Save on your winter power bill

5 ways to save on your winter power bill

It is that time of the year again. Winter comes, the power bill goes up, and every year we are surprised by how much.

Economists are warning the worst of financial fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is still to come. Most of us will be trying to hold on to any savings made in lockdown and to reduce use in other places.

These months are cold, and you should not be going cold to save on the power bill, but these are a few smaller sacrifices that can help reduce your consumption.


With the colder mornings, it might be more tempting than ever to stay under the hot, steamy water before starting the day. But it is going to cost you with each 15-minute shower adding an extra $1 to your bill. For a family of four that is $4 a day (if everyone showers), or $1460 a year.

Dr Marcos Pelenur, spokesperson for ECCA Energywise says “Reducing your shower time just a bit could save up to $900 a year for a family of four. A 15-minute shower costs about $1 - a five-minute shower costs about 33c."

As it gets colder, your hot water tank must work harder to maintain the hotness of the water. So your tank will be consuming more energy now than it was in March before you even turn on the tap.


Towel rails are a hidden culprit when it comes to increasing your electricity use.

Keeping a standard 80-watt heated towel rail on all the time costs 48 cents per day. That might not sound like much, but three bathrooms with towel rails left running 24/7 would add $43.20 onto your bill at the end of the month.

If you'd rather keep this small luxury, turning the heated towel rail off at the wall when not being used, or buying a timer will help reduce your consumption.


Unless you have especially dirty clothes, use the cold wash cycle for the laundry. A hot water wash can use 10 times more electricity than a cold wash.

According to the EECA, four loads of laundry washed in a cold cycle a week will save you about $60-$80 a year. And don't worry, it works just the same: "Modern washing machines and detergents clean well using cold water," Dr Pelenur says.

The other thing to watch out for with all the extra meals being made at home, is running the dishwasher more too, at 16.5 cents per load. Two half-loads will use more power than one full load, so wait until it is full.

Dr Pelenur says "–and put it on ‘eco’ wash setting if available". If you rinse the dishes before loading the dishwasher, use cold water.


The price of warming your bedroom with a small electric heater for a week is higher than a family of four running their electric blankets every night for a month.

Electric blankets use as little as 0.4 kilowatts to stay toasty over four hours, so each one you put on for the evening is only going to cost you about 10 cents. A family of four running their blankets every night for a week will cost about $3 in electricity charges. A cuddly hot water bottle will ring you up a 1.5 cents per use, from a boiled 2 litre kettle.

Using a 2kw heater on the other hand? That comes in at $2.50 a day for five hours of use, or $17.50 a week.


Many New Zealanders do not compare or swap their power companies.

The Electricity Authority estimated Kiwi households could save $372 million a year if all households switched to the cheapest power deal available to them. "Lots of savvy homeowners regularly check the price they pay for their electricity supply to ensure they are on the best deal," said James Stevenson-Wallace, chief executive of the Electricity Authority.

SwitchMe is a good place to find out if you are getting the best deal to suit your needs.

Consumer NZ’s electricity customer survey results released

Consumer NZ’s electricity customer survey results released.

Trustpower has been outed for low customer satisfaction in a survey of more than 1500 adult Kiwis. A Consumer NZ survey found the power company received the worst score of the big five power companies in the past three years.

“Trustpower’s rating was significantly lower than the industry average of 52 per cent," Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Only 43 per cent of surveyed Trustpower customers reported they were happy with the service. But it wasn't the only brand. Contact Energy also scored below average with 45 per cent satisfaction.

The top three companies were all smaller brands - Flick Electric got the highest score for customer satisfaction (76 per cent), followed by Nova Energy (74 per cent), then Electric Kiwi (71 per cent).

The survey also revealed that cost of electricity remained a major cause of complaint. "For one in three [respondents], household power costs were a big worry," Mr Duffy said. "Over the past year, 17 per cent said they had trouble paying their power bills."

Mr Duffy also warned that late-payment fees were often disguised as “prompt-payment discounts”, and that such discounts acted as a penalty for consumers who missed paying by the due date.

Twelve per cent of survey respondents reported they had overdue fees added to their bill because they hadn’t be able to pay on time.

Meanwhile, of the five big brands, only Meridian had removed prompt-payment discounts fully. The Electricity Price Review, which reported to the Government in May 2019, recommended prompt-payment discounts be banned and retailers allowed to only charge reasonable late-payment fees.

Want to make sure you’re with the best retailer for your site? Since 2009, Switchme has been providing thousands of Kiwis with an easy way to compare prices between power companies. We help facilitate the switching process without any service interruptions! See if you can start saving on your energy bill today!

Make the most of your Winter Energy Payment

Winter Energy Payment

As part of the package to soften the blow of coronavirus, the government has announced a doubling of the Winter Energy Payment for 2020. This is effective as of 1 May to 1 October

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the winter energy payment was an already established route to the back pocket of those most vulnerable to the crisis, seniors and low-income families.

