What are Smart Meters?

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What are Smart Meters?

You’re probably already familiar with what an electricity meter is, but do you know about a smart meter?

This type of meter not only provides your electricity retailer with details of your household’s electricity usage, but it does so at regular half hour intervals. Doing so means that your electricity company no longer needs to provide an estimate of your household’s usage by referring to historical data! Instead, they are provided with the exact amount of power each month.

With a smart meter, more accurate invoices are provided each and every month!

Transmitting the Data Easily from the Smart Meter

The metering equipment provider transfers your usage details, as well as your Installation Control Point (ICP) number. Instead of using your address, the ICP identifies your connection point as a reference to your location on the grid network.

When your data is received by your retailer, your ICP number is matched to your account details. Your electricity usage is then easily recorded on your account.

Keeping Your Data Safe

There’s no need to worry about how your data’s protected when using a smart meter!

Not only is the data encrypted on its way to the retailer using the ICP number, but the Privacy Act 1993 and The Electricity Industry Participation Code 2010 provide extra security.

Plus, meter data is only ever released to the authorized person on the account.

Addressing Your Health Concerns

Because smart meters use a frequency that’s lower than a cell phone or microwave, the amount of radiation emitted is well below New Zealand limits.

The signal is sent at only short periods of time and since smart meters are normally located outside your home, even less exposure occurs.

Tracking Tools Available

Interested in being able to see exactly how much power is being consumed in your household? Some electricity companies offer online tools that enable smart meter users to track their household’s power consumption.

This provides a great way to be able to implement cost-saving strategies for energy consumption!

Contact Switchme to Save Even More on Your Energy Bill!

Besides using a smart meter, have you considered changing energy suppliers to see if a lower-cost option is available? If so,Switchme makes researching these options easy!

As New Zealand’s largest non-government funded energy switching site, Switchme can be trusted to find you the best deal on your energy bill. By processing energy comparisons and giving free, independent advice, we help customers all the time save money.

Contact us today to learn how you, too, can start saving money on your energy costs!?

Types of Heat Pumps

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Types of Heat Pumps

We know that choosing the right type of heat pump for your household’s needs can be confusing. Besides many different manufacturers to choose from, each model offers something different – making the decision a difficult one.

That’s why we’ve broken down the most common types used throughout New Zealand. Read on to discover which heat pump would be the best fit to keep your household at the optimal temperature all year round!

Considerations to Make Prior to Purchasing a Heat Pump

Heat pumps can be costly – one unit installed can easily cost a few thousand dollars! Making the proper considerations prior to making a purchase can save you from making the wrong decision, and wasting money.

Think about the following prior to making your heat pump purchase:

1.Size and Position of Heat Pump: It’s important that you choose the correct size of heat pump for the space you need. Choosing one that is too small for your home will result in higher energy bills since your unit will be working harder. Check with an expert to see what their advice is on the proper heat pump for your space.

2.Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency varies across heat pump models, so it’s worth using the energy-wise running cost calculator to see the costs associated with running a certain unit.

3.Air Filtration: If air quality is important to you and your family members (especially for those with health concerns), look for a unit that has been approved by the Asthma Foundation NZ Sensitive Choice Program.

4.Output: How powerful your unit is makes a difference with how hard it will have to work to heat or cool your home.

Air Source Heat Pumps: Most Commonly Used Throughout New Zealand

Air source heat pumps are by far the most common type of residential unit in New Zealand. There are three main models of air source heat pumps:

1.Split Heat Pumps: Comprised of two main components, split heat pumps have one inside unit which can be mounted on any wall, floor or ceiling and an outdoor unit.

2.Multi-Split Heat Pumps: Although very similar to split heat pumps, multi-split heat pumps have a larger single outdoor unit. By serving more than one indoor unit, this type of pump can provide heating and cooling across a bigger space.

3.Ducted Heat Pumps: Want to eliminate the look of a noticeable indoor unit? Then a ducted heat pump may be the unit for you! Although more costly than the other types of a heat pump, a ducted system has an outdoor unit as well as flexible ducting. This type of system runs throughout your floor and ceiling to heat and cool your space through household vents.

Other than air source heat pumps, geothermal and absorption heat pumps are also available for more niche climates and purposes.

Lower Your Energy Costs!

Now that you have more knowledge about heat pumps, want to learn about other ways you can lower your energy costs? If so, Switchme can help!

By processing energy comparisons and giving free, independent advice, Switchme helps customers save on their monthly energy costs. Contact us today to learn how you, too, can save money on your energy costs!

How to Get a Discount on Your Household’s Electricity Costs

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How to Get a Discount on Your Household’s Electricity Costs

It’s always a great time to save money – but even more so when it’s just after the holiday season! If you’re looking for ways to save on your household costs, have you considered ways to save on your electricity bill?

Good Customers Get Rewarded by Electricity Retailers

Many electricity retailers reward customers with savings when they make the company’s billing processes easier. Taking advantage of these types of discounts is a great way to reduce your overall electricity costs!

Start saving on your energy bill today by getting some the discounts below:

Prompt Payment Discount

Customers who pay their energy bills in full and on time are appreciated by electricity retailers! Time (and money) is saved by the retailer when they do not have to chase a customer for a payment. Because of this, great customers can be rewarded 10 to 20 percent off their energy costs!

