Electricity Bill Much Higher than Expected - What Can I Do to Check?

Hi folks, I live alone in a 3 bedroom house, work a full time job, hardly at home. No solar. Uses central air-conditioner only on days above 33-34 degrees and otherwise usual TV, PC etc.
Got latest quarterly electricity bill (with Alinta Energy in SA) for $682! (on Fair Deal 25 so will pay $530 if on time)
Breakdown shows average 14 kWh per day (average single person household is 8kWh).

What can I do to check accuracy or anything else I should be checking/know?

Thanks in advance

Edit 1 : Last year same period was 9.8 kWh. Nothing has changed. Absolutely same living habits. Hot water is on demand gas. So not an issue there.

Edit 2: Some are suggesting for stolen electricity, what's the best way to check for this?


  • +6

    Go check your meter is the same as the bill reading.

    • Yes the reading is correct.
      What I meant is the amount consumed seem excessively high given my circumstances

      • Anyone getting a [remote-reading] Digital Meter
        should insist that it be wired in-line with the
        existing meter(s).

        Yes, I know all meters belong to the power distro
        folks, but why should they Not want you to be able
        to check the new meter?

      • Have you checked for any new
        cables connected to your line
        (eg, installed by folks stealing
        power going thru your meters)?

        • How do I do this?

          • @cktftw: Look around for a power cord you don’t recognise

          • +1

            @cktftw: Turn everything off at the main switch for up to 4 hours ( don't open the fridge doors it should be able to handle 4 hours without power.

            read the meter just after switching off and just before switching back on. There should be no change in the meter reading.

  • Sounds high, I'd also say to check reading as sometimes electricity companies guess previous values (and refund when they get the actual), you sure the initial one was right?

    Otherwise yeah sounds high, usually water heater is the worse along with other heaters/aircons, but I'm surprised by the amount. Then again price seems to be higher in SA, my friends from SA pay quite a lot as well for electricity.

    You can buy electricity meters that will tell you the energy usage, can find whats making up that huge amount. Theres typical stuff like turn off appliance at the wall etc etc, but this seems a bit more then that amount. You can also see if theres any government stuff near you that helps, I know some people get free meters or free power plugs (that turn off automatically) from government to reduce electricity.

  • +5

    14kwW per day average means that for a quarter you would've used 1680kWh (120 days)

    1680 x $0.24/kWh (assumption on cost after discount) = $403.2

    Daily fee is approx $1/day: $403.2 + $120 = $523.20

    So… the charges seem to add up… I guess your question is whether 14kWh/day is unusual. Looking back to my usage in summer last year (before I had solar), we used abut 18kWh/day, and our house is 3 bedroom, poorly insulated, we're barely at home (full time work) and we have central air con as well.

    Poor insulation, inefficient cooling system AND high cost of electricity (compared to other 1st world countries) can contribute to your usage.

    • +3

      A quarter is 3 months, which is around the 90 day mark, not 120 days.
      Having said that, the numbers probably still add up, just that you've underestimated the kWh price I reckon by a good 30-50%

    • Last year same period was 9.8 kWh. Nothing has changed.

      • +3

        So your usage has gone up by 50% despite nothing changing? I'd be checking your appliances one by one to see if there's anything faulty

        • +1

          check your fridge. If the door seals are damaged it will work overtime to stay cool.
          If you can hear the motor running most of the time that could also mean it has problems

  • +13

    I don't know about SA, but in Victoria and with a smart meter you can download usage data in 30 minute intervals for the past 2 years.
    With this info one can determine when the most consumption is taking place and isolate the appliances, etc

    • -1

      I like this!

      …especially, if some1's
      written an app to simplify
      the work of calculating
      the correct bill-amount,
      from all that data.

      They could -also- download
      actual tariff(s) you're on
      or All tariff's, so you or
      the app
      can work which tariff to
      try to pivot to, soon.

      • switchon.vic.gov.au does all that for you

    • +1

      Hi Ocker

      Can you tell me where I can go to download this 30min reading for my smart meter.

      Thanks in advance.

    • +1

      Any idea how I can get this done for my place in NSW?

      Would love to have the ability monitor my energy usage and download it every 30 minutes and essentially have a chart or data of my daily energy usages so I know when somebody has left something on or something.. especially with winter coming one time we tripped the breakers because we had not 1 not 2 not 3 not 4 but 5 heaters and 1 air conditioner going on at the same time.. haha yep and family was just watching TV in one room lol.. this was at my grandparents place lol

    • This sounds most useful. How can I get this?

