After checking the billing components of various Australian electricity bills, offered to householders in New South Wales, we would suggest there are many changes to be made, to help add clarity to residential electricity billing.
Changes and improvements that allow the householder and electricity retailer, to reduce the number of times confusion arises, due to incorrect or lack of information.
1. A STANDARD COMMON LAYOUT offered by all electricity retailers is sought. Retailers can add to occurring errors, by constantly encouraging householders to change their electricity plans, to further save off costs. This constant changing back and forth along with different billing layouts, increases the total confusion by the householder and also can add the chance of error from moving billing from one computer system to another.
Required is a simple and easy to understand layout, designed and tested to help the Aussie householder understand the electricity bill. When you are faced with a variety of electricity bills from many retailers in a day as we are, it makes you realise how varied these electricity bills are in layout and design.
There does not seem to be a logical structure with some of the electricity bills offered.
2. EASY TO UNDERSTAND CONTENT which is designed to make the electricity bill an easy read 100% of the time. The electricity bill has for to long, been a 'no go' area for many householders. Due often to the complexity of the bill. With the increase in electricity costs, householders need to be able to understand the bill quickly.
We have seem some electricity bills that are so complex, on some occasions they are not even fully understood, by the electricity retailer's telephone contact!
3. TIME OF USE COST ANALYSIS for a true understanding of this tariff's costs. Electricity retailers provide a usage graph related to the Time Of Use tariff, so why not offer one with the cost analysis of the same.
It is all very good to pat the householder on the back for using only 25% of peak electricity, without pointing out that this same usage, could be accounting for close to 50% of the electricity costs! This is very misleading as the householder thinks they are doing the right thing, whilst they could still be doing far more to reduce their electricity costs, if the tariff was understood 100%!
4. NUMBER OF DAYS BILLED FOR needs to be clearer and highlighted more, to reduce the chance of the householder thinking they have used more electricity, for a standard period.
We have seen electricity bills for 83 days to 125 days. Meaning a large electricity bill can all of a sudden ring alarm bells for many householders and create unwanted stress. The householder thinking they have used far more electricity. And for this same unknown reason they are being billed for a far greater amount than normal!
When in fact they may have used the same, amount of power per day. The number of days needs to stand out like the total cost! Is this practice of better clarity not going to result in less phone calls to the retailer?
5. TIME OF USE TARIFF TIMES are not stated on any electricity bill we have seen in NSW. Time Of Use electricity bills need to contain the time of use tariff information.
Whilst some homes may have a variety of in-date or out-of-date Time Of Use stickers on the fridge, not many homes fully understand their current TOU tariff times.
This data needs to be added to the electricity bill, so the householder can manage their costs better. Which is it not, the main reason the householder is on the TOU tariff according to the electricity retailer? We would argue that managing and reducing, are two very different subjects, when it comes to the electricity bill.
6. METER TYPE & TARIFF TYPE are not often known or understood fully by the householder. The type of meter installed by the electricity distributor could help a lot of householders with issues related to meter. During discussion with the retailer about billing, the meter type is important as it can help to clarify certain aspects of the billing.
For example in a home with three mechanical spinning disks meters, the householder thought they had a digital meter, after speaking to the electricity retailer's support centre. No digital meter was present and no time of use tariff was in force, as discussed by the electricity retailer. A tiered rate tariff in fact was current with an electricity bill showing both tiered rate billing and graphs for a TOU tariff. Totally confusing!
Now whilst this may have occurred during a changeover of retailers, it would certainly have helped reduce the confusion in the home. Especially where the retailer thinks they are correct and in fact in this case were mistaken. Meter type and tariff type clearly needs to be stated at the beginning of the electricity bill.
7. ELECTRICITY RETAILERS PLAN NAME can be sometime really difficult to find on the electricity bill. And even harder on some electricity retailer's websites, unless you sign up for the plan! Should we not have access to the information before deciding to commit? This needed information is not on all electricity bills.
It is often easy to see the tariff rate, but if other information is sought after by the householder, for let us say on off-peak options, these may differ where there are many types of plan. Sometimes we know the householder thinks they are on a certain plan, with the retailer saying they are on another plan.
Questions then arise as to whether this changed without the householder's knowledge. Confusion and disagreement easily arise in this environment. The plan name needs to be added to the main page of the electricity bill.
As we can see a little basic information provided by the electricity retailers in a common and standard format, will assist in helping to make the electricity bill easily understood by many householders in Australia. This is not rocket science!
This is just a starting point for electricity bill improvement in Australia.
This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.