I'll show you mine if you show me yours: The power of comparing electricity bills


I love opening up my power bill. Love the crackle as I tear open the envelope, the chart, the stories!  And now, for added excitement, there’s a competitive element!  A graph comparing your energy use with other folk in your neighbourhood (names withheld!) to see who holds the energy high-ground*.

Comparing energy bills is my equivent of looking in someones bathroom cabinet!

The little chart on my bill tells me the average energy use for a four person household in summer in Canberra is about 24.4kWh/day.   Ours is below that -  4kW/day - and I'm obsessed, but how much fat could you trim off your energy bill?

My mum and dad are a great example of how low you can go.

Before you go thinking they are some hairy green hippy types living in a old Viscount van with hot water bottles and hand-knitted nose warmers, they are not. They are normal and wonderful folk but certainly not driven by the energy efficiency thing, nor the climate change thing, nor the ‘do it for your grand-children’ thing.  Dad is quite keen on the shiny, latest technology thing.

They’ve recently retired from the farm and bought a 3 bedroom house in town and decided it was time to treat themselves to new appliances after a life-time of getting what they were given.

Knowing my obsession they asked me for a bit of guidance on what to buy. We focused on:

  • appliances - fridge, induction cooktop, dishwasher, washing machine. I pointed Dad in the direction of the great website energyrating.gov.au so he could choose the appliances with the highest star rating, 
  • replacing all the halogen downlights with LED’s,
  • installing a solar hot water system in place of the electric monster and
  • pulling out the old bottled gas heater replacing it with a super-efficient split system unit. 

They’ve just had their first electricity bill. Mum bought it out while we were having a cup of tea. That's what we do.

What I saw made me seriously proud. Tingly proud. They went from a 30Kwh/day household to a 4.6kWh/day household.  Carbon Cops tick of approval!

They’re doing nothing different behaviourally (the drier was tumbling around some damp clothes after several days of damp weather)

They're just doing things much better technologically. They just got the most efficient (and shiny) things for the job.

If you are not going to go green, you can at least go technology. 

It works.


*As part of the National Energy Retail Law and National Energy Retail Rules, electricity retailers must print average or ‘benchmark’ electricity usage figures on residential electricity bills. This is sometimes referred to as ‘bill benchmarking’. Depending on where you live and who your retailer is, this information may be on your electricity bills already. Check out Energy Made Easy for more info.