Cost of Living in Australia: Electricity

by BobinOz on September 8, 2009

in Cost of Living - Australia

So far in this series about the cost of living in Australia, we have looked at four different areas of expense: petrol, groceries, house prices and electrical goods; and compared them with their equivalent costs in England.

The fifth blog post in this series was not really a comparison but more about the nosedive of the British pound against the Aussie dollar. So let’s take a look at the score so far:

Australia 2 (Scorers: petrol and house prices)
England   0

NB. Groceries and electricals were a draw.

Today we are going to look at electricity. Except of course you can’t look at electricity, there is just nothing to see! But you can look at the meter…..

 Cost of Living in Australia: Electricity

An Electric Meter

So, who has the cheapest electric?

England

First, I had to check out the price of electricity in England. Finding out how much 1 kWh costs is not a simple task. Everybody wants you to put in your postcode, your current electricity supplier, how much you use each quarter, what tariff you’re on blah, blah, blah…..

But, in the interest of research, I did it. The particular UK electricity supplier who I went through then asked me which tariff I would like to be on? I had this choice…….

Standard MDD Electricity
6% Tracker Electricity Monthly Direct Debit
Click 1 Electricity
Click 2 Electricity
Click 3 Electricity
Click 4 Electricity
Click 5 Electricity
Click 6 MDD Electricity
Discounted Energy Electricity
Fixed Price 2011 MDD Electricity
Fixed Price 2012 Electricity
Future Energy MDD Electricity
Market Tracker Electricity
Price Cap 2010 Electricity Monthly Direct Debit
Price Guarantee Dec09 Electricity
Price Protection 2010 Electricity Monthly DD
Price Protection Apr09 Electricity Monthly DD
Price Protection Dec09 Electricity Monthly DD
Track and Save 2011 Elec Monthly Direct Debit
Websaver 1 Electricity Monthly Direct Debit
Websaver 2 Electricity Monthly Direct Debit
Websaver 3 Electricity Monthly Direct Debit
Websaver 4 Electricity Monthly Direct Debit

Crikey! It’s worse than going to Starbucks for a coffee!

Anyway, I left it on the default setting which was Standard MDD Electricity. At last, I got my cost of electricity which was 8.490p per kWh.

Australia

Here in Australia, we don’t seem to have as many tariffs. In fact, unless you are a farmer and/or involved in land irrigation, there are really only three tariffs to look at.

Domestic
Super Economy Plan
Economy Plan

When comparing prices it only makes sense when you compare like-for-like. With this particular cost of living exercise that is sure going to be difficult. Firstly and primarily, but I don’t think I have enough time left in my life to understand all 23 plans offered by the above UK supplier. What worries me is, supposing those tariffs are unique to that particular supplier and all the other suppliers have their own unique tariffs?

Well! That would be confusing.

The Australian tariffs were slightly easier to understand in so much as the economy plan tariffs were simple night rate tariffs that could be connected to certain appliances, namely your water heaters and swimming pool filters and some permanently connected freezers. So it’s similar to Economy 7 as I remember it, from back in the UK.

Anyway, forgetting the economy plans the cost for domestic electricity (what I pay) here in Australia is 17.13c per kwh.

Therefore England equals 8.49p per kWh.
……And Australia equals 17.13c per kWh.

But the UK has 5% VAT on domestic fuels whilst Australia’s has 10% GST added. The exchange rate is currently 1.9112 Australian dollars to the Great British pound so the winner is (where’s my calculator) ………

England!

Yes, English electricity is 1.805608 cents per kilowatt hour cheaper than electricity in Australia. That’s equivalent to 9.58238%. But don’t take my word for it, check the maths.

So, England wins!

Well normally, yes. Until, that is, I present this further evidence.

When I last lived in England the annual bills for running our four-bedroom house (two thirds the size of this Australian house) which used both gas and electricity (we have no gas in my current home here) was £1,320 per annum.

That’s not a guess, I kept records over a five-year period and averaged it out in order to iron out any extra cold winters etc. Yes, that’s the sort of person you are dealing with here.

I clearly do not have five years worth of records to average out here in Australia, but I can tell you that my energy bills for the whole house to year end August 2009 was $2,431.00. Using the same current exchange rate that equals £1271.98.

Both of those amounts include all the VAT or GST charges and any standard charges added on. I don’t know what the UK currently adds but we have a “Service to Property” charge and most bizarrely a “Community Ambulance Cover” charge.

But the bottom line is my energy costs here in Australia have worked out to be £49 a year cheaper than they were back in England two years ago.

So now who wins? I think you know what’s coming, don’t you? Under the rules of the cost of living game I must declare it a draw if it is too close to call. (Precedents already set with groceries and electricals). Yes, electricity is cheaper in England but because it is warmer here in Australia we just don’t seem to use as much of it. And if the pound were to recover from its current dismal low and get back to somewhere, anywhere above 2.1 Aussie dollars to the pound, then electricity would be cheaper here.

Yes, it’s a draw.

