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6 May 2019
From Kilowatts to Megajoules, there are loads of terms that can make you feel like you're in the dark when it comes to energy. We're breaking down the top pieces of energy jargon, so you can become the expert in your household.
Written by Renee Reader
What’s the difference between an energy retailer and a distributor?
An energy retailer (like Origin) is a company that supplies natural gas or electricity to consumers. Retailers handle everything from getting connected, bills, energy offers, moving house, applying concessions - right through to everyone’s least favourite, issues and complaints.
A distributor maintains all the powerlines, poles, pipes and meters that make the transmission of electricity and natural gas possible. Your distributor is also the best contact when it comes to a supply interruption, emergency, meter issue or special electricity supply needs (like a life support machine). You can find their contact details here if you put in your postcode.
You can choose your retailer, but you can’t choose your distributor. Your distributor is the local network designated to your suburb.
What’s an NMI number?
NMI stands for National Metering Identifier. It’s a unique 10 or 11 digit number used to identify every electricity network connection point in Australia. Every connection to the national electricity network is given its own NMI. You can find your NMI number on the second page of your bill in the ‘Total Electricity Charges’ box.
What’s a MIRN number?
MIRN stands for Meter Installation Registration Number. It’s another unique 11 digit number used by natural gas suppliers to identify your gas connection. It’s essentially the same as an NMI, but for gas.
What are kilowatt hours? (kWh)
A kilowatt hour is a measure of how much energy you’re using. It’s a unit of measurement that equals the amount of energy you would use if you kept a 1,000 watt appliance running for an hour. For example, if you switched on a 100 watt light bulb, it would take 10 hours to use 1 kWh of energy. If you're curious about just how much energy each of your appliances uses, an appliance running calculator can give you a good sense of how much they cost to run.
What’s a megajoule? (MJ)
If you have natural gas at your property, then you’ve probably noticed there are a lot of numbers on your bill followed by ‘MJ’. Similar to a kWh, a MJ is a unit of work or energy equal to one million joules. A property’s gas usage is measured in megajoules and is recorded using a gas meter.
What does peak/off-peak metering mean?
Off-peak refers to reduced electricity rates during specific times, these time periods are usually when households and businesses are using less electricity. The exact times will be different depending on your location and meter type, but they’re typically at night or over the weekend. This is also sometimes referred to as 'time of use' metering.
In order to take advantage of off-peak power, you might need to change your tariff - which can be dependant on your meter type. One more thing to be mindful of, before you make the switch, is your usage habits. It pays to look into your households energy usage and make sure you're using the bulk of your appliances during the specific off peak/shoulder times. Find out more on how you can take advantage of off-peak power.
What’s a controlled load?
A controlled load is electricity supplied to specific appliances, the most common being electric hot water systems, pool pumps or underfloor heating. These are usually on a separate meter or a dedicated circuit - you might also find you’re charged a lower rate as these appliances operate during off-peak hours.
What’s the difference between a supply and street address?
Your supply address is the address that’s listed for your meter in the National Database. This may appear differently to your street address, which can cause you to think we might be billing you for the wrong property. The best way to check this is to compare your meter number with the meter number listed on the second page of your bill. Don’t have a bill yet? Reach out to our friendly Social Media Team and they’d be happy to check this for you. If your meter number matches, we can have the supply address updated to match your street address - we just need a copy of your council rates notice.
And that’s a wrap! Now that you’re up to speed with our lingo, you have all the right info to become the energy guru of your household. Hopefully this cheat sheet will make your life a little easier when you come across these terms in future.
About the author
Renee works in the Origin Social Media Team. She has a passion for travel and adventure, and in her spare time you'll either find her soaking up the sun or brunching with her best girlfriends.