"The Winter Energy Payment supports our elderly, and I make no apologies for making sure that it will be easier for our elderly to heat their homes this winter. It also reaches other low income New Zealanders," he said.

The supplement, aimed at helping keep low income earners warm, will temporarily double to $40.91 a week for a single person and $63.64 a week for couples and families.

Another great way to ensure you are making the most of the increased Winter Energy Payment, is to check your electricity provider is giving you the best rate possible, and if not to switch to one that will. Switchme, New Zealand’s biggest non-government funded energy switching site, can help you compare your current retailer to what else is available.

Just use free, online calculator to compare and find the best retailer rates for you to ensure you make the most of the increase payment. Contact Switchme today for more details.

Still Here To Help

We’re still here to help

There have been a few changes recently that are likely to affect your power bills. Level 4 lock down and working from home has likely increased your homes energy use, and many retailers have changed their rates as of 1 April 2020. You can still use the website compare your bill to make sure you are on the best deal available.

Comparing and Switching Power Companies is Easy with Switchme!

Using Switchme’s free 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 address and usage details from your bill. This is your electricity ICP number, the units (kWh) used and days from your bill. If you’re moving to a new property or simply do not have an old bill handy, simply select “Estimate My Usage.” After loading the address, indicate the number of people in your household, Switchme can figure the rest of the calculation out!

Step #2: Review Your Results

The results page will list the offers from various Retailers who can supply energy to your property, and the cost of the indicated usage. Take some time to review the various prices and details before choosing the best Retailer for your needs. Once you make your decision, click the “SWITCH NOW” button next to that offer.

Step #3: Complete Your Application

Complete your application by filling in the details required by the retailer before hitting “SUBMIT.” Your application will then be delivered to your new Retailer so that they can process the application. 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

Switchme has a reputation that you can trust when it comes to comparing and 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.

How to avoid bigger power bills during lockdown

Vessel operating costs to increase, Moore Stephens says - SAFETY4SEA

How to avoid bigger bills during lockdown.

There are ways to avoid extra energy usage and thus higher bills during the lockdown, according to EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority).

EECA spokesperson Dr Marcos Pelenur says it’s important to stay warm as the weather cools but it’s also important not to spend more money on energy bills than you need to.

Dr Pelenur says reducing unnecessary use of hot water will save you money and free up more cash for heating over the winter. “For example use the cold water wash cycle when you wash clothes, unless you have an especially dirty load. Modern washing machines and detergents clean well using cold water. A hot water wash can use 10 times more electricity than a cold wash.”

Cutting down the long showers will also save money, Dr Pelenur says. “Reducing your shower time just a bit could save up to $900 a year for a family of four. A 15 minute shower costs about $1 - a 5 minute shower costs about 33c.”

If you own a dishwasher, wait until it’s full loaded to run it – and put it on ‘eco’ wash setting if available, Mr Pelenur says. “And if you rinse dishes before loading the dishwater, use cold water,” Dr Pelenur says.

Other top saving tips

  • If your circumstances or energy use has changed, check you are still on the best power deal to suit your needs
  • Dry clothes outside or in a clothes dryer that is vented to the outside – avoid indoor airing racks or clothes dryers that vent into your house. The moisture in the clothes will end up in your home, making it damp.
  • Avoid unflued gas heaters which release toxic fumes and make your house damp. Cheap portable electric heaters are safer and cost less to run.
  • If you have a heated towel rail, only use it when needed. A heated towel rail left on 24/7 can cost you $170 per year to run. You can buy timers for towel rails that come on automatically at certain times of the day.
  • If you have a second fridge you aren’t using, it could cost you $200 a year to run if it’s an old, inefficient model.
  • If you are working from home, you may not have the luxury of choosing where to site your work space, but if you can, use a small space that’s easy to heat on its own. Move your desk to a position that gets good natural light.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs.
  • Turn your computer, WiFi and other equipment off at the wall at night, or when not in use.

You can also use our free online calculator at to compare the current offers available for your home.

$200 Credit and a huge 15% PPD

Fantastic limited time offer with some of the best pricing we’ve seen!

Genesis Energy is offering an exclusive deal to SwitchMe customers for a limited time. This offer is seriously not to be missed!!!

A welcome credit, special fixed pricing, and an increased Prompt Payment Discount are all available for a limited time.

This unique offer is only available for the month of February, and only through the SwitchMe website.

The offer includes;

- $200 welcome credit for electricity customers, $250 for electricity and natural gas

- An increased 15% Prompt Payment Discount

- Fixed rates for a 12-month term

This is for customers switching to Genesis Energy only and is for a fixed 12-month term. See our website for the terms and conditions.

To see how this special offer compares to your current pricing and to take advantage of the best deal we have seen for a while, head over to the website now

Latest Electricity Authority poll results

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Latest Electricity Authority poll results

The latest poll from the Electricity Authority show confidence in the electricity industry is low.

Only 41 per cent of consumers gave the industry a score of more than "five out of 10", when asked whether they thought the electricity market ensured electricity was generated and supplied efficiently. The most negative response since the authority began polling consumers in 2011.