      • https://www.powercor.com.au/

        Click on the "MY ENERGY" tab, and then "my energy" from the drop down menu.
        You will probably need to register.

    • +2

      In SA I believe most people, unless in a new development are on old meters. We were only upgraded to a new digital meter after we had solar installed.

      We're with Origin Energy and we see our hourly usage and feed-in, albeit a few days behind. Still a massive help to see when our usage peaks and troughs are. Or a gut punch when we see we spent $30 in a day on aircon…

      Energy retailers aren't going to provide much help in this, they're getting the readings and everything is correct on their end. I had massive issues where our retailer was using "actual readings" that swayed significantly from the actual read on the meter, I know this is the supplier (SA Power Networks) that does the actual readings, but it was like getting blood out of a stone from Origin. Long story short, our meter current reading was well below even the previous read on our bill (3 months prior).

      My best recommendation if your meter isn't digital (as in you can access yourself digitally or from your retail supplier portal). Keep a diary of usage at certain times of the day. Maybe a read in the morning before work and a read when you get home. You'll then be able to split the usage into different halves:

      1. While you were away from home
      2. While you were at home/overnight

      You should then be able to work out what you have running during those times, if you're seeing significantly more usage while you're away compared to home, are you running the aircon during the day in preparation for arriving home? By splitting it up, you should find it easier to pinpoint certain appliances that are running during those times.

      Also, something I hadn't done for a while, do you have reverse cycle ducted aircon or similar? Perhaps check the return vent as they have a filter. The aircon could be getting choked and in turn use more electricity to run. Return vent filters should be vacuumed cleaned every 3 or so months. Another issue could be that the aircon is starting to become faulty, have you had a service etc?

      It sounds like you're querying a bill that you've just received which I'd assume was your summer bill. It's extremely likely that the usage would be related to aircon. Our reverse cycle ducted costs us about $2 or more an hour to run. Granted we have terrible weather proofing and it's double-storey.

    • But doesnt smart meter mean you have to go on the dodgy peak shoulder off peak contracts

      • Even with a smart meter you still have a choice of which tariff you wish - well at least you do in Victoria

  • +17

    Did you vote for Liberal/Labor in the last election? I'm asking on behalf of an ozbargainer who is slow off the mark or in the middle of composing a lengthy comment.

    • -10

      You can get rid of it by voting Greens next election.

      But people are happy with losing thousands of dollars to con artists so the current system will continue.

      • +6

        Yeah nah

      • +7

        Lol for Kahn, but yes some of us agree both libs and labour are completely f'ed.

        Still going to vote labour this federal election because another 4 years of libs makes me want to cringe.

        • +1

          a vote for greens or a similar minor party will get preferenced towards labor anyway. if youre kinda ambivalent towards labor, and arent very against the minors, this isnt a bad way to go. labor still gets your vote (if the minor doesnt win), but in a way thats slightly uncomfortable for them and makes them a bit more careful

          • +1

            @crentist: Assuming Labor come first or second on first preferences… and assuming you put Labor higher on the ticket than the other party that comes first or second on first preferences.

        • As far as I can tell neither Libs, Labour nor Greens are making our sky high electricity prices an election issue.

          Some other parties are though.

  • +1

    Similar situation but in Vic.
    Average daily usage is under 5 kw/h so yes yours sounds excessive.

    • I wish!!
      In a 4 bedroom house, between about midnight and 8am, with just the main fridge, and a (very) small stand alone freezer, and with everything else just on standby we still churn through about 3Kw. To use just 5Kw over 24 hrs you must live in a bedsitter?

      • +3


        Actually it's a 4bdr here as well, with all appliances being electric except for hot water which is gas.

        But old age is taking hold and forgot that the house has solar which negates daytime usage. My bad.

      • 3 - 5 khw/day in a 2 bed apartment while my wife is away, 20 - 50 kwh/day while she's here :-/ Water is heated separately, covered by strata.

        • Is your wife running a bitcoin mining farm?

          • @vetopower: AC 20 hours a day, plus doing things like running the dryer at the same time.

  • Haha we average 25kwh, $567 paid on time. Big electric water heater, no solar. The water heater has a timer so it's off during peak hours.

  • +1

    Doesn't it have past history and "same time last year" on the bill?

    • Yes, last year same period was 9.8 kWh. Nothing has changed.

  • +3

    Check your water heater isn't leaking

    • My hot water is on demand gas. So not an issue there.