Direct Debit Discount

Depending on the electricity retailer, changing the method of payment can sometimes result in an electricity discount! Check with your retailer to see if making a simple change to a direct debit payment will result in lower energy costs.

Email Correspondence Discount

Mailing items through the post can really add up for a company – especially those that have thousands of customers! Many times, electricity retailers offer a discount of 1 – 2 percent when customers opt to receive their bill and other correspondence through email.

Dual Fuel Discount

Do you require more than one type of energy to your home? Stacking services with your retailer can result in cost savings each month! For example, choosing the same energy provider to supply both electricity and gas to your home can result in a bonus discount for you!

Enjoy the Extra Savings!

Wondering what other changes can be made to result in cost savings on your energy bill? Discounts differ by the retailer, so it’s worth checking to see what type of discount you can utilize. Simply call your retailer today and ask what changes you can make to start saving money!

Switchme is here to Help You Save Even More Money!

After checking with your electricity retailer to see what types of savings you can get, it’s worth seeing if another retailer can save you even more money. Switchmecan help compare other energy providers’ rates!

To help you get the best price on your household’s energy costs, check out our free, online comparison calculator to find out what other energy suppliers could cost you. Contact Switchme today for more details about our services!

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

With the warm weather now upon us, it’s important to keep your home as naturally cool as possible. Not only does this save money on energy costs, but finding natural ways to do so is environmentally friendly, too!

Below are some of the best ways to keep your home – and your family – as cool as possible during these warm summer months.

Ensure Your Home’s Properly Insulated

Your home’s insulation is the best barrier to keeping heat from transferring inside. Ensure you have the appropriate roof and wall insulation to keep your home as cool as possible.

Use Proper Shades

Having proper window hoods and well-designed eaves can provide numerous benefits. Not only do they help keep out the heat during the summer months, but they can invite sun in during the cold winter months, too.

Insulated window films are an alternative to blinds and provide similar cooling benefits.

Large Openings Allow for Cross Ventilation

Having large openings throughout your home can help with replacing hot air inside with cool air from outside. In addition, the home’s inhabitants will perspire less as breezes help cool the body!

Have rooms that you don’t utilize often? Consider closing their doors to help direct cool air to the home’s more populated areas.

Make the most of the cooler temperatures at nighttime by opening the windows to allow a cross breeze. Just remember to close them in the morning before the heat comes in!

Install Water Features Around Your Home

Water features, ponds, and pools surrounding a home act like evaporative coolers. They absorb the air’s heat, thereby making it cooler before it enters your home.

More Trees = Cooler Temperatures

Like water features, plants and trees around a home can help keep your home cool using the effects of evaporative cooling.

Large trees to the west help reduce heat from the afternoon sun. In addition, plants can be used to shade walls and garden beds, and reduce the amount of paving needed.

Save on Energy Costs with Switchme!

Another great way to save on energy costs is to ensure your electricity provider is giving you the best rate possible. Switchme, New Zealand’s biggest nongovernment funded energy switching site, can help you compare other energy providers’ rates to your own. Use Switchme’s free, online calculator to find the best energy rate possible! Contact Switchme today for more details.

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What Do I Need to Know About Solar Panels?

Interested in generating your own electricity? Solar panels (also known as photovoltaic panels) installed on Kiwis’ homes are quickly proving a popular way to accomplish this goal!

How to Install Solar Panels on Your Home

Like most decisions in life, it pays to do your homework first before making a big decision! The same logic applies to installing solar panels on your home.

Prior to doing so, consider the pros and cons of adding solar panels to your residence. Although you may already know the benefits of having solar panels (with the big one being a decrease/elimination of energy costs), have you considered the disadvantages?

Researching the costs associated with having the solar panels, such as maintenance costs and parts replacement as well as the length of the warranty can help you make an informed decision.

More Information Available Online

As part of your research, check out the solar calculator on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s website. By giving your address and electricity usage from a previous bill, you’ll be able to see how much value you could get from installing solar. And all within only 15 minutes online!

Further information is available via Consumer NZ’s website and Sustainable Electricity Association New Zealand’s website.

Your Connection to the Grid When You Have Solar Panels

Even when you generate solar energy, you still remain connected to the grid. A relationship continues with your retailer and lines company as well.

Your retailer can let you know if your electricity meter can measure both the electricity created from the solar panels, as well as the electricity exported to the local network. It’s worth researching buy-back rates of various retailers in your area to learn more about what you can do with your excess electricity.

What to Do with Solar Panel Issues

If you have a complaint with the solar panels on your home, you must first seek a solution via your panel provider. If you’re still not satisfied, either the Commerce Commission or Citizens’ Advice Bureau can assist you.

Other Ways to Save on Energy

Not interesting in installing solar panels, but still want to save on your energy bill? Switchme, New Zealand’s largest non-government funded energy switching site helps Kiwis find better energy deals.

Since 2009, we have offered free, independent advice as well as assisted customers through the confusing process of changing energy providers. Using our free, online comparison calculator, easily see how your current energy provider compares to competitors! Contact us today for more details!

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Innovative Southland Farmers Create a Machine that Converts Methane into Electricity

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Hard work and dedication over the past 13 years finally paid off for a father-son farming team with the creation of a machine that uses methane to produce power.

Southland farmers John and Quinton Scandrett have worked tirelessly to create a solution for powering their cow shed and for heating water for the farm.