Only about a quarter of those polled thought that the current level of competition between electricity retailers ensured the prices they paid only rose in line with electricity companies' costs. And about the same thought the right mix of power stations would be built in time to meet growing demand for power.

"Performance of the electricity industry across all six key aspects tested dropped from the highs in 2017", pollster UMR said. The pool was done by UMR in March and was only published by the Electricity Authority on Tuesday this week.

The Electricity Retailers Association (ERA) noted that while the UMR survey showed "a fall in some measures" since the survey was last conducted in 2017, the polls analysis noted that was mostly due to respondents giving neutral or unsure responses.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled gave a score of more than 5 out of 10 when asked if they were competitive, which was a better result than for banks and petrol companies. "We have one of the world's leading energy systems in terms of price, resilience and sustainability, with the 10th cheapest electricity in the OECD and a very reliable supply of electricity," chief executive Cameron Burrows said.

"That's partly down to New Zealand's abundant natural resources and it's also a result of a well-functioning electricity market that fosters competition and innovation," he said.

Figures from the Electricity Authority also showed smaller retailers gaining market share against the big five, Burrows said. "That's great for customers to have power companies compete by keeping prices as low as possible."

To check you are on the best plan for you, Use Switchme’s free online comparison calculator to get the best energy rate. Contact us today for more details!

The link to the results is as follows -

Highlights from the Poll:

  • 64% believed electricity retailers were competitive, down 9%
  • 44% rated reliability of supply as ‘good’, down 15%
  • 41% rated ‘electricity is generated and supplied efficiently as ‘good’, down 18%
  • 26% rated ‘competition between retailers ensures prices paid rise in line with costs’ as ‘good’, down 6%
  • 24% rated ‘competition among generators ensures efficient power stations are built’ as ‘good’, down 10%
  • 34% rated enough electricity to meet ongoing needs as ‘good’, down 9%
  • 25% rated the market ensuring the right mix of power stations as ‘good’, down 13%

What makes up your power bill

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What makes up your power bill

There are six main parts that make up your standard power bill. Depending on your retailer, these may or may not be separated out on your bill.


This is the cost of generating the actual electricity you use. This can vary every half hour in relation to demand and the spot price of the wholesale market.

Transmission and Distribution.

These charges cover the costs to transport power around the national grid and to your property. They’re influenced by a few different things, such as your User Plan and seasonal pricing changes, so this pricing is different for each customer depending where in New Zealand you are.


Your electricity meter, which records how much power you’re using is owned by a metering company, and this fee is the rental cost that you pay for using it.

EA Levy.

All power retailers pay this to the Electricity Authority, to cover the costs incurred by the EA to regulate the industry. This is passed on to you in your power bill and may or may not be shown as a separate item on your invoice.

Retailer fee.

To cover operational costs, all power retailers need to charge a fee or a margin.


GST is applied to the invoice total.

Although power retailers all operate differently, most will show daily or fixed costs, as well as variable charges on their power bills. So, what’s the difference?

Daily charges are usually shown as “cents per day” and they are set fees that apply per day and unrelated to how much power you use.

Variable charges, on the other hand, are shown as ‘cents per kWh” and are directly related to the amount of power you’ve used over the invoice period.

When retailers quote rates they usually do so before GST is added and before any discount (ie for prompt payment) is applied.

When you complete a comparison on SwitchMe we ensure the GST is added and any discounts issued so you are comparing apples to apples. Are you on the best option for you at the moment?

Price Changes Indicated

Price Changes Indicated

Genesis Energy have indicated they will be increasing their standard Electricity pricing from January 7th 2020. In most cases by up to about 5 per cent.

The price increase are in spite of the aims of the Governments Electricity Price Review to lower customer pricing.

ENA chief executive Graeme Peters is concerned the reduced line charges and transmission fees due to come into effect as of April 2020 will not flow into consumers' pockets.

The Commerce Commission said that power bills should drop between $3 and $34 a month in most part of the country from April, as a result of new rulings that will reduce the revenues lines companies and Transpower can earn from their networks over the next five years.

But Genesis spokeswoman Kiely Evans said Genesis would be increasing its "standard electricity pricing" from January 7 "in most cases by up to about 5 per cent".

Genesis, which remains 51 per cent owned by the Government, said the "before and after" impact of its price rises would depend on the customer and the region. But on average, monthly bills in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch would go up by about $9.

Evans said Genesis had reviewed its pricing following an "extended period of higher than usual wholesale pricing", but they do also look forward to distributors (network companies) confirming the details of any price reductions, "would welcome any opportunity that would enable us to reduce customers' prices"

Peters said the Electricity Price Review ordered by the Government last year and published in October was supposed to lead to more affordable power prices "but that's not happening".

"Prices are going up – as we see with Genesis and possibly others. "Network companies will be sending lower bills to retailers from April, but more than $200 million of lines revenue reductions look like they won't go to consumers – they will instead end up in the pockets of generators."