  • 14kWh isn’t particularly high if you have electric hot water. In a 3br house it is probably set to keep the tank quite hot to support a family’s needs.
    It reads as if this is your first bill at this house, so maybe check things like the water heater and aircon.
    I would suggest 14kWh would be typical of a house with no aircon, as they can easily use over kWh every hour.

    If it isn’t your first bill, what has changed?

    • Last year same period was 9.8 kWh. Nothing has changed. Absolutely same living habits. Been living in the same place for 5 years now. Never used to be this high.
      Hot water is on demand gas. So not an issue there.

      • +3

        Definitely need to get yourself a power meter and start isolating everything and testing item by item.

        Fridge or Freezer door seals knackered?
        Reverse Cycle Aircon defrost cycle on permanently?
        Big gaming Rig PC on 24/7?

        • I agree to look at things with a thermostat that could be stuck always on, like a fridge/freezer.

        • Big gaming Rig PC on 24/7?

          Oh, that's right, I did start mining Bitcoin!

        • Ouch. Making me think about how much juice my gaming PC chews through.

      • Is it possible last year same period you got an estimated bill instead of an actual ? Same thing for the last bill ?
        If the meter reader can't get to your meter, then you get an estimated bill.

      • +1

        Perhaps this year was warmer than last year, so you used your A/C more. Also in warmer days your fridge will work harder even if you don't open it, just due to heat gain.
        Compare the max temperature in the same period his year and last year.

        Central A/C is only more efficient if you cool down the whole house. If it is only you perhaps it would be better to have a split unit in the room you are in most of the time.

  • +1

    We must be doing really well then….3 person household (all working full time) with an average 6-8 kWh usage. According to the bill a standard household would be close to 13kWh.

    • +3

      3 person household (all working full time) with an average 6-8 kWh

      There is your answer.. Nobody home during 1/3 of the day means no electricity being used 1/3 of the day also heh

      • That's the same for the OP

  • Is your hot water electric? This can account for 30-50% of your bill.

    • My hot water is on demand gas. So not an issue there.

  • Got a smart meter or a basic (dial) meter?

    PS: I have no confidence in the government-mandated 'average X household uses Y energy' details on electricity bills. Sample size was absolutely microscopic from memory, in some regions only one household was surveyed?

    • No, how do I get one?

      • Contact SA Power Networks, they're rolling them out but you can opt to buy one for a fee. ~$100? Not sure.

        Then you can sign up to their website, and monitor your usage day per day. You'll need a smart meter to get the daily info though. You can sign up right now, but chances are you'll only see quarterly information. Give it a shot.


  • Sorry cant really help but man this just highlights the problem with the electricity industry at the moment. Theres nothing that displays this kind of information or a breakdown to the customer in the end. The company i work for is trying hard to put real time consumption data more readily available in people's hands though.

    • Most companies are in the process of creating these kind of insights. Expect them within 12 months i reckon, along with threshold alerts such as 'your bill just went over $500'

    • +1

      You mean like these?


      I've had one - two, actually - for years. They work well.

      • hmm not exactly. we've developed a smart circuit breaker thats wifi connected. Of course cant replace a smart meter but just a step in that direction.

  • +4

    Get one of these, start testing your appliances. I'd start with your fridge.


  • We are also in SA and just had our largest electricity bill. This year we used 23.76 a day and last year was 20.94. I put it down to a very hot summer and using the air conditioning more.

  • +1

    you can request to go into your elecricty meter room and shut down all device in your home and see if the meter still moving.
    if you are on smart meter i think you can monitor remotely but I am not sure how.

  • +1

    Probably not best to be comparing 'this time last year' in this case? I'd be more interested in all bills over the 12 months, and if any were estimates. You can also get and compare the meter readings directly from the sa power networks website. Maybe you can find a trend or particular bill where usage jumped. My own usage (also in SA) jumped a similar amount after my son was born, and wifey wanted air con on 24/7 😬

  • +2

    14 kWh/day seems too high,for a single person with gas hot water and cooking. On a day when you are home all day turn off the main power switch for 2 hours, with a meter read, before and after. If the reading changes you have a problem that SA power network would like to know about. Oh, make sure the fridge is closed properly! I guess you are paying around 40 cents plus per kWh.

  • One of the problems is that Alinta energy in SA tends to have higher rates before and after discounts. They offer big discounts but their rates are higher than their competition's rates as well as having a higher daily supply charge. Origin and simply energy, whilst offering a lower discount percentage, also have comparatively lower rates so you would end up with a lower bill for the same usage.