Footnote: In the USA, a kWh is 11.86c (USA). No tax as far as I could see. That’s less than 14c. If America were in this series, I think they might just be five –  nil up at this stage.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex December 14, 2009 at 11:29 am

Hello Bob,

I just stumbled across your website and I wanted to thank you for the work you’re doing. I’m a Venezuelan who lived in the USA from 1997-2002, then in Greece from 2002-today, and now I’m moving to Adelaide, SA, in March.

Needless to say, it’s been a pain in the neck to find logical and easy-to-understand cost-of-living statistics.

That was until I landed here.

Thank you.

Reply

BobinOz December 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Hi Alex

Glad you are enjoying my site. Sounds like you have lived in some beautiful areas of the world, it would be interesting to hear how Australia compares with where you have been.

Nobody has ever called my cost of living posts “logical and easy-to-understand” before – so that’s a comment I might cut out and keep.

Good luck in Adelaide, let me know how it goes.

Cheers

Bob

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German680 June 11, 2010 at 1:10 am

Wow it has taken me ages too find out how much per Mwh it costs in Australia.

But with the new increase of electricity i think Britain will win unfortunately, But the point of it being allot colder allot longer in Britain is why you used so much electricity is a good point.

So by your calculations (17.13c per kWh) it costs me 17.13c too run my computer for 8 hrs lol. Well at your calculations but i will find the average price soon. Well it is costing me $187 a year too run my comm and thats if i leave it on 24/7 7 days a year 362 days 8766 hrs lol.

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BobinOz June 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Well, if I’m not mistaken, I now believe that electricity prices vary from state to state. I haven’t looked into it properly yet, but I saw an item on the news saying the Queensland government have just agreed an 11% increase to this years prices which means electric here has gone up 50% in four years in this state!

So if I were you, I’d find the off button for your PC real fast. I’m looking for mine right now. LOL!

Anyone know the prices in other states?

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Rosco February 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

We in oz are copping some large increases in electricity from 2010 to 2012. In fact in WA the increases are meant to make the users pay the real cost and not the subsidized costs for electricity production. Our increase could be up by as much as 40% over 3 years.
The current unit cost is 18.93 cents/kwh.

My annual cost last year was $1182. We have put some plans into reducing the electric costs and our electric account for 2011 is likely to be around $1400. It’s amazing how much you can save by turning off lights and limiting the air con zones etc.

Good luck to all.

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BobinOz March 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Well it is quite shocking how the price of electricity does go up here. Horrific even. I wrote a post here about soaring electricity prices. Not pretty reading whichever state you live in.

Maybe I should have bought some solar panels?

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German680 March 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Yeah, With the implementation of Carbon tax it will go up again along with fuel and everything ells,

Thinking it’s time to think about not having kids, Wouldn’t want them living in a world like this lol, It’s only getting worse…

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BobinOz March 3, 2011 at 1:09 am

Not having kids is a bit drastic, I would think. They are a lot of fun.

Carbon tax, what a joke! What will they think of next? Oh, I know, maybe they’ll come up with a tax on children. Then we’ll all be thinking about not having kids.

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David Sadleir June 19, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hi Bob!.
Love the site. I’m in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here’s a breakdown of my last electricity bill. It gets very hot here, so in the summer my 4 bedroom house is over $300 per month for electricity to operate. (1713 square feet)
783 KWH x .11873 cents $92.97 elec. consumption
783 KWH x .00345 cents 2.70 cr. deferred elec. adj
783 KWH x .00078 cents .61 temp. green power fin
783 KWH x .0014300 cents 1.12 renewable energy prg
8.00 basic service charge
5.00 local gv. fee
783 KWH x .0003900 .31 univ energy chg.

I hope this helps.

Reply

BobinOz June 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Thanks David, good information. It looks cheap to what we’d be paying here. It may actually be amazingly cheap, but I can’t really work it out. You have more tariffs than I could shake a stick at!

My bills for a similar sized house are between $700 and $800 a quarter and I don’t ever put the air conditioning on. We just leave all the windows open and make use of the (usually) gentle easterly winds.

In July this year, our price per kilowatt hour goes up to around 21c (from 17c). Wonderful!

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Greig July 7, 2011 at 7:02 am

Hi Bob

Love the work you do, genius stuff. I will be moving to Sydney in the next 3 months. Petrified Ill be worse off there than I am here. At least I will have the sunshine Hey !!

I live in a new 2 bedroom apartment with Gas heated water and central heating and electric for cooking. The flat is very well insulated do hardly use the central heaintg. My total bill for the last 12 months

Gas 5089 kWh – £287.00
Elec 3204 kWh – £406.29
at current exchange rate that is $1039 dollars.
Total £693.00

Reply

BobinOz July 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Hi Greig

Well, I don’t get called the genius every day, so thanks for that!

And thanks for your power bill breakdown, interesting to note that your total bills were just over half of mine. As you live in a two bed apartment and I live in a large four bed detached house, that seems rather fair. And pretty much confirms that there is little difference between our two countries when it comes to these utility bills.