Peters added that he felt for small retailers, as they were being squeezed by higher electricity generation costs and didn't have a natural hedge from generation.

Energy Minister Megan Woods said Genesis' decision was a commercial one. "Consumers will make their own decisions about power providers based on this, We've had reassurances from other power companies they have no immediate plans to follow suit".

However, Contact Energy’s chief customer officer Vena Crawley confirmed it had raised some prices over the past few weeks, also referring to higher wholesale costs."With the Commerce Commission announcement, we will be keeping an eye on each of the network companies' proposed changes for early next year. We don't yet know how this will impact our customers," he said.

Megan Woods has said "I'd encourage people to shop around if they aren't happy with their power company."

This is where Switchme can help, use our easy online comparison tool to check you are on the best rates for your site

Prices to increase in the North

Prices to increase in the North

The Electricity Authority is proposing to move to a benefit-based approach to pay for the cost of transmitting electricity around the country. It wants to encourage the right sort of investment to cater for future need and direct the cost more closely to those who benefit.

Auckland and Northland power customers would end up paying more – and user in the south (like Tiwai aluminium smelter) would pay less, under the proposed changes.

"Consumers should pay for the transmission assets they benefit from, and not pay for those they do not. That's not how the current charges work," the authority said.

It proposes two new charges to replace the existing system - a benefit-based charge to recover the cost of new grid investments and the depreciated costs of existing investments, and a residual charge to cover any remaining transmission charges.

"Current charges spread the costs of regional transmission investments across all New Zealand consumers. This means some are paying more, while others are paying less, than the benefit they get from the transmission grid. Our proposal rebalances transmission charges so that those who benefit pay. It does not increase charges overall."

Under the changes, wholesale market prices would work alongside the transmission pricing proposed to manage peaks, he said. "The current peak charge sends the wrong price signals. Some consumers end up paying a premium when power is most valuable to them even when there is plenty of transmission capacity available.”

"What we're proposing is a more targeted and accurate way to signal grid congestion with significant benefits for consumers. We estimate that peak prices would be on average 38 per cent lower over 30 years than they are now."

Questions of how to manage power peaks are becoming more pressing as demand for electric vehicles increases. An increase in solar and other renewable energy production means generation is likely to become more diversified in future. Stevenson-Wallace said everyone would benefit from the benefits-based charging regime over time.

But a group made up of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Horizon Networks, Federated Farmers, Northpower, Norske Skog Tasman, Oji Fibre Solutions, Top Energy, Trustpower, Counties Power, Entrust and Vector, said the proposed changes would make power more expensive for customers in the north of New Zealand.

Spokesman Alan McDonald, at the EMA, said those customers would be put into a position where they would already have had to pay once for past grid investments they had no control over, and would then pay for future upgrades in their area.

"There is potential for ongoing price shocks. But when people in Northland turn their lights on they won't be getting any better service than people elsewhere. Yet their bills will have gone up."

The authority's proposal includes a price cap for consumers and businesses connected directly to the grid to protect them from big price increases.

That meant that the Tiwai Aluminium smelter would get $11.3 million in discounts a year. By comparison, Northpower, Top Energy and Vector would pay an extra $10.5m, McDonald said.

McDonald said New Zealanders did not pay different amounts for their roads or telecommunications depending on whether they lived so it was not clear why they should pay differently for power.

Regional meetings will be held around the country after October.

Plan to stop Winbacks

Plan to stop Winbacks

The Electricity Authority is consulting on a proposal to ban retailer initiated saves and win-backs for 180 days after a customer switches retailers.

“We have a competitive electricity industry, but this will do more to encourage innovation and increase competitive pressure. This proposal puts the pressure on retailers to fight for their customers and offer them something new and different,” says James Stevenson-Wallace, Chief Executive at the Authority.

The concern is the current retailer does not offer the best rates or discounts to the customer until they start the process of switching to another retailer. They wait until they threaten to leave before they offer better rates to save or winback the customer.

The hope is by banning the retailer from trying to save the customer for a period of 180 days, the retailer would be more inclined to offer the better rates for the customer up front before they start to switch away.

The proposal does not place any restrictions on consumers wanting to shop around, they are still free to change suppliers to suit their needs. The ban on win-backs would not stop customers from returning to their original supplier of their own accord, but would prevent their original retailer from targeting marketing directly towards them.

The Government also supported the Electricity Price Review’s recommendation to impose a ban or moratorium on win backs followed by a full evaluation of the impacts on consumers.

The Authority is keen to hear from all interested parties and encourages submissions. The Saves and Win-backs Code Amendment: Consultation Paper 2019 is on the Authority’s website.

Submissions close at 5pm on Tuesday 3 December. The Authority’s Board will deliver its final decision by early 2020.

Want to make sure you’re with the best retailer for your site? Since 2009, Switchme has been providing thousands of Kiwis with an easy way to compare prices between power companies. We help facilitate the switching process without any service interruptions! See if you can start saving on your energy bill today!

