The shock of opening a power bill to find it’s much higher than expected can cause a terrible amount of stress, especially if budgets are tight. Here are a few reasons your bill may be higher than expected, and a few actions you can take to avoid future surprises.

Household factors that could cause bill shock

  • Seasonal variations: Temperature extremes throughout the year can have a significant impact on your energy bill, especially if you live in one of the cooler states as heating can easily account for over 30% of an average energy bill.
  • House design: If you’ve just moved into an older property you may find your power bills increase as the structure is less efficient. Similarly, if your home doesn’t take advantage of any natural temperature transfer throughout the year, you may find you require artificial heating and cooling to compensate, pushing up the power bill.
  • Lifestyle: Changes to your lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on your power bill. Changes such as having a baby, moving in with a partner, or even beginning to work from home can all have a substantial effect on your power usage.
  • Incorrect billing: Most meter readings are still conducted by a real person, and mistakes can be made. If you’re concerned that your bill is based on an incorrect reading, check your energy meter and give your retailer a call.

External factors that affect the price of power

  • Inflation: One cause of price increases is economic inflation. The government generally aims to have the value of all goods and services increase by 2-3% per year, so your power bill may increase proportionately. However, your wages may not necessarily increase in line with this.
  • Infrastructure: As most of your power is generated a great distance from the wall sockets, there is a cost in transporting the energy to your home. This bill is picked up by the distributors, who pass it onto the retailers, who add it to your bill.
  • Government influence: Various government programs to reduce carbon emissions and encourage investment in renewable energy resources have been both blamed and celebrated for changing energy prices. The competition between providers keeps prices relatively low, but because there is only a single distribution network, government regulation helps to maintain economic viability of that network while keeping prices affordable.

What can you do to avoid bill shock?

Keeping a careful watch on your energy usage is the best thing you can do to avoid bill shock. After all, it can’t surprise you if you’re paying attention to it! That aside, here are some practical measures you should consider to keep costs down.

  • Make your home more efficient: If you suspect your home is the reason behind your bill shock, it could be a good idea to see if there are any ways to improve its energy efficiency (e.g. installing better insulation). This can be tricky if renting, but some landlords may see energy-saving products as a worthwhile investment.
  • Check your appliances: Perhaps you’ve just invested in a new Smart TV, or have the air conditioner running throughout the day, which may be pushing your power bill up. Being aware of the appliances you are running, and how often they are sucking power is a good way to combat bill shock. If this could be you, turning your appliances off at the wall when not in use could make a significant difference.
  • Install energy tracking devices: A Home Energy Meter is a device that clips to your smart meter and transmits energy data wirelessly to a separate display in your home, showing your hourly, daily and monthly electricity usage. For real-time energy tracking, this is a valuable tool indeed.
  • Speak to your provider: If you’re struggling to pay a higher sum every quarter, it could be a good idea to request a shorter billing period. Additionally, you may find it easier to pay a fixed amount on every bill based on previous consumption, so the peak usage months are averaged over the year.

Compare providers and switch

If you’re consistently spending more than expected, it could be time to compare providers and think about switching. Energy retailers are highly competitive and regularly advertise new ways to provide their customers with a good deal: start the ball rolling by comparing here.