Keeps Harmful Methane Gas out of the Atmosphere

In the end, a machine was created that extracts greenhouse gases from effluent, and changes them into carbon dioxide at his Isla Bank property, Glenarlea Farm.

An Environmental Game Changer for Farmers

Using the farm’s effluent pond which contains wash-out from the milking shed, a black liner traps methane gas, which is then fed through a generator to create electricity. In addition, hot water (at 91degC) is produced which is used for cleaning the farm.

The more animal manure produced, the more energy can be created. A herd of 400 cows is estimated to produce enough energy to produce hot water only, but 800-850 cows would be able to create a full electricity generating set-up. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be reduced by about 30% using the system.

Challenges with Effluent Ponds

One of the main challenges with creating electricity using this process is to keep effluent ponds well insulated. Cooler temperatures slow the natural bacteria, which produces the methane. The pond at Glenarlea Farm had been built with this in mind, but existing effluent ponds could be retrofitted with the technology.

However, since Southland typically has cooler climate, successful use of this technology there means that it can work basically anywhere throughout New Zealand.

New Technology Means Cost Savings for Farmers

Other Southland farmers can anticipate the technology to be available for their farms next year. Although installation costs will vary depending on the effluent pond system currently in place, the electricity savings from the recovery will eventually pay off.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland are currently monitoring the project to see what the actual economic payback would be.

Lower Your Energy Costs with Switchme!

As New Zealand’s largest non-government funded energy switching site, Switchme has helped thousands of New Zealand business and residential customers find a better energy deal. Using our free, online comparison calculator, see for yourself if another electricity provider has a cheaper rate. Contact Swtichme today for more details

Keep Your Electric Vehicle Powered with New Charging Stations in South Auckland

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If you’re an electric vehicle owner in South Auckland, it’s easy to keep your vehicle powered with help from the area’s ten charging stations.

Vector, an electricity supplier, has rapid chargers at Auckland Airport Shopping Centre, the Z Energy Skyway fuel station on George Bolt Memorial Drive, and on Walters Road, Takanini. They’ve also supplied Manukau, Wiri, M?ngere, and East Tamaki with standard chargers.

The chargers near Auckland Airport are proving very popular, with an average use of 15.5 times each day.

Install Vector’s EV Charging App for Helpful Information

Vector's EV Charging App is a useful tool for owners of electric cars. Not only does it provide information about charging stations that are currently available for use, but users can also see charger information.

The app also features a handy scheduler that lets electric car owners book their vehicle in to use the charger.

Forward Thinking Technology Available from Vector

Vector has technology that’s available so customers can ensure their electric vehicle is charged at a time when demand is low. Customers can plug in their electric vehicle, and program it to be ready to go for whenever it’s needed. The technology knows when the demand is low on the network, so can charge your EV at a suitable time.

Another technology that Vector currently has available enables electric vehicle owners to charge up their car, as well as take power back out of it for their home or business. This technology has huge potential – an electric Nissan Leaf can provide ten hours’ worth of power for an average household!

Government Focussed on Increasing EV’s in New Zealand

In May of 2016, the New Zealand government launched its “Electric Vehicles Programme.” The program’s main goal is to see approximately 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

To help reach this goal, measures like reducing some of the barriers and investigating ways to further support the uptake of electric vehicles were implemented.

New Zealand’s Well Suited to Electric Vehicles

New Zealand workers have a low average commute, which can be easily handled by an electric vehicle’s battery. Overnight home charging is convenient because 85% of New Zealand homes have off-street parking. Because 80% of New Zealand has highly renewable energy resources, there is enough supply for every vehicle in the country to be charged with electricity.

New Zealand is in a great position to benefit from electric vehicles. Compared to other countries, New Zealand’s high amount of renewable resources means that the country produces 80 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Let Switchme Save YOU $$$!

If you’re looking for additional ways to reduce your electricity costs other than getting an EV, Switchme can help! Using our free power comparison calculator, see for yourself if another electricity provider has a cheaper rate.

Contact us today for more details!

Mercury is Now Available on Switchme!

If you’ve been waiting for even more reasons to check out Switchme, New Zealand’s non-government funded energy switching site, here’s one more: Mercury has now been launched on the site.

The company provides nationwide energy supply, and offers both electricity and dual-fuel options. With 13 power stations in its operation (all within Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty), the company has a total of 1,638MW of generating capacity.

Not only is Mercury one of New Zealand’s biggest electricity retailers, but it is a company that is committed to supporting the community that supports them. Through many sponsorships and partnerships – such as with Rowing New Zealand and Starship – Mercury plays a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

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The Benefits of Joining Mercury

With almost 400,000 users, there are clearly reasons why customers are choosing Mercury as their power provider. The reasons are plentiful! Mercury is dedicated to rewarding customers that choose them for their electricity, gas or solar for their home, business or farm.

They offer the following rewards for choosing them as your energy provider:

  • Earn AirpointsTM: By being rewarded with Airpoints Dollars when you pay your Mercury bill, you’ll now be that much closer to taking that dream trip!
  • Wonderful E.Bikes: Join the thousands of other Kiwis who see the benefits of using e.bikes! Save up to $500 on an e.bike as a Mercury customer.
  • Great Self-Service Tools: Update your personal details, review and pay your bills, check your energy usage and more 24 hours a day using the “My Account” feature.
  • Service with a Smile: An award-winning contact centre is happy to help you with any question or concern you may have.
  • Be Part of the Magic: As a 5-star sponsor of the Starship Foundations since 2001, Mercury and its customers have donated more than ten million dollars to the foundation’s cause!