Proof Shopping Around Means Savings

Proof Shopping Around Means Savings

The verdict is in: if you haven’t been shopping around for a cheaper electricity retailer, you’re likely paying more than those who do.

According to a recently released report from Miriam Dean QC, those who shop around end up paying a better rate on their energy costs than those who do not. Here are the details.

New Zealand’s Residential Energy Market Prices is Record-Breaking High

Over the past 28 years, residential electricity prices have increased by almost 80% (after inflation). During this same time period, commercial prices have decreased by 24 per cent and industrial prices have increased by 18 per cent.

As part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First, the review found that since 2000, the country’s residential prices have increased quicker than many other OECD countries. That’s why it’s crucial that customers take the time to research other electricity retailers for cost savings.

Two-Tier Market Developing

After inflation, an increase of almost 50% has developed between the least expensive retailer’s price and the incumbent retailer’s price since 2002.

When shopping around, consumers often get confused while comparing prices and contracts. Many consumers are confused by the details in the various plans which can lead to difficulty in choosing the best one for their needs.

Other consumers are missing out on money-saving discounts. Prompt payment discounts, which can be as high as 26 per cent of the energy bill, are often missed out by low-income consumers.

Late-payment penalties can also quickly drive up the energy bill’s costs.

Many Barriers Blocking Fair Competition in NZ’s Residential Energy Market

Although New Zealand has approximately 35 electricity retailers, the big five (Genesis, Contact, Mercury, Meridian and Trustpower) command more than 90 per cent of the market. They are better equipped to offer incentives for customers to remain with their company, preventing a more competitive market from developing.

This makes it difficult for the small to medium-sized electricity retailers to expand.

Switchme Makes Energy Comparisons Easy!

When it comes to your energy bill, wouldn’t you want to save more money? Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator makes it easy to compare other energy retailers! Check out our services today

What's in it for me?

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What's in it for me?

The Government have advised their proposed changes to the electricity market. What are the key changes and how will they affect you?

No more 'win-backs or saves'

Some retailers will contact switching customer and offer special deals or rates to try and save the customer. Under the proposed changes there will be a period that the retailer you are leaving is not able to try and ‘save you’.

The government believes that by banning win-backs/saves, the retailer will have to offer more competitive pricing to all it’s customers and not just those that have started the switch process. They believe this will benefit customers that don’t shop around.

No more prompt payment discounts

Some Retailers offer a discount to customers that pay their bills on time. The government believes that Prompt Payment Discounts are just hidden late payment fees.

If you pay your bills on time, this change will not have much affect on what you pay.

Low fixed-charge tariffs will be phased out

Currently, electricity companies have to offer plans with a very low fixed daily charge and a higher variable charge for electricity (Low Users). These benefit people who don't use much electricity, less than 8,000 kWH per year (or 9,000 kWH in parts of the South Island). Customers who reduce their electricity consumption by using gas instead of electricity for hot water and heating, or their own solar power systems, benefit from the Low User option.

The government has asked for proposals to phase out this requirement over a period of five years. The Review has suggested allowing low-fixed charges to rise from their current level of about 30 cents per day gradually over five years, after which the low user requirement would be removed.

If you currently are a ‘standard user’ of electricity (using more that 8,000 kWH per year) there will be no change to your invoices from this proposal. However, if you were investigating Solar or Gas conversions to lower your electricity consumption and change to the Low User option, the potential savings of doing so may be overstated now.

Any customer currently on Low User rates (best option if currently using less that 8,000 kWH per year) will eventually lose this option and pay a higher daily charge.

Reforming the wholesale market

There are concerns the large Gen-tailers (retailers that also have generation) can control the wholesale electricity market, and thus the cost of the electricity consumers end up paying.

The government review suggests an agreed spread for the buying and selling of electricity in the wholesale market. They believe this will make it fairer for all the retailers including the independents, and thus the consumers.

Full details of the proposed market changes are yet to be provided so the affect on consumers bills cannot be determined.

Help for those in hardship

The review also raised concern about hardship, and people not being able to pay for their electricity.

A fund will be established to help those in energy hardship make their homes more energy efficient, new rules to protect the vulnerable and those with medical needs, and the possibility of other support.

Making it easier to switch

The review suggests too few people shop around to get the best price possible.

The review has suggested retailers need to advise customers how to switch when they send out their bills.

Of course, our service is already here and you can use to ensure you have the best option for you right now.

Electricity Pricing Reforms

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Electricity Pricing Reforms

The government has announced it is backing 20 changes to the electricity market which is the biggest change in the industry for 20 years.

Most people who use a lot of electricity, don't shop around for power, or who sometimes pay their bills late, should see lower power prices. But those who use gas, or who have their own home-solar systems, could end up paying more as plans that reward low electricity usage are phased out.

The changes, which include new regulations designed to bolster competition, stem the Electricity Price Review that the Government ordered last year.

