How to handle an unexpectedly high electricity bill

Opening an unexpectedly high power bill can be a rude shock. If you’re wondering how you’re going to pay your monster bill off, and how to avoid them in the future, here’s some helpful advice.

Contact your electricity provider

Before you go into full panic mode, check the meter reading on your bill against the reading on your meter. It may have been estimated incorrectly or recorded inaccurately. If this is the case, contact your provider and have the bill adjusted.

If the reading is correct and paying it off immediately is not a realistic option, you can call your provider and ask about an extension or payment plan. This could save you paying overdue fees and interest charges.

Adjust your budget

An unexpectedly large bill usually requires some reshuffling of your budget in the short term. Pull together a complete list of upcoming bills and estimated expenses for the period leading up to your power bill’s due date.

Next, you may want to list any income you’re expecting to come in during that time and compare this against your expenses. This tally will allow you to identify and plan for any potential problems ahead of time. It may mean requesting extensions on some other bills for a week or two to avoid overdue fees and charges.

Reduce your electricity costs

Save yourself from big bills in the future by looking at changes you can make now. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your power usage and electricity costs:

Find the right contract for you: If you’re not sure whether your current contract is offering you the right deal for your usage needs, it can be a good idea to compare different providers.

Take advantage of smart meter technology: Smart meters differ to traditional meters by automatically recording your power usage and sending the readings to your service provider. Smart meters also allow you to elect a ‘time of use’ electricity offer – meaning your power costs will be cheaper at certain times of day. This can be a great money saver if you can reduce your electricity use during peak times.

Get everyone in the household involved: Discuss what the higher bill means for the budget in the short term (this might mean going without Friday take-out or weekend activities for a while). To avoid future big bills, ask everyone to come up with ways they can reduce their personal power use.

Switch off appliances at the wall: Many appliances still use some power even if you’re not actively using them.

In the kitchen: Drop energy usage by checking your fridge seals are intact and buying food every few days instead of weekly. This uses less power to keep items refrigerated. Also, only use the dishwasher for full loads.

In the laundry and bathroom: Reduce power consumption by taking shorter showers, using the cold wash function on your washing machine (again, wait for full loads), and using the washing line instead of the dryer.

Bill shock isn’t a pleasant experience, but with a little planning, you can get your bill paid off and prevent any more surprises coming your way. Who knows, you might even start to save money by changing your family’s power consumption habits.

Disclaimer: iSelect does not compare all energy providers or plans in the market. The availability of plans will change from time to time. Not all plans made available from iSelect providers are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements or availability, not all products compared by iSelect will be available to all customers. Some plans and special offers are available only from iSelect’s call centre. Other plans are available only from iSelect’s website. Energy plans are available only for properties located in eligible areas of Victoria, New South Wales, South East Queensland, South Australia and ACT. Click here to iSelect’s range of providers.
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