Start Saving on Your Energy Bill Right Away with Switchme!

Interested in seeing what kind of energy deal Mercury can offer you? Check out Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to see what type of energy rate Mercury Energy can offer you! In only three easy steps, you can quickly and easily find out how your current energy rate stacks up against other power providers.

Check out Switchme today to start saving on energy costs!

Benefits of Switching Power Companies

New Zealand has one of the fasting switching times around the globe. This year alone, hundreds of thousands of Kiwi households have switched their power company. Have you been thinking about changing power companies yourself? If so, there’s no time like the present to start reaping the rewards of another energy company!

Reduce Your Energy Costs

By easily using Switchme’s free, online calculator, see how your household’s energy costs compare to similar households. Within seconds of entering certain data, find out if you’re overpaying on your electricity and gas bills. With an average of only four and half days to change over to the new company you choose, you’ll experience price savings almost right away!

More Ways to Pay

Be sure to check out what companies are offering regarding electricity plans and payment options. Even though a company may offer the cheapest rate, their billing arrangement may not work the best with your own household’s needs.

Many companies also offer new consumers freebies and account credits. If you’re currently on a fixed term contract involving a break fee, talk to the new, prospective company. To get your business, many may work with you to offer a deal you simply can’t refuse!

Start Saving More Money!

When managing a household, one of the best ways to save money is to look at reducing your current overhead costs. By switching power companies to a more affordable energy provider, you can start seeing the savings add up fast!

In 2015 alone, the Electricity Authority (EA) estimated that an average of $175 was saved when Kiwis switched to the cheapest power retailer available. Switch to a cheaper power company and put away extra money for Christmas gifts, buy new shoes for your kids or start saving for a family vacation. What you choose to spend that extra savings on is entirely up to you!

Plenty of Choices on the Market

Because more people are switching power companies these days, new companies are getting involved in the power industry. This, in turn, makes the price for electricity and gas more competitive for Kiwis.

Although the big five retailers are still the most dominant, there has been a surge of small, independent companies. In 2016, these small companies had a customer base of almost 80,000, which was 12% more than the previous year. With the popularity of these new retailers increasing, the major retailers cannot afford to be as complacent now as they were in the past.

Let Switchme Help You Find a Better Deal on Energy!

Whenever you’re ready to consider the options of switching to a new energy provider, Switchme is here to help you! Between our free, online comparison calculator and our phone line support, we provide an easy, stress-free way of finding the best energy deal on the market. Contact us today for more details!

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Genesis Energy Dumped by New Zealand Super Fund

The New Zealand Super Fund has recently dumped Genesis Energy, owners of the Huntly Power Station (New Zealand’s largest thermal power station) in order to cut the fund’s carbon intensity and exposure to carbon reserves. As of August 15, 2017, the $35 billion fund, which was established to help cover future state pension costs, is now declared “low-carbon.”

Dumped More than $950 Million in Investments

As part of the New Zealand Super Fund’s move to reduce its carbon footprint, more than $950 million in investments has ended, including its holding in a state-owned electricity company. Although NZ Super has investments in numerous other carbon intensive industry companies, this latest move has been welcomed by environmental and investment groups. It has brought NZ Super a long way towards hitting its target of cutting its exposure to carbon reserves by 40 percent and carbon intensity by 20 percent.

Fund Now Declared “Low-Carbon”

Last year, the fund’s investment strategy pledged to reduce its investment in fossil fuels and instead, target clean energy to prepare for climate change. The overall fund’s carbon intensity is now just under 20 percent and the exposure to carbon reserves was reduced by 21.5 percent. In total, this latest decision saw the fund exit 279 companies.

Still Invested in Other Carbon Intensive Companies

Of the remaining investments, the fund has investments in at least 29 airlines, 139 companies in the “oil, gas and consumables” sector and almost 200 companies in the “metals and mining” sectors. In addition, it still holds high-carbon stocks periodically due to the discretionary decisions of active managers.

Companies Can Return to Portfolio in Future

According to Matt Whineray, Chief Investment Officer, cutting exposure to companies at risk from climate change was not the same as other categorical exclusions, such as tobacco manufacturers. If companies improve their management of climate risk, they will have the opportunity to become a part of the portfolio again in the future.

Financial Markets Under-Priced Climate Change into the Future

Because the global energy system is transitioning away from fossil fuels, reducing exposure to carbon emissions and reserves is a low-cost insurance policy. In addition, the recent weather shows how crucial is to that New Zealand has a variety of energy sources.

Genesis Energy Not Concerned; Understands its Importance

As the long, dry winter of 2017 has already shown New Zealand, Genesis Energy can help provide NZ businesses and households with energy when needed. In 2017, almost half of the company’s energy generation has been from renewable sources, up from 16 percent during 2016. The company is not concerned by NZ Super’s move, as other investors continue to see and support the advantages of this company’s thermal capacity.

Let Switchme Save YOU Money!

Looking for ways to save on your energy bills this winter? If so, Switchme can help! Contact us today for more details?and to use?our free power comparison calculator.?