No More Winbacks

One of the biggest changes will temporarily ban electricity companies from offering discounts to win back customers who have given them notice that they intend to switch suppliers. This is to counter the concerns that the existing retailer can wait for customers to threaten to jump ship before offering them a competitive price.

Removing Prompt Payment Discounts

Electricity companies will be also encouraged to stop offering Prompt Payment Discounts. Energy Minister Megan Woods said the "prompt payment discounts" really amounted to "hidden late payment penalties" for those who didn't get them.

Removing Low User Plans

Also, in what appears to be the most controversial change, the Government plans to phase out the requirement for electricity companies to sell plans that offer a low fixed daily charge and a higher variable charge for power used.

About 60 per cent of residential consumers were on a low-user tariffs, but the Government has ordered officials to develop proposals to phase them out. Households that consume less than about 8000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year can expect to pay more than they current do, depending on how little power they use.

In its final report, the Electricity Price Review acknowledged this could discourage people from installing solar systems or insulating or double-glazing their homes. But it said the low-user plans "unintentionally shift costs to households with low incomes and high electricity consumption".

Wholesale Market Changes

Woods said new rules would force large power companies to sell electricity to independent retailers through the wholesale market "at affordable rates".

It is understood the Government is backing a recommendation that would force the generators to buy and sell electricity in the wholesale market at an agreed spread.

That "market-marketing" requirement emerged as a main issue within the industry when the Electricity Price Review published an earlier paper in February.

"Right now, our electricity system is dominated by a small number of big 'gentailers' – companies that generate and sell electricity," Woods said. "It can be too hard for small and independent retailers to compete and survive, meaning fewer choices for consumers and less innovation in the market."

The Electricity Price Review recommended against going further by forcing the separation of electricity generators from retailers.

Woods said the reforms would "level the playing field" for consumers, and the Government would check "in our second term" that the expected savings were passed on to them.

Best Option Now

The Government has a variety of measure to tackle "energy hardship" and improve the information available to consumers about switching retailers.

Of course instead of waiting for the changes, you can use our free, online comparison calculator right now to see if you’re currently getting the best rate on your energy costs. Contact us today for more details!

Far North Will Be Getting Lower Prices Soon

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Far North Will Be Getting Lower Prices Soon

Good news for Far North residents: you will soon be saving on your electricity costs!

Top Energy’s new geothermal plant near Kaikohe is not only expected to finish eight months early but will produce 25 percent more power than originally planned. The end result? A 32-megawatt generator at Ngawha in October 2020 that will reduce electricity costs for 64,000 Far North residents.

The $300 million expansion is expected to alter the shape of Top Energy’s business and the way electricity is delivered to affected area residents.

Incentive for Ormat Technologies to Complete Expansion Early

There was an incentive for Israeli energy firm Ormat Technologies to complete the job early. The deal? Any power revenue produced before the expected handover date of October 2020 was to be shared between Ormat Technologies and Top Energy.

Now that the build is on schedule to be completed by June 2021, Ormat will see a financial payoff from its hard work. The power station, expected to produce almost 32MW, will start generating energy around August 2020.

Power consumption is expected to continue to increase as New Zealand sees more electric cars on the road and works toward becoming a carbon-neutral country.

If monitoring shows no negative effects on the geothermal field and nearby hot pools, another 32MW unit is expected to be constructed on the same field after 2023.

New Power Station Declared a “Game Changer” by Top Energy’s Chief Executive

Top Energy’s Chief Executive Russell Shaw is excited to see the new plant’s positive effects on area residents. Instead of being one of the most expensive regions for lines, Far North will soon become one of the least expensive.

The discount on power to customers will depend on how fast debt from the generation projects is paid down. Top Energy expects the lines to be free, or almost free, by the year 2030.

Beginning next year, the company will draw five percent of its power from the national grid. Almost permanent status is expected by 2026 when generational activities will make up more than two-thirds of the business.

Fortunate Events Resulted in Project Being Completed Early

Originally, the majority of the new plant’s earthworks was expected to take place over three months. However, New Zealand’s good weather resulted in it being done in only two.

All six geothermal wells drilled by Icelandic Drilling were successful, further expediting the project along. Three of these wells will be used to extract hot fluids whereas the other half will re-inject the fluids back into the geothermal field.

Keep a close eye on your energy rate with Switchme! Sign up today to be one of the first to be notified of energy price increases in your area.

Consumer NZ’s Survey of Energy Retailers

Consumer NZ’s Survey of Energy Retailers

A recent Consumer NZ survey on energy retailers involving 1,500 customers revealed information about the country’s power plans. From customer satisfaction levels to certain plans that are the most popular prepaid power option, here are three of the biggest results from the survey’s data.

Globug Most Used Prepaid Power

Operated by Mercury Energy, prepaid power provider Globug is the most popular prepaid power option currently available. Its 25,400 customers are comprised of people who typically lack adequate credit histories needed to receive a standard power account with another retailer.

The survey results showed that one-third of Globug prepaid power customers have had to borrow money from family and friends to pay their bills. An additional twenty percent had to take out a loan.

