How To Read Your NZ Power Bill

Oct 4, 2021
By Staff writer


We get our power bills regularly, but with all the details, not everyone has the time to read everything but the total amount. When was the last time you actually took a good look at your electric bill?

Now that the majority is spending more time at home, bills are expected to increase.

To curb this, it's time to learn how to read your power bill so you save money for the long term, and learn how to reduce your energy consumption.

Understand what power plan you're on

The first step to understanding your power bill is to know your power plan. Are you being charged for monthly usage or are you on a "controlled" or budget plan? If you're charged every month, you'll receive a power bill every cycle for the total number of kWh your household used that month.

Read: What is the Average Power Bill in New Zealand?

What is a kWh?

Understanding what a kWh is will help you read your bills better. A kilowatt-hour is the unit of measurement used to measure the amount of electricity you use. It's two measurements in one — speed and time, wherein wattage measures how fast you use the electricity, and time measures how long you consume said electricity at that speed. 1 kWh is equivalent to 1,000 watts. To help you understand it better, here are some examples of what kWh looks like in real terms:

1 kWh is equivalent to:

  • Brewing 12 pots of coffee
  • Cooling a room with an AC for one hour
  • Using a 60-watt light bulb from morning til night
  • Charging your phone 2 hours daily over the course of one month


Know your billing system

Electricity bills may differ depending on your country and power provider. Some power providers offer bundle plans which may include electricity, water, and gas. If you're in a bundle plan, the easiest way to see your bill for each utility is by checking the units. Electricity is measured in kWh, the water bill is measured in gallons, and gas usage is measured in BTUs.

What you’ll see on your bill:

  • Account Summary

Your account summary shows you the total balance you have to pay as well as the due date.

  • Read Type

This indicates whether your bill is based on an Actual or Estimate read.

  • Plan Details

This section shows you the benefits (Standard/Low User plan, Price Protection, Transparent Billing, SmoothPay, etc.) of choosing your power provider's plan.

  • kWh History

The graph shows your kWh history and your electricity usage over a certain period. You will also see which months were based on Actual readings and which months’ were Estimates.

Read: What Causes Power Outages In New Zealand?

  • Metering Details

Your meter information is important, so you know how to compute and compare your electricity consumption. In this section, you'll see the date the meter was read, and your current and previous meter readings. This lets you see the difference between your previous and current meter readings, which is the number of kWh of power you consumed in the billing period.

You will see an ICP number which is assigned by your Lines Network to help identify each metering point on your property system. Under metering details, you will also see a graph that shows a breakdown of the charges that make up your bill.

  • Energy, Delivery and Other Fees

On your electric bill, you will see an outline of your electricity usage (exclusive of GST) and it is divided into three sections (Energy, Delivery, Special Fees & Promotions) so you can easily know what exactly you're paying for.

Energy What your power provider charges you for your electricity

This includes charges related to the delivery of your electricity,  Network Charges, Metering, Billing and Administration, and the Electricity Authority Levy

Special Fees & Promotion This includes any promotional credits or fees on your account

Other information you’ll see on your bill:

Know the charges that make up your final cost

Your power bill is composed of different parts which make up the total cost you'll have to pay. Apart from the energy costs, Kiwis must pay an Electricity Authority Levy which helps fund the Electricity Authority to regulate NZ's electric industry.

  • Wholesale Costs (Generation)

The wholesale cost is the cost you pay for purchasing electricity.

  • Transmission and Distribution

The transmission and distribution make up 37.5% of your bill and is responsible for the building and maintenance of the power lines that transport electricity from where it is generated to the houses. This cost is paid by your power provider and the regional lines companies.

  • Retail

This cost is what power retailers charge their customers for providing electricity and services to them.

  • GST

GST or Goods and Services Tax (15%) makes up 13% of the total power bill price.

  • Metering and Other Charges

Sometimes, you'll see a separate section on your bill, indicating other charges, which may include a bond, debt management fees, disconnection fees, reconnection fees, or meter test fees.

  • Daily Fixed Charge

The first element of your bill is a daily fixed charge which is the amount that covers the costs of generating and transporting electricity from its source to your households.

  • Variable Charges

This is the rate you pay for power multiplied by the number of kWh you use. There are many ways you can influence your variable costs such as spot price contracts which allows you to buy power at the time you use it. With spot price, you have the leverage wherein you can lessen your use of electricity during peak times, and use most of your appliances such as dishwashers and dryers during off-peak times.

That way, you get to pay less than the retail market rate for your electricity. 

Another way to save is by choosing a low-user tariff if you're living in a small household or you can also opt for a "controlled plan". A "controlled plan" means some of your appliances are connected to a meter that will only supply power at certain times each day.

Read: Why Are NZ Power Prices Going Up?

Calculate your total cost of electricity in a month

Break down your bill to a metric where you can easily compare your energy consumption to its costs. The easiest way to do so is to measure your consumption rate similar to how your provider measures it. Generally, it's done on a monthly usage basis. You can divide your total electricity bill by the total number of kWh you used in the month. This simple calculation will let you know how much your electricity is.

Understanding your power bill helps you know whether your current power plan is too expensive for you, or if it doesn't match your needs. Make it a habit to use glimp's FREE comparison tool to find the best plan for you!

Start comparing today and catch exclusive deals from leading Power providers!

Shane Egan (Popup) , 2023-07-10

Excellent service. Responsive and easy to deal with. Got me an awesome deal on Broadband. Well worth calling to see what they can do. 👍

Jamie Martin , 2023-06-18

Really great service, helped us save about 30% on power plus a free $100 sign up bonus. Very fast and efficient.

Kat W , 2023-06-20

Very helpful and informative. Lovely chatting with them on the phone, helped me find a power supplier, pretty simple and straight forward

Dee Painter , 2023-08-08

So easy to use, very helpful and got a great deal with my power and gas