Learn Reading bills

Why Read Bills?

There is a lot of information on a water, gas or electricity bill – but the information is useless if you can’t understand what it all means.

Many of us can confidently read two crucial pieces of information on utility bills – the amount due, and the due date.

However, the rest of the information is also useful – it allows us to understand what we’re being asked to pay for, and gives us the chance to pick up mistakes, when they happen, and get them corrected.

Information on a bill includes:

  • the name and postal address of the account holder
  • the address of the premises where the utility is connected. This is not always the same as the postal address, and the difference can be important – sometimes, people can be mistakenly billed for the wrong premises. Check this carefully if the address is in units or in a recent redevelopment.
  • the meter numbers. You should be able to find matching numbers on the actual meters at the premises. This is another item to check carefully when there are multiple units in a block – occasionally, neighbours’ meters can get muddled up in the system.

Bills also include information about how much electricity, gas or water was used, and the billing period in which the utility was used. This is really useful for picking up on efficiency, wastage, and seasonal changes in use – a household with gas or electric heating could expect to use more in winter than in spring and autumn. Electricity and water bills include some information that compares the bill’s usage level to the “average customer” in the area (gas bills will soon include this too) – this allows each customer to get an idea of whether they use more or less than similar households. Research shows that this can help to motivate people to use less than their neighbours do.

On how to read bills, go to our pages on electricity bills and gas bills.