My energy bill is probably the largest expense in my household.
At the moment my bill is something around $1500.00 per quarter. When I talk about this online, I get the ‘Oh you should change providers‘, or ‘Shop around for a better deal’. But the thing is – I have shopped around, I have previously changed providers. But my bill is still pretty spectacularly high. I’ve stuck with my current provider for about eight years now because I get good service. But I wanted to know exactly WHY my bill was so huge.
This is why I’ve partnered with Origin to ‘please explain…’ and uncover why my energy usage was so high so I could understand.
And I’m glad I did. I found some pretty revealing results… and got loads of tips on how to reduce my bill.
So I had an energy audit conducted on my home…
Origin sent around a lovely lady called Anne from EnergyAid who conducted a home energy audit. You see, Origin was also concerned about my high energy usage (plus I didn’t want them thinking it was because I was growing a marijuana crop in my spare room….). Anne went around my home and took a photograph of every appliance that I had plugged in. There were a LOT of photographs at the end…. I didn’t really realise how many ‘things’ I had plugged in.
- I have two fridges and an upright freezer, most people don’t have that…. I could turn off the Beer fridge, but then I’d probably get divorced. The upright freezer is my third baby.
- I have ducted air-conditioning, which runs all day in the summer because I work from home. Most people don’t work from home – and I hadn’t taken into account that my bill will be higher because I’m home using it all the time……
- I have loads of computer screens, laptops and printers, which are all on errr.. probably 24 hours per day… oops.
- My air-conditioner filters were dusty (I do usually clean them – but obviously I need to do them more often).
- I use my air conditioner in my bedroom all night, all throughout the year….
- I run my dryer in wet weather – and we have had a lot of wet weather in Gympie for the last few months.
- I have a sewage treatment plant which runs 24 hours per day. Because I live in a rural area, we don’t have sewerage connected, so we need to process our own. It runs a pump around the clock.
- I have a water pump (I’m also not on town water) – which runs any time water is used in the house. The water pump is connected to three large rainwater tanks that is collected from the roof.
Hmmmm, I was starting to see why my bill was so high.
And that I can’t really compare my bill to, say, my next door neighbour who works out of the house 40 hours per week and only has two people at home at night.
She then showed me her own personal energy usage on a graph over 24 hours – she could tell when her son got home, when he turned on the air conditioner, when he was cooking dinner – because you could see the graph going up in usage over that 5pm – 7pm period then level out at 10pm when the home went to bed.
I learned how to read my electricity bill…
Usually, I go straight to the BIG FIGURE – cry, hide the bill for a few days so hubby doesn’t see it, cry again, then work out how I’m going to pay it.
Apparently, there was a lot of information I totally missed. I know about the address and due date but totally didn’t understand the bit about ‘Your Energy Plan’, and ‘Your Usage Summary’ which is on every bill.
What is ‘Your Energy Plan’?
The Energy Plan part of your bill shows the plan or agreement you were on when the bill was issued. Just like a mobile phone bill, you can be on different plans. It also states the end date of your plan (I wish phone plans did that!) so you know exactly when the plan ends and you can then find a new, better or cheaper plan for your electricity use.
This area of your bill will also list any discounts and rebates that will apply.
What is ‘Your Usage Summary’?
The Usage Summary on your electricity bill gives you a ‘snapshot’ of how you use electricity in your home. It compares your usage in the current period with the same time last year. It gives you a ‘Cost per day’ figure and let’s you know how many tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions your electricity usage has caused, and any green products you have will off-set these. Click here for more tips on how to read your bill.
I spoke to a consultant to ask how to get a better deal…
After the Energy Audit, I talked to a consultant to ask just how one actually goes about getting a better deal on electricity. The lovely young bloke I spoke to said something astonishing…
“We want our customers to be hands-on with their bill, to pay less by taking advantage of the deals we offer, but most people just pay their bill quarterly and whinge about the cost without taking action, it is these people that are paying the most for electricity.”
Hmmm – they WANT me to ring them, they WANT me to discuss the bill, they WANT me to be hands-on with my electricity usage. And I haven’t been. I do exactly that, pay it and bitch about the cost. I didn’t think that an energy provider would want me to ring them, or would want me to take advantage of deals and pay less. Plus, I suppose I don’t know about the deals because I’m not hands-on….
So what do they actually offer in the way of better deals for customers?
I popped onto the Origin Energy website to explore what offers and services were available right now! They had a few…
This one is where you upload your latest electricity bill – and Origin will analyse it and tell me if I can get a better deal. While I had a chance to speak with a lovely consultant, not everyone has time to do this so that’s where the Origin Savernator is really helpful! I had a play around by uploading my latest electronic bill just to show how simple the tool is. But even if you can’t find your latest bill, you can just do an estimate based on ‘low use, medium use or high use, and including your postcode.
Based on my ‘Guestimate’ using an old bill, Savernater revealed that I could save $22 over a 90 day period off my electricity bill. Heck yes!
This involves Origin taking a look at your energy usage over the previous 12 months, then providing you with a quote for your energy costs for the next 12 months based on how much energy Origin predict you will use. You then can lock in monthly or even fortnightly payments for your energy for the rest of the year that don’t change – that’s right, they stay the same. It is like ‘locking in’ the price you will pay for your electricity which is great for people on a strict budget so they won’t get ‘Bill Shock’ every three months.
They ask you three questions (and I’m going to cheat by telling you what they are here.)
- Have you lived in your property for at least 3 months?
- Are you happy to pay by direct debit?
- Do you have solar panels?
Now apparently these deals change all the time, so it is a matter of ‘being hands on’ to keep taking advantage of the deals so you are always paying as little as possible!
You Should Get Solar to Save Money!
I know. But I haven’t because of the cost. Plus my house is really pretty, and I don’t want the solar panels to make it look ugly. But it is a good idea. I’m getting them to give me a quote on solar at the moment – I’ll give you more information on it as it comes to hand.
Origin do have loads of information on Solar though, how it works, feed-in tariffs, and their reasoning for suggesting solar.
Me – I would love to pay less for electricity so I’m excited to see the results when they come in. Everyone that has solar already raves about it. But like everything in life, it comes with a price. I love the idea of green power, and it is something I hope to look into further.
Lastly, there are options for people enduring financial hardship…
When you think about it, these days we are using so much more electricity because we have more STUFF. There are many people in our community who are struggling to pay the rising electricity costs, what happens to these people? Financial hardship could happen to anyone at any time.
“In 2017, 30,000 residential electricity customers did not have the means to pay for their electricity bill.”
If you need financial assistance with your electricity bill, I highly recommend you check out the ‘Power On Program‘. The Program gives electricity customers:
- Flexible payment assistance programs
- Concession and rebate assistance
- Centrepay and direct debit information
- If you are in Queensland, there is an HEEA Scheme that is a safety net for eligible low-income households
- Financial Counselling service referrals
- An energy plan that ensures your power isn’t turned off but is affordable.
So, stay tuned, follow my journey on paying less for electricity and more on wine!