Cheers

Bob

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David Sadleir January 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hi Bob:
Great comparison! People need to understand real costs. I lived in Las Vegas for 25 years, where the electricity rate is around $11.86 per kwh. We did have a few extra taxes on that but $11.86 is a good number. My hot water heater, clothes dryer and stove were all gas. My electric bill for the year was around $2500 pa., and I had a 1718 square foot home, with insulation and double glazed windows. Why, because it’s in a very hot desert, where it gets, with no exageration 46 degress C or 116 F for a long period. So, it depends where you live and your electric needs. As you can see the Las vegas electric rates are considerably cheaper but I had a higher annual bill.
By the way, I did not abuse power use to run up a $2500 pa bill. That’s just the way it is.

David

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BobinOz January 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

It’s lucky electricity prices are cheaper than normal there. I remember driving through the middle of nowhere towards Las Vegas at around midnight about five years ago. I was still a good 80 or 100 miles away from my destination when I became aware of a bright glow in the sky far away.

“That can’t be Vegas, I’m too far away, must be some kind of alien spaceship” I thought. But it was Vegas and that light just got brighter and brighter. The final road driving into the city was like approaching several million decorated Christmas trees. A truly amazing sight.

Anyway, thanks for the info David and yes, your electricity bill sounds very reasonable. I’m in a similar sized home here and my bills are now closer to $3200 p/a.

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Phos.... April 5, 2012 at 6:58 am

Just now stumbled across your blog after having a discussion with an internet mate who lives near Toronto on Lake Macquarie, NSW. He was saying how he needs to shut down his PowerMacs because their 1000W power supplies suck so much power. My research tells me that the power supply may be rated to output a max of 1000W, but that they likely NEVER do. A max of 200w current draw is more likely, and that’s grinding everything on his system at full bore.

But my point is the same as yours at he top of your article, i.e.: it’s a bit difficult finding out how much electricity costs per Kwh. Here in Pennsylvania, USA, it was pretty easy…mine is currently just under US$0.07/Kwh.

Here are my calculations for what it would cost to run his PowerMac G5, and what I explained to him:

>>>…Lets say it averages out to 150 W of draw… and I think that’s the high side of an estimate. Tried to find energy prices for NSW in AU¢-per-Kwh, but couldn’t. Here, it’s about 7¢ per Kwh. So, using those values:

150W × 6.7 hours = 1 Kwh = $0.07
24 hours ÷ 6.7 = 3.6, 3.6Kwh × $0.07 = $0.25 per day electricity
$0.25 × 30 days = $7.50/month electricity usage.

So as you see, even under a full load 24 hours a day, energy cost here would only add up to less than US$10.00 per month.

In sleep mode, actual energy draw falls to very little. You probably spend more on soda pop per day (last you reported, a minimum of 3 per day, right?) than to run your whole system—monitors, speakers, Wacoms & everything.<<>>”How about 3 machines with 1000 watt power supplies… anyway, out electricity price is one of the highest in the world (go figure, we have more coal that anywhere on earth just about, Newcastle is the biggest coal port on earth) so shutting down all our computers has saved us hundreds in power costs per quarter.”<<<

It's really all kind of academic to me…if he wants to shut his systems down, that's fine by me. But I think just putting them to sleep is going to minimize power draw to the point that it's not going to break a regular working guy's budget. And speaking for myself, I rather like just being able to wake my system and be ready to go in an instant when I get to it.

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BobinOz April 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Your maths looks pretty good, but I think you’ll find the electricity prices here in Australia are about treble what you have quoted, so your friend would be looking at about $25-$30 per month to keep his computer running.

Of course, we’d expect him to turn them off at night and also be using sleep mode, so realistically he could probably halve that. So “turning it off and turning it on again” as they say in computer land, probably isn’t worth the effort. Anyway, don’t most appliances use more energy on start up?

Me drink soda pop? You’ve got the wrong guy :-)

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suesewell May 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

How hard is this ? I Googled cost of electricity in UK? and the answer came up 18.5 pence, no problem at all.

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BobinOz May 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Sounds too easy to me. I bet the information didn’t come from an electricity company, was it Yahoo answers?

Anyway, 18.5 pence, that’s quite expensive!

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Ray March 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Here’s a report showing the electric rates in a number of countries, each Australian state and US state4. See the chart on page 11

http://www.euaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/INTERNATIONAL-ELECTRICITY-PRICE-COMPARISON-19-MARCH-2012.pdf

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BobinOz March 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Wow! That’s some report Ray, thanks for the link. The only positive for Australia is we have cheaper electric in Denmark and Germany. That said though, when you look at the chart that adjusts electricity prices for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Australia is about the same as the European Union for electricity costs.

Good stuff, thanks!

Bob

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jack September 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Hello Bob,
im a monkey working in a call center selling solar,
and thanks to your brief knowledge, i learned a lot. i mean all that kw, voltage, blah blah blah. ooh aah,? my zookeeper isn’t training me well.

keep it up. great job!

Reply

BobinOz September 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Ha ha, glad to have been some help Jack. Usually I would expect a slice of your commission for providing this level of training, but hey, I’m going to let you keep it all. Save wisely, one day you’ll be able to escape :-)

Cheers, Bob

Reply

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