Electricity or Gas Problem? Here’s What to Do

When you have an electrical or gas problem at your home, it’s important that you do the right thing – and do it quickly. Being prepared by knowing what to do if an electrical or gas emergency occurs is important. Take the time to review the following information with family and friends...it could save a life.

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What to Do in an Electrical Emergency

If your whole area loses power, be assured that the local lines company will be working on the problem right away. If you are located in a remote or rural area, contact your local faults number to log the fault. Ensure appliances and electrical equipment are turned off. Not only do they present a fire hazard, but they could become damaged if they’re left on and the power comes back on.

If your residence is the only one without power, check the fuse box to see if it’s still working. If it seems to be working, you could have a fault in the supply to your home.

If an electrical accident occurs, do not touch the injured person if they are still touching a live electrical source. Be sure to switch the source of electricity off; if unable to, move the source away from you and the injured person using a non-conducting object like a wooden boom handle. Then, dial 111 for an ambulance as soon as possible.

What to Do in a Gas Emergency

If you smell gas around an appliance, turn it off right away. After doing so, call a Registered Craftsman. If you don’t know one, look in the Yellow Pages under "gas fitters."

If the gas smell remains after turning off the appliance, turn off the gas supply at the cylinder or gas meter and open windows and doors for ventilation purposes. In addition, call Consumer NZ at 0800 80 9000 to report the fault. In the meanwhile, do not switch on or off any lights or electrical appliances as this could ignite the gas and cause an explosion. Avoid using a telephone (including a mobile phone), matches, lighters or cigarettes near any suspected gas leak. Also, don’t try to track the gas leak yourself – leave it to the professionals!

Let?Switchme?Save YOU Money!

Looking for ways to save on your energy bills? If so, Switchme can help! Contact us today for more details?and to use?our free comparison calculator.?

How Do I Switch Power Companies?

Not happy with your current energy provider? Or, looking for a better deal on power? If so, it’s comforting to hear that New Zealand has one of the fastest switching times in the world! Partnering with Switchme ensures you can switch power companies as quickly, easily and pain-free as possible.

Switching Power Companies is Easy with Switchme!

Using Switchme’s free power comparison calculator to help you find the best energy deal will get you on your way to energy savings in no time. In just three steps, you can become the newest customer of another retailer!

Step #1: Enter Your Address and Usage Details

First, simply enter your usage and address details from your bill. Easily choose as many metres as needed and also the period length. If you’re moving to a new property or simply do not have an old bill handy, simply select “Estimate My Usage.” After indicating the number of people in your household, Switchme can figure the rest of the calculation out!

Step #2: Review Your Results

Right away, review the offers from various Retailers who can supply energy to your property. Take some time to review the various prices and details before choosing the best Retailer for your needs. Once you make your decision, click “SWITCH.”

Step #3: Complete Your Application

Complete your application by filling in your name, contact and property details before hitting “SUBMIT.” Your application will then be delivered to your new Retailer so that it can be switched immediately. To ensure the process runs smoothly, Switchme will monitor your request and be available for any follow-up questions.

Switchme: A Process You Can Trust

By helping over 60,000 kiwis to date, Switchme has a reputation that you can trust when it comes to switching power companies! We have years of experience dealing with New Zealand’s energy industry and offer rates and incentives you won’t find anywhere else. While providing free, independent advice, we pride ourselves on finding the best energy deals for kiwis!

Switchme Can Find You a Better Deal on Energy!

Whether you’re looking for a better price on energy for your home or business, Switchme is here to help! Between our free, online comparison calculator and our phone line support, we provide the easiest way to compare and switch companies. Let us help you find the best energy deal! Contact the experts at Switchme today.

Making an Electricity or Gas Complaint

Not happy with the electricity or gas services being provided to your home or business and wondering what to do next? Follow the tips below to learn how to make a complaint about your energy provider.

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Navigating the Complaint Process

The first step in the complaint process is to contact the company directly that is providing you with the services. Check your bill for a free phone number or e-mail address to direct your complaint to. Writing “complaint” in the email subject line or stating it right away when calling ensures you are directed to the right resource. Contacting the company first will hopefully result in a quick solution and prevent the need of going any further with the complaint.

Contacting Utilities Dispute

In general, the provider has 20 working days to resolve the complaint with you. If your complaint is still not resolved, Utilities Dispute can look into it for you. They will first need to ensure that your complaint is about something they can look into and is at proper stage for their involvement. If Utilities Dispute is unable to look into your complaint, they will refer you to the agency that can.

Utilities Dispute Works with You and Your Provider

By working closely with you and your provider, Utilities Dispute will hopefully find an outcome that suits both parties. Usually, an in-person or telephone meeting is arranged between you and the provider (facilitated by a Utilities Dispute conciliator), or information is passed between the two parties by Utilities Dispute. If technical or legal information is needed, Utilities Dispute can get expert advice.

Getting a Recommendation from the Commissioner

If the complaint is not resolved, the Commissioner can be referred to for a proposed recommendation. This recommendation is then given to you and your provider along with the opportunity to comment. If both parties accept the proposed recommendation, it becomes binding; if you or your provider does not accept the proposed recommendation, comments can be submitted.

