Estimating Your Bill
What is bill shock?
Bill shock occurs when you receive a bill that is higher than you were expecting. This can be caused by many factors, including
- You used more energy than you thought you did
- Your meter recorded a higher than normal read due to a gas leak or faulty appliance
- You receive a bill covering a longer than normal billing period
- Your previous bill was underestimated because an actual meter read couldn't be taken
Can an estimate read cause bill shock?
As an energy retailer we sometimes rely on estimate reads rather than actual reads. Estimates are a mathematical guess based on your previous usage data. The longer we go without receiving an actual read, the harder it is to estimate accurately. This is why enabling ongoing access to your meter is very important.
Let's say you usually use 100 units of gas every month of the year, except during Winter (June-August) when you use 300 units of gas per month.
The meter company responsible for reading your meter would send us the following actual reads indicating use of 100 units each month:
- Actual: January 8100
- Actual: February 8200
- Actual: March 8300
- Actual: April 8400
- Actual: May 8500
But let's say the meter company couldn't access your meter during June or July. Based on your previous usage data, we would estimate that you continued to use 100 units in June and July, so our estimate would be:
- Estimate: June 8600 (in reality the true read should be 8800)
- Estimate: July 8700 (in reality the true read should be 9100)
- Actual: August 9400
Let's imagine you pay $1 per unit of gas for the purposes of this example. This means you would be billed $100 each month for June and July, even though in reality you should have been billed $300 each month.
By the time we receive the actual read from the meter company in August, it would show a true read of 9400. However, since you've only been billed on a previous estimate of 8700, your new bill shows an amount owing of $700.
If we've underestimated your bill in the past, please let us know. We understand this can cause a shock and we can set up a manageable payment plan for you to help you get back on track.
What if an estimate is wrong?
We take care to estimate as accurately as possible, but estimates can vary. However your bill will always even out when the next actual meter read is done. Any incorrect estimate would either be a bit lower or higher that it should be, but once the next actual read is done, we immediately adjusted your account with the actual read to ensure that you only pay for the energy you've used.
Example; imagine the last three monthly reads on your meter were 8200, 8300, 8400. That means you used 100 units every month for three months. Let's imagine you pay $1 per unit. You should be billed for $100 each month. This equals $300 for all three months together. However; imagine your second month's read was overestimated incorrectly, and we used an estimate read of 8350. You would have been billed like this: 100 units in month one, 150 units in month two, but only 50 units in month three. This still equals $300 for all three months together.
We’ve created a couple of simple videos to illustrate how your gas meter works, and how bills are estimated.