    Other things to check for are electronics that are left on or not going onto standby, fridge or freezer seals failing (more heat in means your fridge works harder, also make sure that airflow isn't obstructed in the fridge), air conditioner setting (leave it at close to 24 degrees and run it in dry mode if it's not too hot, don't cycle it on and off as this uses more power), change your lights to LEDs to save power, etc.

    That being said, we did have a weird summer. Our energy consumption was 50% higher than last year as well. We're halfway through autumn but we're still having 30+ degree days.

    • +2

      I'm yet to find cheaper than Tango Energy, no rubbish discounts, just cheaper prices. Plus $50 credit when you sign up with electronic bills and DD. They also guarantee their prices for 12 months. I also like that it's monthly billing, so if there's an issue you know sooner, not that I've had one.

      I was still confused when I got a bill for $37.79 for 35 days though, forgot about the $50 credit when I moved house.

  • +4

    Get a sparky over to check out the safety box and make sure you are paying for only you ? He should also be able to test all your gear and see if anything is pulling more juice.

  • Possibly the fridge pulling in more power due to the heat?

  • Get something like a wattsclever electricity monitor. It shows you how much you are using daily. For me… 2 people in 3 bed house… 4-6kwh/day…if really hot and use aircon… Up to 10.

  • Be careful as alinta will end their discounts after a certain amount of time, I had this issue.

    Call up and threaten to cancel and they will give you a better deal.

  • Do you have an external/outside electrical socket? Someone might be running an extension to their pool pump while you are out?

  • As 'trustnoone' above said, sometimes the previous quarter's values are estimates. This is so if there are issues accessing your meter, and your meter is a cumulative (old-style) one. They work like the odometer on your car, and keep clicking whenever there is usage.

    If the meter reader had issues accessing your meter for the previous quarter, he/she would have submitted a no-read value, and the distributor would have calculated an estimate value based on your previous year's usage. If this was an underestimate, the next time they actually access your meter and get the actual reading, it seems as though you overpaid for the current quarter. However, what has in fact happened is that you have paid for your actual usage over 6 months (Actual - Estimate - Actual).

    Your bill should state whether the start and/or end reads are actual or estimate.

  • It was a warmer summer (to me anyway in NSW), depending on your A/C it would definitely be a factor.
    We replaced our dying swampy with a ducted reverse cycle (Samsung 14KW), and wow what a difference, in both cooling capacity (had to test it so it was cooling our house down to below 21 on a 45 degree day!) but man we paid for it, our bill almost doubled the previous time last year! Luckily with solar and the discounts the bill wasn't terribly large ($440 for the quarter) but will definitely be keeping the A/C on higher than that next year! but worth every cent to have the wife and bub in a comfort.

  • Switch off everything, including fridge etc, turn off all powerpoints, then see if your meter is still running.. if so I'd be concerned about someone stealing electricity..
    Then you could try switching off circuit breakers one at a time from the box (or unplugging fuses).. if still getting meter movement with all these off then something ain't right

  • Hah I'm at 19.66 kWh per day (~25-30 during winter) - 2 people in a unit. Consider yourself lucky. Although we have everything on Electricity as we don't have Gas - Stove, Water, Aircon Splits, Washer/Dryer etc

  • Its because you live in Australia and are being completely ripped off. The positive is you are not alone.

  • 1 bedroom unit, with gas, no one home for 14 hours of the day. I'm averaging 40Kwh per hour on my last bill. I'm stumped because my last unit was 5kwh average and we have the same routine…

  • +2

    My 2c:

    Is your gas hot water backed up by an electrical heating element?
    The flame might have gone out or isn't working anymore.

    What temperature is the fridge/freezer?

    Go round house/garage/outside and switch everything off at the wall. Only things left on will be kitchen fridge, fish tank & kitchen oven. There can be switches/lights in the roof/floor space!

    14kWh is very high since your hot water is gas. In VIC expect 3-6kWh/day without heating/cooling and with hot water on gas.

    I think but not an expert, if you boil 2l of water the power meter will increase by about 2 units. This checks for faulty meter.

    All the best.

    • I've got gas hot water, live in apartment.
      We averaging at least 10kW/day for 2 people…
      3-6 is definitely not reasonable IMHO.

