What is a Utility Bill?

You’ve probably come across the term ‘utility bill’ before and scratched your head. What does it mean and why should you care? In this Canstar Blue guide we run you through the different types of utility bills, what to look out for, as well as how much each bill will cost you on average. If you’re in a rush, skip ahead by clicking on the headings below.

What are Utility Bills?

A utility bill is a detailed invoice for using services generally associated with households. Utility bills, or utilities as they’re commonly known, are issued to customers who use essential services, such as energy, water and sewage. As an example, a utility could refer to a quarterly electricity bill or monthly water charges.

Utility bills usually represent a wide range of ongoing household expenses, so think of it like ‘overheads’ for a business, which are costs set aside to cover a specific service. In Australia, there are normally more utilities related to owning a home or business, including council rates, water and sewage charges.

Types of Utility Bills

There are many types of utility bills, but as a general guide, here are the most common utilities you’ll find in Australia:

  • Electricity: A bill issued by an energy provider for consuming energy and being connected to an electricity grid.
  • Natural gas: A bill sent by a gas supplier for using natural gas and being connected to a gas mains network.
  • LPG: A bill from a gas retailer for restocking or refilling cylinders of LPG gas at a property.
  • Council rates: A rate that’s levied by a council which covers maintenance and improvements to local services.
  • Water: A bill issued by a utilities company for consuming water at a household or business.
  • Sewage: A separate charge on a water bill to cover maintenance of local sewage and stormwater drains.

Although these may not be considered essential services, charges from telecommunications companies for internet and phone services are sometimes referred to as utility bills. However, for people living in remote parts of Australia, these utilities are deemed an essential service.

Utility Bill Sample

Here is an example of a utility bill from Alinta Energy, which is an electricity and gas provider operating across New South Wales, Victoria, south east Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. This particular utility bill sample is an electricity invoice from Alinta Energy. As you’ll see, it outlines the total payable amount, a due date, plus other relevant details specific to this customer’s service address.

Alinta Energy Utility Bill Sample

Average Utility Bills in Australia

You might be shocked by how much utility bills vary in price around the country, which is why we’ve done some of the legwork for you. While these are a great reference point to see what the average utility bill looks like, our findings are a general guide only. Other factors that impact bills include your location, how much power or water you use, the size of your home, and various other personal circumstances.

What is the average electricity bill?

If there’s one utility that’s almost impossible to escape paying, it’s electricity. Recent data from a Canstar Blue survey revealed the average electricity bill in Australia differs in price according to each state. Below are the average quarterly electricity bills for households of all sizes reported by survey respondents:

  • Victoria: $253
  • Queensland: $310
  • New South Wales: $355
  • South Australia: $361

According to our findings, it seems that customers in Melbourne and Brisbane pay less for electricity than those in Sydney and Adelaide.

What is the average gas bill?

Natural gas is another utility that can quickly bust budgets, particularly if customers don’t compare gas prices regularly. A recent Canstar Blue survey uncovered that the average gas bill costs much more depending on location. This could be as a result of lifestyle factors or a difference in gas rates. Here’s the average quarterly gas bill according to each state:

  • Western Australia: $108
  • Queensland: $172
  • New South Wales: $184
  • Victoria: $186
  • South Australia: $223
  • Australian Capital Territory: $295
  • Tasmania: $367

As you can see, there’s a massive difference between what households in Perth pay on average compared to those in Hobart.

What is the average water bill?

Water is a resource many of us take for granted until we have to pay for it. This type of utility bill comes in all shapes and sizes due to a range of factors. But as a way of a general guide, we asked water-paying Australians how much they pay on average per quarter. Here are the average water bills in each state:

  • Western Australia: $234
  • New South Wales: $246
  • Victoria: $259
  • Queensland: $300
  • South Australia: $324
  • Tasmania: $365

Much like natural gas, our findings revealed that customers in Tasmania pay the most for water, while those in NSW and WA pay much less.

How to Save on Utility Bills

Now you know what a utility bill is, how can you drive these unavoidable costs down? Well contrary to what your neighbour may have told you, saving on utilities is usually easier than you think. It will, however, require a bit of patience and homework on your behalf, such as comparing utility companies for services like electricity and gas.

For energy, it’s all about getting familiar with your bills and understanding your usage habits. From here, you’ll be able to see which providers offer plans and rates that suit your lifestyle. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many deals are available to you in your area by dedicating just a few minutes of your time.

Unfortunately for council and water utility bills, rates are usually set in stone, and you won’t be able to ask for a better price or deal. Still, there are ways to better manage your water costs, like cutting back on showers and using water-efficient appliances.

Compare Utility Prices for Energy

Energy bills are one of the biggest utilities for households, so it’s important to compare providers on a regular basis. Given that electricity prices change all the time, it’s always good to know what deals are on offer in your state. Check them out below and start comparing today!

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Image credits: panuwat phimpha/Shutterstock.com, Alinta Energy

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