What Makes Up Your Electricity Bill & High Energy Consuming Household Appliances

When installing solar at your home it’s common to start monitoring your energy consumption and habits much more closely than you may of prior. This is because most inverter models today have a built-in functionality to monitor and display the solar energy your system is producing. This makes tracking your own consumption and whether you are exceeding your systems production easier.

Solar System Production of Energy

It’s worth noting (while it may be obvious to some) “Solar systems only generate energy when the sun is out”. This means at night (unless you have a battery system) you will be using energy from the grid. It also means that on days of over-cast when sunrays aren’t as strong, your solar system may not generate as much energy as you are using.

These factors make being strategic about your energy consumption and knowing when to run your highest energy consuming appliances very important, if you want to maximise the potential savings of your energy bills.

So first let’s work out how much your appliances contribute to your bills and then narrow down the biggest energy consuming culprits!

What Makes Up Your Energy Bill

According to research done by the Clean Energy Council the typical Australian household’s electricity bills are made up of the following;

the typical Australian household’s electricity bills are made up of the following

  • Poles and Wires 48% – Cost of the poles and wires that carry the electricity from power plants to our homes
  • Electricity Companies Admin & Marketing 24% – Cost of maintaining customer databases and billing processes at electricity retail companies, as well as marketing costs
  • Generating Electricity 22% – Cost of generating energy and running our households and its appliances
  • Environmental 7% – Cost to produce and manage renewable energy schemes and meet the Renewable Energy Target

While only 22% of our electricity bills reflect our actual energy consumption, managing your highest energy consuming appliances effectively can significantly change the outcome of your bill.

Breakdown Of Household Energy Usage


According to a report commissioned by the Australian Government the average household’s energy usage breakdown typically looks something like this;

  • Heating and cooling 40%
  • Water Heating 23%
  • Refrigerators and freezers 8%
  • Lighting 7%
  • Cooking 5%
  • Standby power 3%
  • Other 14% (laundry, entertaining, small appliances etc.)

Image Source: SA.GOV.AU


Highest Energy Consuming Appliances

  • Air-conditioner

    When extreme weather hits Australia so does the spike in our electricity bills. Air-conditioning units used for cooling or heating are usually the biggest contributors to our electricity bills and can chew through the energy your solar system would have produced.

    On average if you were to run your air-conditioner at 24 degrees for 8 hours in one day that’s approximately $4 on your electricity bill, which adds up in the summer months!

    While giving up the air-con is unrealistic in Australia, there are ways to reduce the amount you have the air-con running without living in an uncomfortable environment. These include:

    • Keeping your air-con at a reasonable temperature – basically the harder your air-con must work, the more energy it will consume. This means you won’t want to blast the air-con on cold to the point you are wrapping yourself up indoors in summer. A comfortable 20-25 degrees should be sufficient enough on the warmer days.

    • If you’re not home but want the place to be a comfortable temperature when you do arrive don’t have the air-con running the entire time you are out. Set timers so that the air-con turns on just with enough time to cool or warm up your home for your arrival.

    • Keep doors and windows closed to keep the cool or warm air in and at a steady temperature 

    • Keep blinds closed if you’re trying to keep the room cool

    • Get your rooms to a comfortable temperature before night, as your solar system won’t be generating energy at night

  • Water Heater

    If you don’t have a solar hot water system installed, the water heater is going to be the next biggest offender to your pricey electricity bills. Not only is the energy used to heat water for your showers, baths and running the taps but also the dishwasher and washing machine.

    You can keep consumption down by:

    • Reducing shower times

    • Adjusting the temperature on your water heater

    • Selecting a cold wash and shorter cycle for your washing machine

    • Choosing a shorter cycle for your dishwasher

    • Activate timers to run dishwasher and washing machine during the day

  • Refrigerator and Freezer

    Next up is your refrigerator and freezer, while energy consumption can vary based on the size of your refrigerator and freezer, unlike some other appliances these two are running constantly every day.

    Apart from investing in an energy efficient refrigerator and freezer another way to ensure these two appliances don’t consume more energy than they should is making sure the seals on the doors are intact and keeping out any external heat.

  • Dryer

    In Australia not all households will have a dryer and unless you’re living in an apartment you can probably go without, especially considering they can add up to $500 or more to your annual electricity bills in some cases.

    If you do have a dryer minimising the use as much as possible and drying clothes on a washing line is the only way to reduce the impact this appliance has on your bill.


Other notable mentions include;

  • Oven
  • Lighting
  • Television
  • Microwave
  • Washing Machine

To learn more ways on how to reduce your electricity bills read our “Tips To Maximise Your Solar Savings” Page


Haven’t installed solar yet, but ready to reduce your electricity bills?

Get connected with local providers!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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