Bill shock: What to expect when you’re not expecting

Nothing gives you that dreaded feeling quite so much as an unexpectedly large bill.

Occasionally, your household energy usage may be much higher than anticipated – particularly during a chilly winter with more time spent at home. So even when you know your next energy bill is fast approaching, nothing can quite prepare you for bill shock.

The information below will help you learn about bill shock and how to manage it, so you can help to avoid it happening again. Remember, if you need payment assistance or further advice, we’re always here to help.

What is bill shock?

Bill shock is a common problem for Australian families concerned about cashflow. It’s the reaction you feel when you receive a bill that is higher than what you were expecting.

The silver lining is that bill shock can be managed, either directly with your energy retailer or through personal budgeting. There are also things your household can do to try to avoid it happening again.  

Why’s my energy bill so high?

Having a great value energy plan is an important first step in minimising your energy costs. But there are other factors that can lead to higher than expected bill.

In most cases, you’ve simply used more energy than usual. Households typically use energy for heating, hot water and cooking – all the things that make a cold winter’s day more comfortable.

If you’ve received a bill that is higher than expected, take a look at our handy checklist to investigate a little further.

What if I can’t afford to pay my bill?

Try not to panic – we’ll work with you to keep you connected. We can help you with arranging a payment plan or alternative payment options based on your individual circumstances. For more information, see our Hardship Program.

If you need further financial assistance, we’re here to support you with further payment assistance options and advice. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch by visiting to find out how we can help.

How do I avoid this happening again?

Most people have experienced bill shock at some point in their lives. The important thing is that you learn from it and take some steps to help avoid it happening again. We’ve added some tips below for inspiration.

  1. Reduce your energy usage
    The weather can have a significant impact on your household energy usage. During winter, the shorter and cooler days can push up your energy usage, especially if you’re trying to heat up your house. For ideas on how you can save on energy all year round, check out our energy saving tips.

  2. Adjust your budgeting
    You could try some personal budgeting tactics. For example, if you pay quarterly, put some cash away every month so you already have money on hand when your next bill arrives.

  3. Get a great energy deal
    We said it from the start – no matter how much cash you save or how much you reduce your energy usage, make sure you’re on the best energy plan for your needs. If you’re looking to switch to Alinta Energy, check out our range of affordable energy plans.