Electricity is crucial to homes and businesses throughout the Canberra region, but it doesn’t come cheap. There are usage fees, which can escalate in winter, as well as ongoing service charges for connections, access and maintenance.
With the growing costs of electricity and the high cost of living in the ACT, it pays to understand your electricity bill so you can control your use and find an electricity provider that suits your needs.
As electricity experts, we’re here to help cover how electrical supply works in Canberra as well as the ACT pricing structure so you know what to look for when changing providers or auditing your power bill.
ACT Electricity Tariffs
There are a large number of factors that affect electricity usage and tariffs, particularly in the ACT, where the electricity rates are government regulated.
One drawback to government-enforced regulations is there are fewer energy suppliers to choose from, meaning competitive pricing might be harder to come by.
Each electricity retailer sets its own rates, so it’s possible to see a range of different tariffs offered. To attract new customers many providers have sign-up discounts and enticing packages to encourage switching ]over.
As well as standard prices, customers can be given limited flexibility on their power rates, provided they have the correct meter installed and block rates are on offer. A block rate tariff, which may be labelled “peak”, “demand” or “single” rate on your bill, charges customers different prices depending on how much electricity has been used as well as what time of day the power was consumed.
The number of people in your home will be a factor that impacts your average electricity bills, with smaller households (three people or less) typically using less electricity than larger households.
As well as the number of people, other actors that influence the amount of electricity a household uses include:
- How big your home is
- The local climate
- Solar panels
- The type of heating and cooling systems you have
- The type of hot water system you have
- If there are any hot tubs or swimming pool pumps
If you have a number of big power items in your home, like pool pumps, tumble driers or an electric vehicle charger you can consider switching these to a controlled load. This is a separately metered electrical supply tuned to use off-peak rates.
Understanding your power bills
While power bills are not something most of us enjoy receiving, they do contain some handy information to help you make informed choices about your electricity provider comparisons to other ACT suppliers.
Understanding your power bill can be tricky as there is a lot of data, but overall the base information is your daily power usage and the service charge.
Your daily usage is the average of your power consumption for that billing period. It will be shown in cents per kWh. This might be shown in multiple sections with different rates per kWh shown alongside if your tariffs are broken over different types i.e peak, off-peak and controlled loads.
The supply charge you have is a fixed price no matter how much energy you consume.
Both the rates of use (Kwh) and the charge rates are handy to use when comparing prices to other providers.
As well as your supply charge, your bill will show you a comparison of your use to others in your area. To get an accurate measure of where you sit in terms of average electricity use, read the rates for users who have similar household numbers to you.
If you don’t know where to start you can try an energy monitor to track your electricity usage and learn how much power you are using as well as when you use it. All you need is a smart meter or meter attachment to get started.
The exact cost of electricity per kWh is evolving as energy companies frequently change their products and prices, particularly when creating attractive deals for new customers. If you have been with the same energy provider for some time you may find it beneficial to change to a new provider and get their sign up specials.
As far as supply charges go in Canberra, prices sit around 80c to $1.20 a day.
We can see in the chart below that the ACT has the highest electricity bills out of the mainland states with a yearly average electricity bill of $1,967. Victoria has the lowest average of the states, $835 a year less than the ACT, but this is partly due to many Victorian’s using natural gas for heating and stove stops.
The figures in the chart below show the average annual electricity bill per state of a two-person household.
|State||Average Electricity Bill ($)|
|New South Wales||$1,292|
* Residential electricity price trends 2020, Final report, 21 December 2020. Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).
Power usage in Canberra is significantly higher in cold months with ACT’s winter power usage 40% higher than spring.
The table below compares the big electricity providers in the ACT gives a snapshot of the average power bill prices at the end of 2020.
|Retailer – Plan||Average Bill ($)|
|Origin Energy – Origin Go||$1,707|
|ActewAGL – Home 15||$1,810|
|Energy Australia – Total Plan||$1,823|
*Numbers show single rate tariff, with AEMC’s default electricity usage of 7151 kWh on the Evoenergy network.
Where Canberra gets its electricity
Canberra’s entire electricity supply is purchased from renewable sources including solar, wind and hydro-power stations throughout NSW and SA, in particular the giant Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia.
To achieve this, the ACT government offers attractive contracts to their suppliers, going above the standard market price to lock in supply, with payments to renewable suppliers. These contracts are predicted to cost as much as $127 million for the 2021-22 period. This additional charge costs Canberra residents an average of an additional $5.50 a week.
How to save money on electricity
As electricians, we know plenty of ways you can save money on your electricity bill. It’s surprising just how big some small changes can be.
Install energy-efficient lighting
Changing to energy-efficient light bulbs is a highly effective way to reduce your energy consumption. Although they cost a little more upfront, the $4 price tag is nothing compared to the additional $250 that halogen bulbs can cost you over a year.
Dress for the conditions
You don’t need to excessively heat and cool your home to be comfortable. Many households aim to maintain a 22-24 temperature indoors all year long. This puts a lot of pressure on your heating and cooling systems which will show in your power bills. Look to set your heating between 18 and 20 degrees and wear a jumper indoors and in summer, set the thermostat to 25 or 26 degrees and turn off your systems when you are not at home.
Lock the weather out
You can help your heating and cooling systems run effectively by shutting the door on outside conditions. Close curtains, doors and shutters to keep the sun and chill off windows and use draft stoppers to keep out cold. Installing or updating the insulation batts in your roof is a cost-effective and easy way to regulate your indoor temperature, saving as much as 45% on your power usage.
Set your whitegoods to a comfortable zone
Make sure you’re not overdoing it on your whitegoods. Set your freezer and fridge for mid-range rather than the coldest setting. With your TV check the brightness setting too to make sure it’s not on maximum power-draining levels.
Switch on eco
Most modern appliances like washing machines and dishwashers come with eco settings that can help reduce your power bills with regular use. When washing clothes use the right water setting for the volume of clothes and wash in cold water as often as possible.
Turn appliances off at the wall
The small act of turning off powerpoints or unplugging items that are not in use, like TVs, computers, microwaves and chargers can save as much as $100 a year. While it might be tricky to remember to do, smart power boards can help by cutting standby power.
Solar panels on your roof can help reduce your average power bills in Canberra as well as your carbon footprint. You can choose to send any unused power back to the main grid to help cover the costs of your solar investment.
Look for the best deal
If reducing your electricity usage doesn’t help you can also look at providers to see if a better deal is available. You can take advantage of the federal government’s Energy Made Easy website to easily compare prices between electricity providers.
Canberra is in a unique position with electricity, having 100% sustainable power sources and government regulated electricity tariffs.
When it comes to your electricity usage, there is probably more you have control of than you realise, even a small effort can help reduce your power usage and the right provider can offer a deal to match your user patterns.
Ebbs and flow of the market will continue to have an impact on electricity tariffs, no matter who your provider is, with some companies doing more work than others to make their electricity provision attractive to new customers.
If you have further questions about how electricity billing works in the ACT, or if you need any assistance in boosting your home’s energy efficiency, Complete Electrical are your local Canberra electricians for reliable and trustworthy service.
Book with the most trusted electricians in Canberra
To book one of our friendly Canberra electricians, or to learn more about our electrical services, please call the professional team at Complete Electrical Service.