Seeking a Solution

If you do not accept the Commissioner’s final recommendation, Utilities Dispute will close the file. In this case, you may have the option to take the complaint to another forum such as Disputes Tribunal or district court. If you accept, but the provider does not, a determination will be made by the Commissioner. If this is the case, the provider must comply with the Commissioner’s recommendation.

Switchme Can Help You Switch Energy Companies!

Even after completing a complaint, are you still unhappy with your energy provider? If so, Switchme can help! Use our free, online power comparison calculator or phone line support to easily compare and switch energy providers. Let us help you find the best energy deal! Contact us today for more information.

Using Electric Blankets Safely

When properly used and maintained, an electric blanket is a comforting way to get through New Zealand’s chilly winter months. However, if safety precautions are not followed when using one of these warm blankets, you could be at risk of injury or a fire.

Safety First!

An electric blanket should only be used to warm the bed. To avoid overheating (which can be life threatening, especially for the very young, ill or elderly), it should be turned off before you get into bed. In addition, keep the blanket turned off when you’re not in the room. Most electric blankets do not have automatic shut-offs when reaching a potentially dangerous high temperature, so could cause a burn or a fire hazard.

Checking Your Electric Blanket for Damage

Before using your blanket, be sure to check for damage to the heating elements. To do so, lay the blanket flat and turn it on for 15 minutes at the highest setting. Watch it closely, then turn it off. Feel for hot spots by running your hand over the blanket. Hot spots mean that the heating element’s kinked or damaged, which could lead to electric shock or fire. Look for any kinks, fraying cords, worn or exposed wires and scorch marks as well. If any type of danger is found, safely dispose of the electric blanket.

A Proper Fit Means a Safe Fit!

A properly fit electric blanket lays flat on the bed without creasing, thereby avoiding damage to the heating elements. Be sure to avoid using pins or other sharp objects to attach the blanket. Keep the cord and control switch clear of the bed so that they don’t get damaged.

Get a Replacement Regularly

Old electric blankets are more likely to be dangerous; in fact, blankets that are ten years or older account for 99% of all electric blanket fires. Replace old blankets every few years, even if they still appear to be working. Don’t ever use a blanket that is damaged. To ensure you stay safe while using an electric blanket, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended safety precautions.

Some Extra Safety Tips to Keep In Mind

  • Check that your electric blanket can be washed before doing so; never use a wet electric blanket
  • Don’t fold up or ball up the blanket when it’s operating because this concentrates the heat unevenly, thereby increasing the risk of burns
  • Avoid laying on top of the blanket as this can cause electrical wire damage
  • Never dry clean a heating blanket because the chemicals used in the process can damage heating insulation and increase fire risk
  • Consider using non-electric alternatives to keep you warm like using flannel sheets, wearing socks or adding extra blankets

Save on Energy Costs this Winter!

Looking for ways to save on energy costs this winter? If so, Switchme’s free, online power comparison calculator can easily show you what your options are regarding New Zealand energy providers. Contact us today for more details!

How Does Electricity Get to My House?

    How Does Electricity Get to My House?

    Image result for electricity distribution process nz

    As effortless as it may seem when light appears after flicking on a switch or heat dissipates after turning on an electric heater, the work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to get the power to where you use it is actually quite extensive! To better understand the process behind getting power to where you need it in your home, check out the step-by-step outline below:

    • Generating Electricity in New Zealand

    The majority of New Zealand’s electricity generation comes from renewable sources. Although most is generated from hydro-electric stations, some electricity is also produced from gas, geothermal, coal, wind, diesel and solar.

    • Hitting the Wholesale Market

    The wholesale market is where electricity retailers buy their power from. Every half hour, prices are calculated to be sold on the wholesale market. These prices can vary widely depending on supply and demand.

    • Transmitting the Power

    Transpower, which owns and operates New Zealand’s national transportation grid, transmits the power from where it is generated to the local transmission grid. This electricity is transmitted at high voltages – up to 220,000 volts! Not all industrial sites get their power this way; some of the larger ones connect directly to the national grid.

    • Distributing the Power to Your Home

    Using overhead wires and underground cables, the power is delivered to homes and businesses using local distribution networks that are connected to the national transmission grid.

    • Buying from the Retail Market

    Since New Zealand has a competitive retail market for power suppliers, consumers are given the choice to buy their electricity from various companies. There are a wide range of retailers and electricity plans available to choose from, depending on what’s available where you live. To get the best rate possible, consumers are advised to check out all their options prior to committing to a certain retailer.

    • At Your Home

    The electricity meter at your home records the amount of electricity used, so consumers can be billed accordingly.

    Lower Your Energy Costs!

    Now that you understand the process behind getting the energy to your home, are you interested in learning how to lower your energy costs? Switchme is New Zealand’s largest non-government funded energy switching site. By processing energy comparisons and giving free, independent advice, we help customers get a better deal on their energy bill. Contact us today to learn how you, too, can save money on your energy costs!

    How to Choose Energy Efficient Appliances

    Choosing energy efficient appliances is a sure-fire way to save you money on your energy bill. With all the different types and brands of appliances available, how do you select the best energy efficient one for your needs? The tips below will help you save energy costs on appliances for years to come.

    Read the Energy Rating Label

    The appliance’s energy rating label gives you information on how much energy a product uses so you can compare models and their energy efficiencies. The more stars there are on the label, the more efficient that appliance is. Every whiteware appliance, television, computer monitor and heat pump available for sale in New Zealand has to display this label.

