The quarterly fear: Your electricity bill

A sponsored post for Origin Energy


Much like most “proper” grown up things in life like insurances, or mortgages or stuff like that, I tend to put my head in the sand when it comes to bills and especially our energy bill. It’s not the best option to take I will admit, but my eyes glaze over, my heart races when I see my electricity bill in the mail and I reluctantly pay that bill because it’s just what you have to do. Like buying those stupid 4 tyres for my car this week and rolling $1000 without a second glance. It’s a grudge purchase. We have been thinking about getting solar power since we moved here over 4 years ago, and that’s as far as I have got. I’ve THOUGHT about it. I have heard so many wonderful stories from people about it and yet? Nothing from me. It’s in the too hard basket and I would rather go bake a cake or even do my bloody BAS than start to investigate further. Who’s the idiot now?

Recently I was asked to go to the Origin offices in Sydney…they wanted to get in front of some bloggers to explain how they are changing the way they do business. Riveting no? It was, in fact, quite interesting and I am slowly getting my head out of the sand and into reality.

Every quarter our bill arrives in the mail and EVERY time my heart quickens and I feel a little woozy. EVERY TIME. While we don’t have air conditioning or heating that costs a fortune to run, we still use many appliances and I still leave most plugs in and on because, like I said, my head is in the sand with this stuff.


Our bill sits around the $500- $600 per quarter. And I have NO idea if that is good or bad for a family of 4. See also: head, sand. Our hot water is electric, we have gas central heating that we use in the winter in the mornings but it costs a bloody fortune to run (we have a big gas bottle that gets filled by a tank each fortnight and if we let it run full time that would mean a full refill each time at about $500 a fortnight! NO thank you!).

  • We use lamps rather than overhead halogen lights.
  • I do the clothes washing in cold water on a quick cycle. Always hang the washing on the line rather than use the dryer.

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  • I make the family use blankets on the couches in winter and wear jumpers and socks and when we moved here we had to start using things like wool and natural WARMING fibres that never really needed a run in Sydney to keep warm.

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  • We use the fire in winter, and thankfully in summer, just open windows and fans on really hot days.

I don’t know if what we do is good or bad, it’s just what we do.

Some things that I didn’t know that I learnt with Origin:

  • Origin Energy is an Australian company, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Unlike other energy companies that you would think are Australian, but in fact are Chinese.
  • You can choose green energy on your bill to use 100% renewable sources rather than the traditional coal based power that we all use (most power still comes mostly from coal almost 74% in fact). It’s a simple switch you can make on your bill which will cost you a set amount per month to do so.
  • You may have access to off peak times. Told you I was dumb. Shifting electricity use to these low-demand times (like running your dishy after 10pm at night or a pool pump on weekends) may offer savings.
  • I was surprised to learn just how hated energy companies are. They are distrusted by almost everyone. I used to work in financial planning so I know ALL about working in a disliked industry.


Origin have started to make some changes to the way they do business and are trying to listen to people and their complaints. They are extending call centre hours, changing how their bills look to make them easier to read (I still don’t understand them though!) stopping those awful cold calls and door to door sales people knocking on the door at home, that they used for so many years and stopping exit fees for customers.

And for me? Well, I’m going to make it a challenge to open my eyes up to all this a little more. Start to understand my bill and try to make some changes to see if I can make it lower. I’m going to start looking into solar and get that into action. Not leave chargers plugged in, all the time, even with devices not attached (I am SO guilty of this) and just start to get serious about this stuff rather than just pay the bill and hope for the best each quarter.

You can find out more about the changes Origin are making online here.

I’m really interested to know what your family does in this area (as un-interesting as it may be for some).

What’s your quarterly bills look like?
Do you use renewable sources or have solar installed?
Have any tips to reduce the cost of your bill?
How important is knowledge to you when it comes to power?


  1. $500-$600 is GOOD! Our electricity is double that for a family of 4. I wash in cold water, we turn off appliances at the wall, use energy saving globes but we have ducted heating and cooling which is the killer. With our dry heat and run if ridiculously hit days it runs 24/7 I think about solar often too…think 🙂

  2. I wish ours was $500! (rushes around and turns off lights..)

  3. yup I have a mini heart attack everytime the bill comes too but I read my own meter about 3/4 of the way through the quarter to track where we are at……I think the amount for a family differs on where you live and how you use your energy, my family of 4 electricity quarter bill sits about 300 for the warmer months and just hits 400 for winter, essentially we use less energy than we ever have before but with increasing prices the bills get higher through that. Our daily usage sits at a 2 person household but I make sure everything gets turned off at the wall except for essentials

  4. We are pretty energy conscious in that the tv gets turned off each time by the power button on the side, not just standby. Charges, computes etc are all switched off at the point and lights in rooms not being used are off. But in saying that I’m never shy in whacking on a heater and one ran in Van’s room every night this winter with a HeaterMate attachment so it actually switched off at a certain temp rather than onto standby which many do. We have gas cooking and hot water and had our lowest bills ever. $140 for electricity and $120 for gas. I also never hesitate to throw the dryer or dishwasher on either. I think buying energy efficient appliances in the beginning is key. Spend a little more then to reap the rewards later.

  5. Ours is enormous, especially when it doesn’t rain and we’re running the irrigator all the time.
    We have solar for our house power though, and I try to conserve power during the day (when we’re selling it into the grid) and use it at night (when we’re buying it at a cheaper rate.)

