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The industry regulator Ofgem and the utility companies themselves use the average consumption figure of 3,300 kWh for electricity and 20,500 kWh for gas and then multiple these consumption figures by the tariff rate to provide an average bill figure.
These average bill figures will vary greatly depending on the tariff used to calculate the amount and the method of payment of the bill.
Gas and electricity prices are now going up again, with the latest price rises for some customers, of up to 10% for gas and electricity. The Conversation is funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, ACU, ANSTO, ANU, Canberra, CDU, CQU, Curtin, Deakin, ECU, Flinders, Griffith, the Harry Perkins Institute, JCU, La Trobe, Murdoch, Newcastle, UQ, QUT, Swinburne, Sydney, UNDA, UNE, UniSA, UNSW, USC, USQ, UTAS, UWS, VU and Wollongong. Third time lucky: after a deal between Clive Palmer (right) and his Senate PUPs with the government, the carbon tax has finally been repealed.
UPDATED THURSDAY 17 JULY, 11:20am: Australia’s “carbon tax” has been axed – so what does it mean for you and for Australia?
The government predicts that for an average Australian household, electricity bills will be about 9% or A$200 “lower than they would otherwise be in 2014-15” if the current carbon tax remained in place, while average gas bills should be about 7% or A$70 lower. But that disclaimer about “lower than they would otherwise be” is important – because that’s not the same thing as saying your total power and gas bills will fall this year.
As for the accuracy of the average household savings once the carbon tax is gone, the forecasts those are based on were made by Treasury back in 2011.
Trends in total and per person annual electricity consumption in the National Electricity Market, which includes Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. But since 2011, a lot has changed – including that Australia’s electricity use has fallen sharply, much to the power industry’s surprise. ANU’s Hugh Saddler has shown why that’s happened, including energy efficiency measures, industry changes, and consumers cutting back to avoid bigger bills. Wood is right: where you live and how you use energy will make a big difference to whether you save more or less than others.
But if you live on Australia’s east coast, the bad news is that gas prices are set to climb much higher. If the carbon tax had stayed in place, it would have contributed about 6% to a typical NSW home gas bill this year (click the graphic on the right for more detail). Read more from RMIT’s Alan Pears on slashing power bills and from ClimateWorks Australia’s Anna Skarbek on how not to get burnt by rising gas bills.
If you’re worried about your current pension or other government payments that increased when the carbon tax was introduced, then don’t – with the carbon tax gone, your payments will remain the same as was announced in this year’s federal budget.
When Labor first introduced the carbon tax, it came with a A$15 billion package of household compensation, including tax cuts and increased government payments, designed to partly or wholly cover extra costs of living, such as higher power bills.
Among those carbon tax sweeteners was a “Clean Energy Supplement”, paid automatically to pensioners, families who receive family assistance, and others on government income support. What’s less clear is what will happen to future tax cuts, which had looked set to be dumped, but which the new Senate wants to keep. Last week, the Senate voted against scrapping an increase in the tax-free threshold from $18,200 now to $19,400 from July 1 next year, at a cost to the federal budget of at least A$1.5 billion, and possibly more than A$2 billion over the next four years.
That increase was originally intended to compensate for a rising carbon tax, and was mainly aimed at lower-income earners.
But in its final 2013 budget, the Labor government announced it would “defer” those tax cuts, saving the budget A$1.4 billion. Yet when the Coalition government tried to do the same thing and scrap the tax cuts as part of axing the carbon tax, Labor joined with new senators to reject the move.