    There is also a blue ENERGY STAR graphic on the label that is an independent, international indicator of the most energy efficient products in each category. Be sure that when comparing appliances, they are of the same type (similar in capacity and features).

    Image result for energy rating labelRelated image

    Read Consumer Reviews from Multiple Websites

    Be sure to take the time to read reviews on more than one website regarding appliances you are considering. What good is an appliance that uses the least amount of energy in its category, if it doesn’t run well or breaks down easily?

    Decide on the Right Model for Your Household

    Buying the appropriate sized appliance for your household will surely save on energy costs every month! Consider what you will be using the appliance for and how often. If you only have one or two people in your household, a full sized washer and dryer is probably not necessary. Choosing a smaller appliance will not only use less energy, but it will also run more efficiently with a smaller load.

    Utilize the EECA’s Online Running Cost Calculator

    The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA) helpful “Running Costs Calculator” helps determine how the appliance’s energy rating affects the amount of energy used and how much each appliance will cost per year to run. Annual running costs are calculated using 26c per kWh.

    Consider Energy-Saving Features

    An appliance’s features can have a major impact on its energy efficiency. For example, in washing machines, energy saving costs can be found with features such as “cold water wash” and “half load” options; “cool dry” is great in dryers and many appliances feature a “timed delay” option that allows you to program your appliance to work during off-peak hours. Avoid water or ice dispensers in fridges as this feature can cost users 20% more in energy use!

    Use Switchme to Save You Even More in Energy Costs!

    Besides having energy-efficient appliances, are you looking for other ways to save on your household’s energy costs? Switchme’s free, independent advice and power comparison calculator has helped over 60,000 kiwis find a cheaper power company. Why not let Switchme help you, too? Contact us today for more details!

    Contact Energy Using North Island’s Power Supply

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    Low Water Inflow into Clutha River

    Compared to the last 85 years of record keeping, the lowest average inflows into the Clutha River were recently seen this past March, April and May. Because of the continued shortage of water into Clutha River's hydro-electric dams, Contact Energy has had to come up with a solution to continue to meet customers’ energy demands.

    North Island Gas Plants to the Rescue!

    The solution to the water shortage was to turn to Contact Energy’s North Island thermal plants to work harder to fill the energy void. More energy to the North Island (compared to the South Island) is being supplied by the Cook Strait cable.

    Thermal Energy Needed when Weather Does Not Cooperate

    Although the New Zealand electricity market strives to be as renewable as possible, sometimes it is not possible to meet energy demands using only water and wind as resources. When help is needed, the thermal energy gas stations can help fill the energy gap, which is what is happening currently.

    More Rain Would Stop the Lake Levels from Decreasing Any Further

    The recent weather cold fronts from the south have been bringing snow instead of rain. This, in turn, has been causing dramatic increases in electricity demand. Overall, however, this winter is warmer and dryer than previous years, so more rain would help increase the water levels and help the power supply issue.

    If hydro lake levels continue to drop, more pressure would be applied to alternative power sources throughout the country, which could lead to environmental impacts.

    Low Water Levels Resulted in Greater Spot Power Prices

    Because hydro-generated energy makes up about 60% of New Zealand’s electricity, the recent low levels in the hydro lakes have meant wholesale prices continue to increase. Customers who are on wholesale pricing agreements with retailers are noticing the increase on their energy bills. Although spot tariffs can offer long-term savings, customers who choose this must be willing to weather periods of higher than average prices, such as what we are currently facing. Spot tariff customers should keep an eye out for price spikes and get into the habit of shifting some of their energy use to off-peak times.

    To eliminate any risk for future price spikes, customers should consider switching to a traditional fixed rate or smooth-pay plan.

    Let Switchme Save YOU Money!

    Has your electricity rate increased sharply, due to the low lake levels? If so, let Switchme help you compare power prices to see if something more reasonable is available! Contact us today for more details and to use our free power price comparison calculator.

    What’s in Your Power Bill?

    Even though your power bill includes a ton of information, understanding it can be a whole other matter! Not only does your bill include how much power you have used, but it also includes how much you need to pay and more importantly, explains where that fee goes. Understanding your bill will give you a better idea of what your hard-earned money is going towards each time you apply a payment!

    Fixed Versus Variable Charges

    Most power bills will include two different costs: fixed and variable. A fixed rate is charged on each bill and does not depend on how much power is used. On the other hand, variable charges encompass the amount of power you do use. This charge is based on the kilowatt hours consumed and is charged at the rate you've set up with your retailer.

    Electricity Authority Levy...Explained!

    Also included on your bill is an "Electrical Authority Levy" charge, which is normally based on the amount of power utilized. This charge covers the cost of the Electric Authority, which regulates the power industry.

    Breaking Down Each Dollar on Your Bill

    You work hard for your money, so you deserve to know exactly what your money goes toward each time you pay your power bill. Every dollar on your bill is used wisely; see below to learn more about where each dollar of your bill goes:

    • Power generation, or making electricity, accounts for over 30%
    • Almost 10% goes towards covering the cost of building and maintaining the national grid
    • Building and maintaining the power lines that transport electricity from the national grid to your house accounts for just over 26%
    • The retailers’ operating costs (whom you purchased electricity from) account for approximately 16%
    • 13% covers the goods and services tax
    • Slightly over 3% covers the cost of reading and maintaining electricity meters
    • Just under 1% covers market governance and market services. The market governance fee provides energy efficient programs, as well as cost coverage for running organisations that regulate the electricity industry. Market services money goes towards covering the operating costs of the organisations that manage the day-to-day management of the power market.