As a pre-pay service designed to target customers that need help with managing their household’s energy costs, the results from Globug are not surprising according to Mercury officials.

Globug’s Customer Base Unhappy with Value for Money

Globug’s overall customer satisfaction levels had increased and were above 60 percent. However, the customer base was most likely to be dissatisfied with the value for money they received.

Mercury officials understand that value for money is of high importance to Globug customers which is why this a focus area for the company, too.

To keep electricity costs fair for already financially strapped prepay customers, Consumer NZ is requesting improved customer protections. Currently, one of the more affordable ways to top up is with internet banking – yet many prepayment households lack home internet. Completing the top up in-store costs 75c.

Better consumer protections would increase fairness for prepay customers, who pay additional fees and comparatively higher rates that non-prepayment customers.

Overall Customer Satisfaction Levels

The survey also displayed that just over half (51 percent) of Kiwis thought they were getting good service from their energy companies.

Although most of the content customer base was with Genesis, Contact, Mercury, Trustpower and Meridian, the smaller brands received the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Powershop followed by Nova Energy were the best ranked.

Costly Energy Rates are Worrisome for Kiwis

Over 30 percent of New Zealanders are worried about their household’s power costs and some of our homes aren’t as warm as we would like.

About 15 percent of customers are trying to save money by reducing their heating costs.

If you’re interested in saving on your energy costs in a simple, convenient way, check out Switchme’s services today.

Most NZers Dont Switch

Many NZers Remain with Same Electricity Provider Despite Benefits of Switching, Survey Says

Canstar Blue’s recently released survey results showed that of 4,200 respondents, only 43 percent compared electricity prices. Despite the overwhelming majority of respondents expressing worry about their power bills each month, only 13 percent actually switched providers.

With New Zealand’s competitive energy market, it’s easy to switch power companies and save on your electricity costs. Unless you’re on a fixed-term contract with break fees, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check out prices from other electricity providers. Here’s why you should consider switching and how to go about doing so in only two steps!

Experience Greater Savings

It’s never a bad day to save money on your energy costs by switching to a more affordable energy provider. But during the winter months when heating costs quickly add up, the savings are even more welcomed.

More than half of those surveyed use extra blankets and clothing layers to keep warm rather than increase the temperature. Forty percent believe our homes lack proper insulation.

Think of what you can do with the money you could potentially save from switching. Maybe you can finally afford to raise your thermostat to a more comfortable temperature, maybe you can upgrade your heating system or maybe, you will have a few extra dollars each month for your own enjoyment. The possibilities are truly endless!

Say Goodbye to A Provider You’re Unhappy With

With almost 50 retail brands in the market, there’s no reason for you to stay with a provider you’re unhappy with. Whether it’s unhelpful customer service or limited payment options, switching to a new provider is definitely worth considering.

With the ability to research your options before committing to a switch, what do you have to lose?

Switchme Makes Saving on Energy Easy!

Switchme can help you save money on your household’s energy costs!

By offering impartial advice, efficient service and amazing results, we are one of New Zealand’s most trusted sources when it comes to finding the best energy deal.

With Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator, you can quickly compare and switch power companies. In only two steps, you can be on your way to savings – with no power interruption, either!

Sign up for our email alerts to get notice of price increases in your area. Check out our website for further details about how you can start saving on your energy costs today.

Best Heating Options

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The Best Heating Options for Your Home

It comes every year. Yet every year, it seems to take us by surprise.

When winter blows in, we seem shocked by the increase in our home’s energy costs. To mitigate those increases as best as possible, you need to have an efficient heating system in place. Here are the best heating options when it comes to keeping you and your family warm this winter:

#1) Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are the best option when it comes to heating a home in New Zealand. Although it’s one of the more expensive heating options to install, heat pumps provide the lowest running costs. Because they provide 3.5 – 4.5 kilowatts of energy for every kilowatt of energy they draw in, heat pumps are also the most energy efficient heating option.

Heat pumps are easy to operate – simply use the thermostat and timer to control the temperature. However, they must be sized correctly to work efficiently and won’t work during a power outage.

#2) Modern Woodburners

When they’re well operated, modern wood burners provide an energy efficient, inexpensive, environmentally friendly way to heat your home. Handy during a power outage, wood burners use one of the country’s most renewable forms of energy.

Extra caution needs to be taken when operating this form of heater to avoid harmful carbon monoxide – in addition to possible burns.

#3) Central Heating

The expensive upfront costs prevent many Kiwis from enjoying central heating’s cost and energy efficiencies.

There are three central heating options to consider: ducted heat pumps and ducted gas units, ducted gas furnaces and central heating with radiators, each with their own advantages.

Central heating’s temperature can be adjusted at the touch of a thermostat and even zone-controlled so that certain areas of your home are set at different temperatures.

#4) Flued Gas Heaters and Fireplaces

More efficient than electricity is gas heating, a convenient way to heat large spaces.

Although flued gas heaters and fireplaces use the convenience of thermostats and timers to control temperature, there is a fixed charge for reticulated gas supply. Plus, their greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change.