So unless the government can persuade more of the new crossbench senators to change their mind, next year low-income earners will get an unexpected tax cut. With the carbon tax repeal only just getting through the Senate, the final costs are still too hard to tally – but the costs are mounting. As Michelle Grattan has explained, the government isn’t getting its way in a number of areas of climate policy – and that’s creating a budget headache “as some budget items are rolled up, only to be rolled”. On top of finding A$1.5 billion-plus to raise the tax-free threshold increase, the government will be having to crunch new numbers after the Senate – including new faces from the Palmer United Party and Victorian Ricky Muir – combined to retain the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (although with reduced funding), the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target (at least until the next election). We’ll have a bigger deficit over the four-year period than we would have had if the previous government’s policies had remained exactly as they were. Even before the recent Senate dramas, the Financial Review had predicted that “scrapping the carbon tax could punch a hole as big as $7.6 billion a year in the budget”. That forecast was based on the loss of the carbon tax and its proposed replacement with the government’s Direct Action plan and its centrepiece Emissions Reduction Fund, worth “up to A$2.55 billion over the next four years.
What is certain is that repealing the carbon tax will cost billions in direct revenue from major polluters, which have been buying emissions credits under the scheme. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pledged to backdate the end of carbon pricing to July 1, 2014 (although this might end up involving a complicated system of refunds). As mentioned before, the Abbott government’s alternative climate policy is its Direct Action plan, but its fate is yet to be decided by the unpredictable new Senate. But if you look closer at the fall in national emissions across the whole economy – including energy, transport, agriculture and more – there was a much bigger, more marked change in our electricity sector, where emissions fell 5% last year. The total decline [in electricity sector emissions] over the two financial years since carbon pricing is almost 11%, at an annual rate of 5.36%. Economist Ross Garnaut agrees that having an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax is not the only way to cut emissions – but argues “the alternatives are more expensive, more difficult, and less certain to deliver good results”.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Professor Ross Garnaut AO have different views on how best to cut emissions. But Garnaut has a different view, saying he believes “it’s doubtful” Australia will meet the emissions targets it has pledged internationally: an unconditional promise to cut emissions by at least 5% by 2020, and even more – possibly 15%-25% below 2000 levels by 2020 – depending on what other countries are doing. Australia’s emissions reduction targets – a minimum of a 5% cut on 2000 levels by 2020, but up to 25% if there’s stronger global action. Back in 2010 at the Cancun climate summit, most of the world including Australia committed to a maximum temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to consider lowering that maximum to 1.5C in the near future. Proposed ways to bring down greenhouse emissions from energy in 15 countries, between now and 2050.
In other words, there’s still an awfully big gap between talk and action in most countries.

Last week, researchers in 15 countries including Australia, China, India and the US published a report showing how they would work to cut global emissions by around half by 2050, even while tripling the size of the global economy. Under Kevin Rudd, Labor was proposing to convert the fixed-price carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme from July 1 this year. But unless Clive Palmer’s unlikely bid for a zero-price emissions trading scheme succeeds, Australia’s carbon price – whatever you want to call it – is now history.
Thanks to all our readers who suggested questions, including Michelle Salateo, Phil Forbes, Grant Periott, Megan Nicholson, Warwick Pease and Ben Heslop. Labor has released a six point climate plan, which features a proposed phased emissions trading scheme. Australia’s mountains may be small but each year they deliver enough snow for winter sports. Labor has promised 50% of electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050, but has left the detail for after the election. The shrinkage was felt the most during a three year period, from 2007 to 2010 and it seems that was produced by the economic factor. The truth is that money can buy both the house and the technology to improve energy efficiency if needed.
Houses become more energy efficient every year, and this trend was confirmed by studies which found that the energy needed per square foot in 2009 was less with more than 37% compared with the energy needed in 1980 for the same surface.
Since 2009, technology has been improved even more and today we use less energy to ensure the comfort needed in the house.
Even if the house is much larger than a regular one, by using the same technologies like in the regular house, but at a larger scale, we can insulate, we can install double-glazed doors and windows, we can use green appliances, we can use LED lights and so on, just to keep our carbon footprint at the lowest level.
The same improvements regarding energy efficiency that is done in a regular house can be done for bigger homes as well. There is an economic factor in this trend, families that live in big houses across the U.S.
