Why is my bill higher than usual?

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The vast majority of Amber customers save significantly with the wholesale model over the course of a year. However, we understand the shock you might experience if you receive a bill that seems higher than usual! This FAQ will take you through the things to check on your invoice that contribute to a higher total.

If you need help with understanding your bill and the specific charges or information, we have a handy visual guide here.

There was a price spike during the billing month

During times where there is reduced capacity, volatility or disruptions in the market, price spikes can occur which send the wholesale price is around ~$19/kWh (inc. GST) throughout most of Australia, and $21/kWh in SA (inc. GST). Prices this high are generally rare and generally only occur for a few hours, however it's important to manage your usage during this time to avoid a high bill. 

Most spikes only last 1-2 hours. The best thing you can do minimise costs during a spike is to shift energy intensive activities earlier or later during the day if it's possible for you. Energy intensive activities include cooking, heating and cooling, and washing. We've got more info in our article Why do price spikes happen and how long do they last.

It pays to know when price spikes occur - Amber will notify you through the app and via SMS when they do occur, just be sure to enable notifications for the Amber app. You can find out more in How will you warn me about price spikes. In any case, Amber protects you through Amber's Quarterly Bill Guarantee, where we guarantee that over the course of each quarter you'll never pay more than our Bill Guarantee rates on average for your usage, or we will credit you the difference.

Your billing period is longer than usual

If you have a smart meter, you should be receiving monthly bills. However, if you've recently had a smart meter installed, or your meter coordinator has any troubles in receiving your data, your billing period could be longer than usual which would result in a higher bill than expected.

You can check the billing period on the ‘Your Simple Bill’ page.

You've used more energy

During the colder months of the year, home energy usage tends to increase. If you've simply been home more often than usual or had more people staying than usual, your usage will naturally be higher. If you have a smart meter and would like to take a deeper look at your usage patterns, you can export your usage data to investigate further. You can check your total usage in kWh for each of your meter channels on the ‘Charges - Detailed Breakdown’ page.

Typically, the culprits for higher usage are devices such as:

Your average rate is higher

There are a few reasons why your average wholesale rate could be higher in any given billing period.

The wholesale price is based on supply and demand, so it fluctuates throughout the day. If you are using more energy during ‘peak’ times, when demand on the grid is high, this will likely bring your average rate up. We recommend load shifting to cheaper times if you can to offset and avoid these higher charges. You can check your usage and the price for the last 30 days from the usage tab in the Amber app.

The wholesale rate is also generally seasonal, being cheaper in summer (lots of supply, low demand) and higher in winter (more demand, lower supply). Typically we will see prices increase during the winter months, though over the course of 12 months the wholesale rate is competitive and offset by summer prices.

The easiest way to check whether this is the case is to check your average cost/kWh on the 'Charges Summary' section of your bill, though this is broken down further on the Charges - Detailed Breakdown’ page.

Your previous bills are unpaid

If you open your bill and see that the 'Opening Balance' section has a value, this means that your previously issued bill(s) has not been paid (in part or in full), causing the balance to roll over. You’ll also be able to see an up to date balance in the billing tab of the Amber app.

If your bills have not been direct debited, we'd recommend checking your payment details in the Amber app to ensure that they are up to date so that our direct debit attempts can be successful going forward. Our bill also shows your BPAY details on page 1, if you’d like to pay manually.

You are on a demand tariff

A demand charge is applied for customers who are currently on a demand tariff. These are charges passed on from your network, and are calculated based on your peak demand (in kW) for the billing period. If you are on a demand tariff, you can see this charge on the ‘Charges - Detailed Breakdown’ page. Essentially, the more appliances used during the demand period, the higher the demand - and the higher the demand, the higher the charge. We have a more detailed breakdown of demand tariffs here.

Your feed-in tariff is lower than usual

If you have solar, your feed-in tariff may be a contributing factor to your bill. Like the wholesale price for general usage, Amber also passes through wholesale FiT. The wholesale FiT is similar to general usage, being lower in summer and higher in winter. If you want to see if your household is a good fit for Amber with solar, check out our FAQ here.

Managing your balance with Amber

Here at Amber, it's important to us that our customers feel supported and empowered with us. So if any of the above reasons don't appear to be the case for your higher bill, or you simply have any further questions for us regarding your bills, please reach out to us.

It is important to note we have a bill guarantee, which you can read more about here.

Additionally, we also have flexible payment options & our hardship program available for all our customers. Whether you are experiencing financial strain, or simply would like to enquire about flexible payment options to manage your balance, please feel welcome in reaching out to our friendly support team.

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