5,817 kilowatt-hour (kWh), per year, is the average electricity usage throughout Australian households. The Australian Energy Regulator studied these findings in 2014 and concluded that the average electricity bill would have been $1,690 per alum (or $425 per quarter) for electricity alone in each household.

In this article, we charter our way through the ‘household-electricity-sphere’ to help you become a little more energy-savvy in the future.


7 higher bill considerations

It’s probably safe to say that at some point in your life you’ve opened your electricity bill and have been a little surprised with the total amount due – and, not in a good way. However, before running around and turning off every appliance in your home, think about the things that may have impacted your bill.

    1. A longer billing cycle. Sometimes the number of days in a billing cycle can differ from the next, which can increase your total amount due. You need to compare apples with apples.

    2. Meter reading estimate. Often utility providers take an estimate of your electricity meter, which can be based on the same time the year prior or alternatively your previous billing cycle. If you believe this estimate is not a true reflection of your usage during this period then have a chat with your utility provider about getting an actual reading of your meter.

    3. Energy plan expired. When entering into a contract with your utility provider you will often find that the plan you settle on (and, its discounts) has a 12 month expiry date after which you may be placed on a ‘standard’ (often higher priced) plan until you choose a new discounted plan.

    4. Energy prices*. Sometimes utility prices increase, due to such factors as wholesale costs, network charges and retail margin, which can add to the overall running cost of each appliance that you utilise in your household.

    5. Weather can have a major influence on your energy use. Air conditioning pushes up your energy use in summer, whilst winter may see you enter into ‘hibernation-mode’ by staying indoors and increasing your use of the lights, TV, computer, clothes dryer or heater.

    6. New appliances. The purchase of a new appliance can add to your energy usage and depending on its energy efficiency star rating, and your usage habits, this impact can be big or small.

    7. Temporary guests in your household. With more people under the one roof, even for a short period of time, your energy costs can rise as the use of household appliances increase.

The phantom in the room

Phantom load, also known as standby power, refers to the energy drawn down by an appliance when it’s not in use. According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, ‘Phantom load is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity consumption and costs the average household almost $100 per year’.

Some of the main culprits are multifunction printers ($29.56 per quarter), wireless VOIP routers ($6.35 per quarter), and speaker docks ($4.75 per quarter) – whilst the usage costs are not incredibly high, it is important to note that they do add up so by turning off unused appliances at the power point may save you money!

Those electricity-hungry smartphones, tablets and laptops – or are they?

With the advent of smartphones, tablets and laptops, and their increasing use in your daily lives, it probably seems that you are frequently reaching for the charger due to their relatively poor battery life. However, never fear as they apparently require only small amounts of electricity to charge up. For example, the electricity costs attributed to fully recharging every day for 12 months your: iPhone is 50c per year; iPad is $2.70 per year; and, laptop is $13 per year.

The sum of all parts

Often when looking at your electricity bill you probably don’t think about the ‘sum of all the parts’, especially the big ticket appliances, that have come together to produce the total amount due on your statement. Did you know that the average Australian home contains 67 household appliances?

HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION COSTS   
APPLIANCESSIZEESTIMATED USEESTIMATED RUNNING COST*
Air conditionerLounge/Dining – 5 kW7 hours per day$0.38 per hour
Small ducted – 12kWh$0.93 per hour
HeaterSmall room – 1500 W7-12 hours per day$0.40 per hour
Lounge room – 2400 W$0.65 per hour
Clothes  dryerTimer type 5kg1 load per week$1.24 per load
Dishwasher12 place setting  – normal load3 times per week$0.28 per load
Hot Water ElectricElectric peak power7 kWh per day$1.89 per day
Electric off-peak 1. power$1.16 per day
Electric off-peak 2. power$1.16 per day
Hot Water SolarSolar – electric booster2.8 kWh per day$0.76 per day
LightingCFL globes - 6 x 20 W3 hours per day$0.03 per hour
Halogen spots – 12 x 50 W$0.16 per hour
LED spots – 12 x 6.5 W$0.02 per hour
RefrigeratorFamily size – 400 litresCompressor running time approximately 30%$0.35 per day
Large size – 600+ litres$0.66 per day
Television40" LCD5 hours per day$0.04 per hour
42" Plasma$0.08 per hour
Washing machineTop load warm wash 5.5kg5 loads per week$0.46 per load
Front load warm wash 5.5kg$0.19 per load

If you are wanting to become more energy efficient and cut your energy bills down, it is a good idea to study this chart to better understand the indivdual cost of each appliance that you use in the house. You can begin to see where your energy consumption habits lie which will help to work towards becoming more efficient with your overall usage. Consider the impact that you could be making on not only the environment, but to your surplus income as you reduce your energy consumption (without causing discomfort for you and other household members). There may be more opportunity for you to invest at a younger age, plan for retirement earlier and reduce debt faster just by considering your energy usage and consumption costs.

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