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In 2015, the average German household power bill fell slightly from 85 euros to 84 euros per month. While Americans pay on average around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, Germans easily pay twice as much.
Because the exchange rate has fluctuated so greatly, we opted for a different conversion metric: purchasing power parity. Clearly, the message in this comparison largely depends upon assumptions and the means of conversion. To reach this calculation, the author combines industrial (assumed to be 16 cents) and retail power rates (30 cents) to come up with a composite.
A chart from German utility lobby group BDEW showing the range of industry power prices and their components: For the purpose of this article, we mainly need to understand that the two bars for 2013 and 2014 show a range of prices that different firms pay depending on what levies are added on to their power price.
By including industrial power rates as a part of per-capita power expenses, the National Review’s estimate includes power costs that go into products and services but are not paid for in household bills. As in other countries, the poor in Germany may very well consume fewer products and services than the rich, so their burden would also be lower. Battery owners unite in a swarm and offer to the grid authority their power, earning money or free electric power. The first ones (again: Lichtblick) used gas powered motors from Volkswagen to create a CHP service to their owners.
This model never really became big, the costs being too high and the technical installation too complex. With the cheap PV and batteries nowadays swarm energy seems to get a foothold in the power distribution system. It would also be worth considering the household income of the bottom 10 and 25% of households in each nation.
This helps me deal with a common line of attack against an energy transition here in Saskatchewan, Canada.
An additional effect is that because of the high export intensity of the German economy (and despite the various exemptions of German export industries), some significant fraction of the total electricity costs is recovered from foreign purchases of German goods. Energy-intensive: In Germany, firms that consume a lot of energy and face international competition are largely exempt from the surcharge to cover the cost of renewable power. If you manage this site and have a question about why the site is not available, please contact us directly.
With the country in the midst of a blistering cold snap and the Big Six energy suppliers under fire for overcharging consumers, now might be the time to consider switching your energy to a better deal. Luckily the Big Noddle Energy Switch is back to help you make the best possible savings on your gas and electricity. We have partnered with energyhelpline to negotiate an exclusive cheaper deal from energy suppliers using the collective buying power of our consumers.
Don’t forget the more people that register the bigger the potential savings, so tell your family and friends and together we’ll beat big energy bills!
The winning exclusive tariffs will be available after February 15th 2016, so you have until then to register your interest. You simply need to register your interest in saving money on your energy bills at the Big Noddle Energy Switch site and we’ll do the rest.
Once you’ve told us you’re interested in finding a cheaper deal you no longer have to lift a finger.
When the switching window opens, we’ll let you know how much you can save on your energy tariff and if you choose to switch to the cheaper deal we’ll even help organise everything for free. A standard tariff will cost more than an online tariff and the gas and electricity utility suppliers will often give a discount for dual fuel and for monthly direct debit payments. We can show you an average figure which take account of the size of your home, the number of people in the home, the type of heating and the region within the UK, as climate varies considerably from warmer Cornwall and Devon to colder Highland Scotland.
With household budgets being squeezed, now is the right time to check you are on the best available tariff. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print.

We asked Conversation readers to tell us on Facebook and Twitter what questions you’d like us to answer about the carbon tax repeal. And as the Australian Financial Review recently reported, the state-owned NSW network companies are seeking further price rises. For example, if you’re a Victorian or Tasmanian using gas to stay warm all winter, you should see bigger changes in your bills than Queenslanders, who mainly use gas for cooking and hot water. In New South Wales, gas price hikes that started from the start of this month will more than wipe out any saving on gas bills from scrapping the carbon tax.
As announced in this year’s budget, the rate of payment of 30 June 2014 will be fixed for future payments, rather than increasing in future.
The Australian reports that the tax cut would be worth about $83 a year for people on $25,000 to $65,000, and $13 for people on more than $80,000. However, according to the 2014 budget papers, the government only expects to spend A$1.15 billion of that. According to the Financial Review’s analysis, the carbon tax directly netted A$6.6 billion in its first year (2012-13), when the price was A$23 a tonne.