#5) Electric Heaters

Although expensive to use, electric heaters are affordable to purchase. Their ability to easily plug into the wall makes them convenient for rooms that are infrequently used or for small spaces. Other than unflued gas heaters, electric heaters are the most expensive type of heater to use when heating your home.

Insulate First Before Heating

There’s no sense in investing in a better heating option if your home is still not properly insulated! Begin by insulation your home’s ceiling and underfloor and then proceed to its walls. The right insulation can make your home cheaper, healthier and more comfortable to live in.

Check out Warmer Kiwi Homes, a grant program that provides funding for insulation and heaters for eligible Kiwis.

When shopping around for a more energy efficient heating option, be sure to shop around for energy prices, too!

Reduce Your Winter Power Bill

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4 Ways to Reduce Your Winter Power Bill

With winter now in full force, you may already be experiencing more costly energy bills. Other than waiting for spring to arrive, what if there was a way to keep your power bills more affordable – starting today? Follow these four simple energy-saving tips to keep your power bills affordable this season.

#1) Think Twice Before Cranking the Heat

When you’re cold, it’s understandable that the first thing you think of doing is turning up the heat. But before you reach for the thermostat, why not add another layer of clothing or extra blankets?

If your heater has to work harder, your energy bill will reflect that. Close doors of rooms you aren’t using to keep the area you’re occupying more comfortable.

Once you get your home warmed up, turn the thermostat down one degree. Although it may seem small, this small variance can lead to big cost savings on your energy bill!

#2) Research First Before Buying a Heater

When it comes to choosing an affordable, energy efficient heater, take your time to do some research. A cheaper heating source may end up costing you much more down the road in heating costs.

Fixed heaters have lower running costs and create more heat than small electric heaters. When choosing the right one for your home, make sure it’s adequately sized to heat your space and is energy efficient. Heat pumps are a great investment and produce instant heat with the convenience of a thermostat.

Electric heat is one of the most expensive forms of heating but may be sufficient to heat smaller rooms or rooms you only use occasionally.

#3) Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

If your home isn’t properly insulated, you could end up heating the outdoors instead of your home! Properly insulate the ceiling and underfloor first, followed by the walls.

Since hot water heating makes up 30 per cent of your energy bill, check your hot water settings. Does your hot water need to be on 24 hours a day? Likely not, so adjust its schedule according to your family’s needs.

Keep your hot water tank running efficiently by keeping the filter clean and scheduling regular maintenance. If you notice a sudden increase in bills without a change in hot water usage, have the tank serviced by a professional to see if there’s an issue with your tank.

#4) Shop Around for Energy Savings

Winter is a great time to see if you could be saving more on your energy costs with a new power company – and Switchme makes it easy! Our free, online comparison calculator has helped hundreds of Kiwis find a better energy deal. See if you can find one for yourself! Check out our website for more details.

Streamlined Energy Data Coming to Kiwis

Streamlined Energy Billing Data Coming to Kiwi Households

Upcoming planned changes to New Zealand households’ and firms’ electricity billing will result in quicker, more effective access to billing details.

The planned series of changes include outlining the information required when a customer’s agent requests retailer data and banning retailers from requesting supplementary information or specifying the form those requests must utilize.

A new, automated tool is also planned to communicate the permissions of a customer’s agent to their retailer.

Previous Industry Rule Changes in 2016 were Ineffective

The new changes come as a result of industry rule changes in 2016 which did not result in desired streamlined access to billing data.

Extreme friction was produced between agents and retailers due to the insufficient amount of guidance on what establishes a proper information request. Individual retailers and agents each created their own approach to the industry’s request; some retailers developed implementations that require a lot of customer and agent action whereas others chose to deal with authorisations on an ad-hoc basis.

As a result, processes and effort were often duplicated and unnecessary increases in transaction costs were produced. Industry innovation and greater consumer participation were also negatively affected.

Positive Results Expected

More streamlined access to electricity billing data is expected to lead to a range of benefits including better consumer access to energy services. Decisions about new technologies including solar or home energy management systems will be easier to make due to access to historical usage data.

Customers will be able to make better-informed decisions about their energy usage, leading to cost savings and better energy efficiency.

Vulnerable customers will be provided with an easier option to share their energy data and obtain advice from social agencies and not-for-profits.

Better Access to New Zealand’s Competitive Retail Electricity Markets

New Zealand has one of the most active and competitive retail electricity markets worldwide. However, the Electricity Authority believes that many consumers aren’t benefiting from the cheaper prices and innovative services some retailers offer.

Annually, approximately 20 percent of Kiwis change suppliers. Throughout the 16 years that data has been recorded, it’s estimated that more than a fifth of households have never switched energy suppliers.

Are you one of them? With Switchme’s easy, online energy comparison calculator, you can find out right away if you’re getting the best deal on your energy costs.

All it takes is five minutes of your time! Check out our site for more details about how you can be saving on your energy costs starting today!