What to do if you receive an estimated bill

Sometimes you may receive an estimated electricity bill. This means you are charged based on an estimate of your power use. Here’s what you need to know about estimated reads and what to do if you receive an estimated bill.

What is an estimated bill?

An estimated bill means that your bill is based on an estimate of the power you have used during the quarter and is usually based on the same period in the last 12 months.

Why would I receive an estimated bill?

This usually happens when your local energy distributor can’t read your meter. It could be that they can’t safely access your meter due to unrestrained pets, locked gates or even long grass. It could also be due to severe weather events, faulty meter reading equipment or issues with the meter data.

You will continue to receive estimated bills until it is safe for the distributor to access your meter.

How can I tell if my bill has been estimated?

Your bill will include either ‘actual’ or ‘estimated’ in the total charges section. How it is displayed on your bill varies between retailers. It can sometimes appear as either an (A) or (E) after the meter reading numbers where A = actual and E = estimated.

If the distributor is unable to read your meter, they will often let you know by leaving a card in your letter box.

What is my estimated bill based on?

Your estimated bill is based on the last read in the same period during the last 12 months. This means that it may not always be accurate and could be either under or overestimated. While it might sound good if your bill is underestimated, the next time your distributor is able to take an actual reading, you could receive a ‘backbill’ (or a catchup bill) for a large amount of money.

If your bill is over estimated, you will be paying for more than you actually used until an actual reading is taken and you could find your account is in credit.

What can I do if my bill has been estimated?

If your bill has been estimated and you have a basic meter (not a smart meter), you can contact your energy retailer and supply your own reading and request to have your bill reissued.

There are some important points to note if you are providing an estimated read.

  • You must provide your self-read request before the payment due date on the estimated bill you have received.
  • Your meter read will need to be consistent with the numbering format of your meter and a higher value than your most recent actual read.
  • Make sure you understand your meter and follow the tips on reading your meter.

Most retailers have a page on their website with advice on self reads and may also provide a way to submit your read online. Find your retailer.

If you do provide a self-read to your energy retailer, any new bill issued will still show as an estimated bill. Your bill will only show an actual read, when the meter read has been provided by the distributor.

Self reads can also be submitted directly through your distributor. You must provide the read within 3 days of being notified the meter reader couldn’t read your meter:

What happens to my next bill?

Your retailer must issue you with a bill at least once every 100 days. Once the retailer has obtained an actual meter read, it is their responsibility to adjust the next bill. This may involve a credit to your account if the bill was overestimated or a further payment request if the bill was underestimated.

What should I do if I have a problem with an estimated bill?

The first step if you have a problem with an estimated bill is to contact your retailer so that they can fix the issue. If your problem hasn’t been resolved or you are still unhappy you can contact us.