But in recent years, we’ve seen a few small falls – including a 0.8% reduction in 2013 – the biggest annual reduction in emissions in 24 years of records. That compares to the average of 2.5% annual decline in the three years immediately preceding the implementation of carbon pricing … That is a quite staggering turn around. Other factors including energy efficiency standards making a major difference – not just in slashing emissions, but also saving Australia more than A$3 billion last year alone. And the conference left the future of the Kyoto Protocol unresolved, which also left open the question of the fate of the international carbon market.
So how big is that gap – and more importantly, what technologies and policies do we need to achieve deeper emission cuts?
You can read more about those and other key findings from Australian lead researchers Anna Skarbek and Frank Jotzo.
It’s not surprising, given our politicians couldn’t even agree on what we should be calling it. We’ve already covered some of your other questions elsewhere, including what the carbon tax repeal could mean for Tasmania’s hydro-electricity. Aside from air-conditioning, which is practically unknown in Germany, Americans and Germans have quite similar creature comforts at home. So in the chart below, we separate out air-conditioning to isolate the biggest difference between the two countries.
Our chart is therefore not the final word, but we hope it will improve the discussion outside Germany.
This comparison could be interesting, but the article provides no such figure for the United States. In the US case and in the UK, that would demonstrate the difference the gini coefficient makes to the acceptability of energy transitions to the fuel poor.
Plus, when you register, you’re not committing yourself to switching as you’re under no obligation. We do the heavy lifting by working with our partner energyhelpline to get the best deal possible from the energy suppliers.
And don’t worry about forgetting to check for the deal either as we’ll remind you when we’ve secured the energy offer.
Hence utility bills average figures can vary from ?968 to ?1198 per year for dual fuel from the same utility supplier, dependant on the choice of tariff.
Switching your tariff is a quick and very easy way to either reduce your gas and electricity bills, or to protect yourself against future price rises with a fixed price tariff.
Most said “carbon tax”, others said “carbon price”, and a tiny minority of experts even said a “fixed-price period of the carbon pricing mechanism” turning into “flexible-price emissions trading”. On the contrary, when an Energiewende demo takes place, it is always citizens wishing to protect their right to make their own energy. Convert at that rate, and Germans only pay around 92 dollars a month for electricity – compared to the US average of 110 dollars. Granted, homes are larger in the US at around 2,400 square feet, whereas the average German home comes in closer to 1,000 square feet. However, if the impact of air-conditioning is removed, German power bills would be among the highest.
For instance, the National Review published an article this month claiming that German energy policy is crushing the poor.
Roughly 25 percent of German power consumption is largely exempt from the renewable energy surcharge and other levies (such as the grid fee and other taxes), and such energy-intensive firms actually pay closer to four cents.
Note that the weighted average (red line in the middle) was 10.63 cents, far below the 16 cents estimated by the National Review. It is therefore unfortunate that the article concludes that “the electricity cost would amount to more than 10 percent of available income.
And as in other countries, the poor spend a larger share of their income on necessities – not just electricity, but heating oil and gasoline as well.
Furthermore, if a firm consumes at least 100 GWh per year and power costs make up more than 20 percent of total production costs, it does not even have to pay the full surcharge for the remaining 10 percent of its consumption. But even at the higher exchange rate from 2014, German power bills would still only come in right at around 110 dollars. Furthermore, in a state-by-state comparison (here is a PDF listing average power bills by US state) Germany would come in with the 21st lowest monthly power bills, quite close to the middle.
And that is for the median-income household… For the rich, $1,700 per year in electric bills might be a pittance, or at most a nuisance. The author finds that the yearly power bill in Germany is 1,700 USD per person (sic); in the chart above, we see that the annual bill per household (here, assumed to consist of three people) would be around 1,200 USD.

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