and that gives your cumulative total kWh usage. With a smart meter, your retailer should be able to bill the cumulative total at the flat rate rather than peak/off peak/shoulder. As others have said, changing retailers won't make a huge difference to your bill. They simply use the distributor's usage data to calculate a bill for you, and add a small margin for themselves.

  • +36

    Maybe it was an estimate based on the previous usage?

    ….So you can do a 6 week Europe trip but can't afford to hire an electrician to check the hot water system's wiring!!

    • +7

      Maybe thats why he cant afford an electrician, most people live beyond their means.

    • +15

      Yes, that's correct. Free donated airfare points and family accommodation overseas. Was only asking for electrical advice.. thanks.

  • +4

    +1 to likely an estimated meter reading rather than actual usage.

  • +1

    Get them to check the meter reading.

    What did you leave on while away? Best check with the tenant if their usage changed.

    There is a vacant house near us that has had a light running 24/7 for weeks.

  • +1

    Check the meter, I got stung once when the needles didn't line up properly, hard to describe but it is like clock hands, the minute hand was behind so the meter thought it went from like 11.59 to 12.59 (increasing by a full hour hand amount instead of one minute hand amount).

  • +3

    "they say no and tell me to hire an electrician to check. I guess that's fair, yes? But it's a cost I can't afford"

    But you can afford a 6 week holiday to Europe?

    Now you are bitching about a power bill?

    • +2

      Again.. did I ask for personal attacks, or just some electrical advice? Don't make presumptions.. like I'm doing right now.

  • +2

    Turn the ac off at meter box
    Change all lights for LEDs
    Get gas instantaneous hws
    Get smart powerboards for kids appliances and turn them off
    Get solar panels on finance

    • Great.. thanks mate. Solar panels on finance?

      • Depending on your location, solar doesn't help much in winter.

    • +1

      Yeah have a shop around there is some pretty good deals going

  • +1

    Consider moving back to a single rate plan rather than flexible/peak/off-peak pricing (assuming the maths works out for your household).
    Check your meter readings vs bill to see if they match (or close enough). Start recording your usage every 3 months and compare with your future bills.

  • +4

    Likely scenario: a person reading meter could not gain access to your meter (locked gate, etc.), and the bill you got for usage is extrapolated from previous periods (standard practice, it is somewhere in "terms"). If so, your next bill is likely to be the lowest 3-monthly bill ever.

    Yes, the electricity provides can not check how hot water system is wired, it needs to be an licensed electrician hired by you.

    PS for the benefit of people saying "you can afford a 6 week holiday to Europe?" - in some places in Europe cost of living is drastically lower than in Australia — and for cheap flights keep checking OzBargain ;‑)

    • +3

      Thanks Occam.. very helpful. Yep, Europe was a fraction of our costs here, and it was free for me to get there and stay, otherwise we would never have been close to going. Cheers for the advice.

  • +3

    There was an article in the guardian about agl grossly over charging customers because they estimated instead of actually checking. I can't seem to find it though

    • Brill, thanks mate, I'll Google search for it!

      • Looks like it wasn't the guardian, but SMH also this at the Australian

        • So cool, thanks mate. Very interesting read..!

    • …except its not AGL. Its Energex who owns the meters

      • And its AGL who customers pay and communicate withand who fail to fix the problem or actively makes it worse.

        • No retailer has any influence on distributors…how can they make it better or worse?

        • @zeggie: customer service. If you read that article I linked, poor customer service made the situations far worse than they needed to be.

  • +2

    Wouldn't you have a Smart Meter, those controversial things introduced several years back? If so, I thought those things have wireless reporting, so someone doesn't come onto the property anymore.

  • +5

    As of July 1st electricity pricing went up 30%

    • +2

      Yes, I just found that out on the phone to them.. Ta for confirming.

  • +5

    Your anger is mis-direct. Whilst your RSP is AGL, in SE Queensland the distributor is Ergon who own the powerlines, the meters and do the meter reading. All AGL do is the invoicing and front line customer service. If you were to change RSPs your issues would be unchanged. To find out if your hot water is on off-peak just to compare two itemised bills for the T33 meter. The only two things on this circuit could be hot water and swimming pool pump.
    I agree with the other suggestions about power saving initiatives. We replaced all lights with LED, replaced glass (when we renovated ) with energy efficient glass and installed solar panels. Our electricity bill went from $850 per quarter to $320. We dont hesitate to use our airconditioning for heating and cooling and we heat our pool water in spring and summer

    The Alinta deal is cheaper than AGL but not by a significant amount. I find the fixed charges (which go to Ergon) to be the killer because Ergon are a Government owned monopoly and they just go up year after year.

    • Brilliant, thanks JHMT.

    • Energex. Not Ergon.

  • +1

    Hey mate - did you check the meter was based on actual reading?

    I just came back from holiday - family was away 6 weeks and had the same shock on gas bill. Showed usage had gone up 1.5x.

    Called them and understood they based on estimate as meter reader cudnt get in and had no basis for 1.5x.
    Sent them pic of meter reading and bill dropped to 30% which made sense as we were not their half the time of billing period.

    • That's a fab idea.. Cheers mate, I'll def check it today asap.

  • +1

    Best to check if its an ESTIMATE or actual reading first before jumping to conclusions. It will say ESTIMATE on the bill if that is the case and will be based on your most recent usage. The next time they read the meter this will be adjusted.

    By the way, AGL is just your retailer. They dont read the meters. This information is provided to them. They just send you the bill.

    PS Did you check the meter yourself and compare with thier last reading or estimate on the bill?????? Let us know

    • Brill, thanks mate, just got that sugg from another helpful commenter.. will look at it today, I hope anyway.

  • +4

    Heres the easiest way to save money, switch providers.

    1. Find one that gives you a good discount even if the company sounds a bit fishy. (ie sumopower)
    2. Sign up with them
    3. AGL should call you in a few days/weeks asking what the problem was and offer a discount matching/better (usually after asking) if
      you stay with them.
    4. Agree to stay with AGL with the discount
    5. ????
    6. Profit

    Basically energy providers give 0 shits about current customers only ones leaving and/or new ones. So you have to shop around, just make sure the energy kw/h arent ridiculously different.

    I have 44% off my electric bill from AGL following this method (provided I pay on time).

    • +1

      That's a fantastic idea mate.. superb - thanks a lot. Our bill is about $800 a quarter. I have no idea, but that sounds bloody high to me for 2 adults and 2 kids.

    • +1

      i also did the same and got 32% off discount from click energy but I still decided to jump ship.

  • +1

    They want you to do their work for them. Your bill includes money to send out a meter reader, but to save money they want you to call up and complain and send them an actual meter reading.

    • Haha.. brilliant! No wonder they make a fortune!

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