  6. Ours is horrendous with a pool pump on year round – less in winter but still on and then ducted A/C during summer but it’s really an essential in Queensland, although the pool does help. The kid’s rooms get to 32C in the afternoon so we need to cool house at bedtime otherwise they just don’t sleep as well!

  7. My bills are pretty low, and like Traci I still prefer the convenience of a heater, air con or dryer when I want it. So try to use less in other ways. My query or irk with green energy as a choice is WHY does it cost more? It’s renewable, unlike coal. I know new infrastructure costs money, but I really feel it is quite the rip off making people pay significantly more for an energy that is coming from the sun or wind. All energy companies could try to encourage this use by lowering the price of green & getting the money via the coal bearing bill payers. Just my 2 cents.

  8. Ours is okay but the weird thing is that it doesn’t seem to change in winter/summer. We’ll use our air con all summer and it’s no different to when we don’t use anything in Spring. Bizarre.

  9. Our bills were going down until the price of electricity started going up. I have bad habits of air con & dryer use but I’m not willing to give them up.

  10. That’s a great price ours is around $1800 a quarter (a little less in spring and autumn). I’ve heard that we pay more in SA but not sure if this is true or not. The swimming pool pump adds a fair bit and I generally spend most times following kids and teenagers and turning off lights, computers etc. looking into solar us confusing and no where near as good as it used to be – would like to sort it out one day though

  11. Our bill is similar to yours even though we are in QLD and run central air con and heating, ceiling fans and a swimming pool. Our house is brand new though and I think that it makes it very efficient in comparison to our previous Queenslander style house with windows that never quite shut properly. One good saving for those with pools is to switch it over to Tariff 33 – off peak electricity. It is restricted from around 6-9am and 4-8pm but still leaves plenty of time to run the filter. It is heaps cheaper and we got a $250 rebate from Origin for switching over.

  12. My bill is always in credit. 32 panels on the roof, no bills. Look into it. All you gotta do is ring the company and they send someone out to look at your bills and they work it all out for you. It was expensive up front, but it will pay itself off in about 6 years, then free power for the next 20 years or so. We are not planning on moving though.

  13. Lisa Mckenzie says

    We got ours on Friday and at $800 it was a good bill ,we have a pool 3 fridges and 4 adults here and no solar,I don’t use the drier very often or the aircon but do when I’m hot,I wash in cold water and we are with origin too.I must admit I do leave things plugged in

  14. Living in Darwin we have shocking power bills owing to the pool pump and my best friend, the air conditioner. Ours comes in at about $1300 a quarter, and while I would love solar it’s not worth it when we are planning to move. We only have 1 power supplier in the NT, if we had more most likely the cost would be less because they couldn’t keep hiking the price when they feel like it. In Jan this year the NT Government increased the cost of power by 43% per year. They said they would slowly introduce the hike in increments to make budgeting easier for people. They are truly thoughtful (insert sarcasm font). They are flogging solar like there’s no tomorrow up here, and while I think it’s a bloody good idea, it shits me to tears that we have to pay twice the price compared to the same product South of the border, simply because of ‘shipping fees’ – which is a whole other load of bull that gets fanned around up here, too!

    • Goodness me…that is some increase! You poor buggers! It’s impossible for you guys with that heat isn’t it? I really feel for you!

  15. Our electricity bill is now $185 for two months, compared to the $360 average we had before we bought 4.5kw of solar panels, which cost us about $4000.00. We live in the Perth Hills so we have LPG bottled gas, about $105 per bottle which lasts us three months (one to two if we use the gas heating). The only thing we use gas for is the cooktop and occasional gas heaters. We also have solar hot water with electrical backup for the winter months. We do have a woodfired heater (which I adore), which we keep going most days (and nights) in winter, so only use gas when it may go out or if we are in the lounge room. Wood is about $200 per tonne. We have just got an outside hot tub which is electric and constantly on, so expecting the electric bills to rise a bit! There is only the three of us but we have a few TV’s, fridges, computers etc. I think you should definitely look into the solar panels, the consultants will work it all out for you, feels good to produce your own electricity, better environmentally and the savings are great, especially in summer!

  16. We’ve been in our new place for a month and a half. One of the first things we did after we moved in was get solar panels. I can’t remember how many we have, and while the initial cost is expensive, my hubby reckons it will take about 2 and a half years to pay off and then we are in the clear. My in laws have had solar for a couple of years and their bills are so ridiculously low that it’s laughable. We are with Origin and have had no complaints. I’d definitely look into solar, Beth, the guy who we dealt with said electricity bills are only going to get more and more expensive.

  17. We love solar. Living in our old house for 3 years (SE Qld) we had solar and a 54 cent rebate! We were either making money in credit or a small bill. I remember getting a bill for 12 cents for a quarter. We have missed it so much in our new house we are getting a System installed tomorrow which will be bigger than the old one and more expensive but will pay for itself in about 2.5-3 years. I don’t plan on moving ever! We get so much great day sun in Qld it is worth it for solar even though we are not getting the bit rebate. Hubby is a real nazi and has set things to turn off in timers. I will not negotiate on the aircon (installed about a week after we moved in!). If you do have solar it is best to run items when you are getting the most sun so middle of the day but this isn’t alwAys practical aka aircon on a hot afternoon/evening. Setting things in timers is a great idea though and of course turn off at the wall, natural sunlight rather than lights etc.
    I always thought it was not so interested too Beth but I think if you can save money that’s more to spend on interested fun things!

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