Energy tariffs explained

Tariffs can be confusing. But this explainer is here to guide you through the different types of tariffs, and help you find ways to manage your future energy bills.

Energy bills can be confusing enough already. Add tariffs to the equation, and your eyes might glaze over. 

But tariffs can have a big impact on your energy bills. By understanding the different types of tariffs, you may be able to optimise your energy use and better manage your bills  – and that helps putting you in control.

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is a tariff?

A tariff is how you’re charged for your energy consumption. It’s not always a single rate. And it’s not one-size-fits-all. Instead, your tariff is determined by the type of meter you have and your energy distributor. (One thing to remember: Alinta Energy is a retailer, not a distributor, so we don’t set your tariff. Distributors do this based on your location and other factors.)

Tariffs can be structured in number of different ways,  for example a tariff can be linked to the time of day you use the energy, the appliances you use or the amount of energy you consume. Or it might be a flat rate. 

Tariffs have other differences too. How they meter usage. How they structure peak periods. How value is assigned to the energy you consume. But by figuring out the basics of your tariff, you can get better control of your bill.

Its impact on your energy bill

Your energy distributor sets your tariff, then your retailer – that’s us – sets the prices (aka rates) for each type of tariff. 

Straight talk: because you can’t choose your tariff, the one you’re on might not be the best fit for your lifestyle or needs. But you’ve still got the power to influence your bill. How? By getting to grips with how the tariff structure charges for energy consumption, then making it work for you.

One example? A time-of-use tariff has different rates for peak and off-peak periods. Once you know what those hours are, you can shift tasks like using the dishwasher or dryer to the times of the day with lower rates. It’s a quick win, right? 

Types of tariffs

To understand which tariff you’re on, check your Alinta Energy bill – your tariff will be listed in the ‘Understand your bill’ section. Here are four of the most common tariffs.

Single-rate tariff

Simple, consistent and straightforward. With a single-rate tariff, you pay the same rate day or night. 

Because it’s not linked to the time of use, you can more easily predict what your energy charges will be based on how you use energy at home. Another win? There’s no impact if you’re using appliances during peak times, like evenings or weekends. 

The flipside? You can’t reduce your bill by changing the time you use your appliances, for example. But there are still ways to cut your energy use (and your costs) – check out our energy-saving tips for ideas.

Time-of-use tariff

A time-of-use tariff does what it says on the tin: it charges different rates for different times – peak (high-energy use times), off-peak (low-energy use times) and shoulder (between peak and off-peak hours). Peak periods cost more, off-peak costs less.

Peak and off-peak periods vary between different states, distributors and even retailers, but here’s a common breakdown for metro areas:   

  • New South Wales (Ausgrid): Off-peak: 10pm–7am; Peak: 2pm–8pm*  
  • Queensland (Energex): Off-peak: 12am–7am & 10pm–12am; Peak: 4pm–8pm*
  • South Australia (SA Power Networks): Off-peak: 1am–6am; Peak: 6am–10am & 3pm–1am
  • Victoria (Citipower): Off-peak: 12am–3pm & 9pm–12am; Peak: 3pm–9pm

*New South and Queensland also have different peak and off-peak periods on the weekend.

If you’re on a time-of-use tariff, you'll pay less if you shift your highest energy use to off-peak hours. When’s the best time to run the washing machine or dishwasher? Usually, it’s very early in the morning, so get ready to set those timers. 

Controlled-load tariff

Got a large, high-use appliance like underfloor heating or a pool pump? Opt-in for a controlled-load tariff by reaching out to us and we’ll organise everything you need.  With a controlled-load tariff, your appliance has its own meter and is charged its own rate. 

It’s great for appliances that don’t need continuous power – instead, they’re set to run during off-peak hours (usually overnight). Energy rates are lower at this time, and it reduces demand on the network. It’s a win-win situation that can save dollars. 

Demand tariff

With a demand tariff, you’re charged based on the load you place on the network. In plain English? This is how actively you use electricity at a point in time – for example, if you’re using lots of appliances simultaneously.

Under this tariff, charges are based on a household’s highest peak-period energy usage during a billing cycle. This means brief spikes can have a big impact on your bill. But if you focus your energy use on off-peak periods, or spread out your energy use, you’ve got the opportunity to cut your costs.

One thing to know? You need a smart meter for this tariff, so get in contact if you want to upgrade.

Understand your tariff

We’ll be honest with you. Tariffs can be confusing – especially as you are often limited by the tariff set by your energy distributor. But the key? Understanding how to use your tariff to your advantage. With that knowledge, you’ve got the power to influence your energy bill. And that’s a win.

Want more information about tariffs? Contact our friendly Customer Service team and they’ll guide you through your options.

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