How to check if your electricity bill is accurate, using Solar Analytics

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Checking your electricity bill using your Solar Analytics dashboard

How about this year we all choose a new year’s resolution that’s actually doable, makes you feel good, and possibly saves you money for just a small bit of effort? I’m calling it an Energy Resolution, and it’s really just about wrapping your head around what you’re doing with electricity in your house. And the very first step? Checking your electricity bill, to make sure you are being charged correctly.

 

Step 1: Find your bill

(and if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to switch to paperless)

 

Step 2: Take note of your key readings

Using Solar Analytics to understand your electricity bill

The Usage Charge (here called “Peak Usage” even though I am on a flat tariff and have no peak or off-peak) is the amount of electricity that you purchased from the grid to use. In my example, I used 140.24 kilowatt hours of electricity and was charged a flat rate of almost 24c per kilowatt hour.

The Supply Charge is the fixed price that you are charged per day for the pleasure of being connected to the grid (these vary between electricity retailers and plans). My retailer charges 99c per day and the billing period was 30 days.

The Solar FiT or Feed in Tariff, is the amount of solar that you did not use in your home, and that was exported to the grid. I exported 104.37 kilowatt hours of solar energy to the grid that I did not use in my home, and was paid a flat rate of 13c per kilowatt hour (my Feed in Tariff).

Note: my electricity usage was unusually low and our solar exports higher as my family was away over the Christmas break.

Now let’s check what Solar Analytics data tells us for the same period:

 

Step 3: Choose Your Time Period

Head to the Consumption page on your Dashboard and in the second graph showing Week, Month, and Year data, choose the same billing period as your bill. In my example, this is 3rd December to 1st January (inclusive).

Choose your Solar Analytics time period to check your bill

 Select ‘Update’ and you will then see all your electricity stats:

Electricity usage stats using Solar Analytics

 

In my example, I can see at a glance exactly how much electricity I have used, and how much of that was purchased from the grid or from my own solar, and how much solar I have exported to the grid. I can also see my total savings from using my own solar and exporting my solar to the grid, and the amount of money that I spent on electricity usage from the grid.

I can now compare these to the information on my bill from above:

 

Bill says:

Solar Analytics says:

Total electricity used

Not available

216.5 kWh

Electricity used from solar

Not available

75.1 kWh

Electricity used from grid

140.24 kWh

141.4 kWh

Solar exported to grid

104.37 kWh

102.8 kWh

 

As you can see, the comparable values of electricity used from grid, solar exported to grid and total amount spent on electricity are very close (catering to a small error %). This indicates that my bill is very close to being correct, and may depend on what time of the day the readings from my smart meter were taken by my electricity retailer.

The big difference is that I can see more information from my Solar Analytics dashboard - namely total electricity used in my home and electricity used from my own solar (we call this self-consumption and this is my ‘free’ electricity). This data provides me with the savings that I am making by having solar and using it in my home, and can help me determine the payback on my solar.

 

Step 4: Reconcile the Differences

So what if there is a significant difference between your bill information and your Solar Analytics data? Head to the Monthly Report page (under reports on the left hand side of your Solar Analytics Dashboard), and you can download your raw data as a CSV file using the button on the top left hand corner.

Download raw data from Solar Analytics

You can then use this data, as well as screenshots of your Dashboard data to send to your electricity company for comparison. Solar Analytics data is revenue-grade quality metering, and recognised by all regulatory bodies.

Look out for more features on bill checking as Solar Analytics continues to refine and make improvements to the Dashboard software over time.

Now, while you’ve got your bill out, why don’t you check that your rates are up-to-date in your Dashboard to make sure that your savings information is correct?

 

OPTIONAL Step 5: Check your Tariff Settings

Use the rates on your bill to check that your Tariff settings are correct. The Customer Tariff page is found under Settings on the left hand side of your Dashboard:

Solar Analytics tariff settings

You can choose from Flat Rate or Time Of Use tariff type. Flat rate means that you are charged a single amount per kilowatt hour for the electricity that you use. Time of Use means that you are charged a different amount per kilowatt hour for the electricity that you use, depending on the time of the day.

Note that some plans include a Time of Use Feed in Tariff, meaning that you are paid a different amount for the solar that you export, based on the time of day, or a Controlled Load Tariff for a specific circuit (such as hot water). This option is currently not available in our Customer Tariff settings, so Solar Analytics recommends choosing the lower of your tariffs during daylight hours to err on the conservative side.

 

Step 6: Choose Your Time Period

Head to the Savings page on your Dashboard and in the second graph showing Daily, Monthly, and Year data, choose the same billing period as your bill. In my example, this is 3rd December to 1st January (inclusive):

See your savings from your solar system with your Solar Analytics dashboard

Now I can also see my Savings on the Dashboard for the same period - the amount I saved by using solar in my home, the amount I earned by exporting solar to the grid, and my total savings. It’s great for me to be able to see exactly how much I am 'paying off' my solar system and keeps me incentivised to look for ways to reduce my energy usage and 'pay off' my system even faster.

 

So there’s your first Energy Resolution done and dusted. Fret no longer over whether your electricity retailer is getting correct readings for your system. Happy bill checking!