    Try Switchme's Free Comparison Calculator!

    Now that you understand more about your power bill, are you wondering how you can save money on each bill? If so, Switchme can help!

    We at Switchme work hard to let you know if there is a more economical solution available for providing your power! Contact us today to learn more details and to utilize our free comparison calculator to compare power companies.

    Spot Prices Rise as Lake Levels Fall

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    With the recent drop in hydro lake levels across the South Island, wholesale (spot) electricity customers have noticed electricity rates increasing since May. Those who are on traditional fixed rate electricity tariffs will most likely not notice any increases in the near future; however, for those who are on spot tariffs, increases are predicted to continue throughout the winter.

    Critical Lake Levels are Not Anticipated

    60 percent of New Zealand’s electricity is made up of hydro-generated energy. However, similar low-level conditions seen in 2003 that warranted a national electricity conservation campaign are still a long way off. Barring major unexpected equipment failures, there is less than a 2% risk of experiencing critically low lake levels.

    Reducing Your Electricity Costs

    Consumers on spot tariffs are advised to keep an eye on their provider’s prices and watch for price spikes. Flick Electric, one spot tariff provider, has a mobile app that allows users to receive warning notifications when prices increase. To help reduce the electricity rate increase, it’s best to get into the habit of shifting some of your electricity usage to off-peak times.

    Taking Advantage of Off-Peak Rates

    Are you a spot tariff consumer who is worried about your hydro bill skyrocketing this winter, or are you a fixed rate user looking to reduce costs? Follow the tips below to help keep your hydro bill manageable:

    • Use the dishwasher throughout the night, rather than right after dinner
    • Turn on your clothes dryer during the day, or overnight
    • Use draught stoppers and tighten hinges, latches and hatches to eliminate heat loss
    • If you don’t have central heating, use a heater directly in the room you want to heat and keep the door closed
    • Install energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures, such as shower heads
    • Ensure you have proper insulation throughout your home

    Completely Eliminate the Worry of an Electricity Increase

    Spot tariffs eliminate the buffer between your bill and the wholesale price of power, which changes every half hour. Although this type of pricing system can offer long-term savings, consumers need to be okay with weathering periods of higher than average prices.

    Consumers who do not want to risk further price increases should consider switching to a traditional, fixed rate or smooth-pay plan.

    Let Switchme Save YOU Money!

    Has your electricity rate increased sharply, due to the low lake levels? If so, let Switchme help you compare power prices to see if something more reasonable is available! Contact us today for more details and to use our free comparison calculator.

    Simple Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

    Lower Your Energy Bill and Increase Your Savings

    With winter’s arrival, there’s no time like the present to consider how to lower your energy bill. Depending on the season, there are a lot of solutions that are simple and cost-free. Try out some of the ones listed below to see the savings start adding up on your energy bill!

    Saving Money While Doing the Laundry

    Besides taking advantage of off-peak rates and using cold water when completing your laundry, also consider the size of the load you are washing. Although you should try to do large loads only, make sure that the load will still leave about 25% of the drier empty. This promotes better air flow so that you don’t need to run the drier twice. While doing so, use dryer balls to help speed the drying time and be sure to remove the lint from your dryer trap after each load to maximize its efficiency. Even better, dry your clothes on a clothes line outside.

    Circulate Air throughout Your Home

    During the winter, keep the heat inside your home by drawing the curtains at dusk. To help stop draughts, use draught stopping tape or door snakes along the bottom of the doors. Set your home’s heater thermostat to a reasonable temperature and try wearing a sweater before cranking the temperature higher.

    In warmer weather, circulating fans help keep the air moving throughout your home, eliminating the need for your air conditioner to work as hard. Attic fans help reduce energy by removing hot air and pulling cool air into your home.

    Lighting Up Your Home with Savings

    Switching to LED light bulbs will use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Start by replacing the most widely used bulbs in your home, and then replace the remainder when they burn out. In addition, if your appliances are more than ten years old, consider upgrading them to newer, Energy Star models which use much less energy.

    Stop Dollars from Going down the Drain!

    Try reducing your shower time as well as installing low-flow shower heads. When there’s less water flowing through your shower head, there’s less water to heat and a better cost savings to you.

    Cooking Up Savings

    Keeping fridges and freezers full ensures that less time is needed for the appliances to run to stay cool, since the food acts as insulation. A fridge’s condenser coils need to be clean to work less at cooling your food, so regular maintenance is suggested. When cooking food, turn the oven off a few minutes before your food is completely cooked and let the heat finish the cooking for you. Cooking food with the lid on means it will cook faster, since heat is not escaping. Better yet – use the microwave instead of the oven, since it uses less electricity and does not release as much heat back into your home.

    Let Switchme Save YOU Money on Your Energy Bill

    Besides ensuring you are doing your own part in reducing your energy costs, have you checked to make sure that you are using the most cost-effective energy provider? Let Switchme help you complete this task! Contact us today for more details.