      This is what my electricity bill tells me (although I'm not sure if it does include the fact that our hot water is gas too)

      Household Size 1 2 3 4
      Summer 11.6kWh 14.0kWh 16.4kWh 18.8kWh
      Winter 14.8kWh 17.1kWh 19.5kWh 21.8kWh
  • +2

    If it isn't someone using an outdoor plug you have or your bill includes strata electricity or something like that then internally there are two things the most likely culprits:

    • Fridge &/or freezer.
    • A/C.

    With the fridge/freezer the only thing that could cause that sort of increase is the cold air constantly escaping. No efficiency drop in the heat exchange system could cause it, only it needing to do a whole lot more cooling could possibly explain it.

    With the A/C… you say you used it the same as last year and you've never had a bill that big. 4kWh is nothing for a house sized A/C. It'd use that in about an hour. One day running it for 8 hours because you had friends round or whatever would cover a weeks explanation. It's also really easy to feel like you used it the same as last year but you didn't. If you had a house sitter at some point they might have left it on 24/7 which would cover the entire period.

    A useful way to narrow it down - check if you're still running through a lot of power. Write down your meter number every day/week, take careful note of what you've got on during those periods and see if it adds up.

    • +5

      It's extremely likely OP simply used A/C more than last year.

      Far more likely than someone stealing their electricity.

  • You should search and try Hydro Pacific energy.

  • We once had a series of extremely high bills (over $2000 each quarter). It ended up being two different problems.

    1. Fridge (fancy smeg double one, only a few years old) but used horrendous amount of electricty). I was advised to get rid of it, which we did. Bought whirlpool instead (double again) and no problems.

    2. Electric hot water had a faulty pump

    Got both of those problems sorted and our bills became more normal (about $900-1000 a quater).

    Your bill seems extremely low to me LOL!!

  • Call SA POWER NETWORKS on 13 12 61, ask if your bill was estimated. How the usage compares to last year. Other than that you might have had your meter changed over and its more accurate or your retailer Alinta are charging you a higher rate. You should shop around.

    • Why, it should say actual or estimated on the bill

      • Bills are not always correct at stating actual or estimated. Whilst rare, it does occur.

  • This seems crazy. I live in a 3 bedroom by myself, with a 3 phase ducted aircon/heating system. I don't use this much, only on stupidly hot days 35c or above.

    I am with Globird in Vic and pay $39-$42/month after discount, or roughly ~$120/quarter. I will be switching to Tango Energy soon as they offer a better deal.

  • Some electricity wholesalers (the company that your provider buys the energy from) will let you get your smart meter data and see a daily breakdown. That's the best way to see what's using the power through the day.

    Almost everyone who complains that their usage has gone up will find that it's the aircon/heaters/cooking appliances etc.

  • +1

    Does the bill say actual or estimated read?

    In either case check what your meter says and compare it to the bill.

    Maybe also take a reading every day for the next week at the same time and calculate your daily and average usage. See if that aligns?

    Lastly take a reading just before work and when you get home and see how much was used while you weren't home and while you were.

    But my guess is your fridge is failing. I reckon if someone was stealing electricity you'd probably see a bigger increase.

  • "Edit 2: Some are suggesting for stolen electricity, what's the best way to check for this?"

    Visit your next door neighbor with some Tim Tams and ask if they want one.

  • Fastest way to do it would be to start at your circuit breaker/fuse box.
    Check your meter to get an idea how much electricity is currently being used, then switch of each circuit one at a time to get an idea which one(s) are drawing the most power.

    Once you have narrowed down which circuit(s) makes the meter spin faster, switch that circuit off again and go check which appliances or lights are off in the house.

    Turn the circuit back on and then turn off the individual appliances one by one, checking the meter each time.

    This will cost you nothing but a bit of your time. If you are still unsure or want a bit more detail then look at getting a cheap plug in power meter as others have suggested. Or if you find its on a circuit that isn't controlled by GPO's (power points) - aircon, oven, etc. then it may be time to contact your energy supplier or call in a sparkie to investigate.

  • OP how much was the dollar amount of your 9.8kw bill from last year?

    Power prices have gone up this year and with nearly a 50% increase in power usage the $ amount you are up for might be on track.

    Also your air-con automatically comes on and we have had a warmer 3 months than last year. Something to consider. You can also check to see if your fridges/freezer are running a bit harder due to warm weather or seals leaking.

    Have you bought absolutely no appliances in the last 12 months?

  • Hide your personal info and post your last few electricity bills

  • Had this happen to me. Turned out that the company fked up and I was paying for someone else's instead of mine (apartment). Took some time for them to figure it out though and they ended up reimbursing me

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