No more PPD for Meridian


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Prompt Payment Discounts No Longer Offered by Meridian

By recently ending their prompt payment discounts, electricity retailer Meridian Energy is bringing more fairness to the electricity retail market.

Wondering why the sudden change and what that means for you? Here’s what you should know about why Meridian has stopped offering a prompt payment discount.

Recently Implemented Change Will Result in More Fairness

The recently released first report of the Electricity Price Review prompted the energy giant to quickly implement the change. The discount ended as of October 1.

Meridian Energy Chief Executive Neal Barclay admitted that the change was long overdue and that the discounts were not as they appeared. Barclay also admitted that the prompt payment discounts were actually penalties charged for late payment of bills.

The discount, which was normally 10 to 20 per cent of a consumer’s bill, could be as high as 26 per cent – which was much higher than the power retailers’ cost of capital.

The prompt payment created an unfair environment since they hurt those who already struggle to pay for their energy bill.

Penalties Created Large Profits for Meridian

Meridian will lose $5 million annually in revenue with the cancellation of the prompt payment discount. Although power companies don’t make excessive profits in New Zealand, prompt payment discounts were a big money generator. Even so, Barclay is happy to see that they will no longer be punishing the customers that need support the most.

Although the system was being reviewed by Meridian for 18 months, the Electricity Price Review is what prompted Meridian to take action.

The preliminary review found that after inflation, residential prices were 79 per cent higher than in 1990. Over the last 18 years, New Zealand’s residential prices have increased quicker than most other OECD countries.

Guaranteed Discounts will be Implemented Instead

Prompt payments were initially introduced with good intentions. However, they eventually disproportionately affected those who could least afford their energy costs. Customers who were already struggling to pay their energy bills, such as seniors or single parents, were missing out on prompt payment discounts because they paid their bills late.

The loss of this discount could add large penalties for consumers who weren’t able to pay on time.

Instead of a prompt payment discount, Meridian will be offering everyone “guaranteed discounts”.

Switchme Makes Energy Savings Easy!

Looking for more ways to save on your energy bill? Check out Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to see if switching retailers could bring you savings. Contact us today for more information.

New Electric Vehicle Subscription


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New Electric Vehicle Subscription Offered with Mercury

Energy retailer Mercury is taking tips from Netflix and Spotify by offering a subscription service to electric vehicles.

Through a partnership with rental company Snap Rentals, Mercury’s newly launched vehicle subscription service allows customers to rent an electric vehicle (EV) for a certain period of time. The cost for electricity is the only additional fee on top of the subscription fee.

When the time commitment is up, customers simply return the vehicle.

The flexibility associated with the membership is already making this subscription service popular to Kiwis. Here’s what else you should know about Mercury’s new EV subscription!

New Service Proving Popular Right from the Start

This newly launched project has already proved successful!

With the service’s reasonable prices and the ability to swap out a vehicle for another model if desired, it’s no surprise that Kiwis are excited to use this service.

In fact, most of the EVs available are booked by customers within only a few hours.

Electric Vehicle Subscription Service is Appealing to Many

This new offering by Mercury will appeal to a range of Kiwis!

Interested in purchasing an electric vehicle, but worried about having buyer’s remorse? This subscription service enables you to experience what owning an EV will be like, without the financial commitment of purchasing one!

Are you someone who doesn’t require a vehicle on a regular basis, but when you do, you want the vehicle to be environmentally friendly? The subscription service allows you to have an environmentally-friendly vehicle on an as-needed basis.

Know that you’ll need a vehicle for a period of a few months but don’t want to pay for an expensive rental car? With this service, a second-hand first-generation Nissan Leaf costs $469 – which is much less than a mid-range vehicle from a traditional rental car company. Plus, even cheaper rates are available for customers who agree to a minimum six-month term on the EV subscription.

How the New Electric Service Subscription Works

The monthly fee included with the subscription includes comprehensive insurance, maintenance, unlimited kilometres and roadside assistance.

Another advantage is the concierge service that accompanies the subscription service. Delivery and pick-up for your rented EV is conveniently done from your location.

Besides the second-hand first-generation Nissan Leaf, other vehicles available include the Tesla Model S and the Gen 4 Leaf. Future plans by Mercury include stocking the Volkswagen e-golf and the Renault Zoe.

The service, currently only available in Auckland, will be available in other cities soon.

Besides saving on your vehicle costs with this subscription service, how about saving on your household’s energy costs? Contact Switchme today to learn more about our energy savings services!

Electricity Market Welcomes Its Newest Player


Electricity Market Welcomes Its Newest Player, Z Energy

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With a $46 million investment in Flick Electric, Z Energy has made its entrance into the retail electricity market.

As New Zealand’s largest petrol company, Z Energy will have a 70.1 per cent stake in Flick Electric, a four-year-old privately-held power retailer.

Z Energy executives say its recent purchase will help its company’s long-term sustainability and growth. The investment will aid Flick with its future growth plans, too.

Future of Flick’s Growth is Stronger with Recent Investment

Research completed by Flick over the past four years showed that there was a need for a new engagement model in energy retail. Z’s investment will play a large part in helping Flick with future growth.

The investment will benefit Z Energy, too. Besides maximising the innovation potential of the energy sector, Z Energy executives will be focused on the contribution it can make to a lower carbon transport future.

The investment will also help Z extend into one of their three preferred market spaces – future fuels, mobility and the last mile.

Z Energy Will Own Almost Three-Quarters of Flick Electric’s Total Shareholding

Two payment instalments will be made before Z-Energy owns almost three-quarters of Flick Electric’s stake.

Initially, twenty-two per cent of Flick in new issued capital will be paid by Z Energy at the cost of $15.6 million.

An additional 48.1 per cent of existing shares will be purchased for $30.4 million. This will result in Z Energy holding 70.1 per cent of the total shares.

Eastland Group, Evander Management and Angel HQ are other investors with Flick. Flick’s revenue, which totalled $43.4 million in the year ending March 31, is expected to be earnings positive for Z Energy within four years.

Flick’s Technology Development Attracted Z Energy

Flick’s start-up mentality along with its use of technology was an investment attraction for Z Energy.

Through the use of smart metering technology and proprietary software, Flick is able to offer customers electricity based on half-hourly wholesale rates, plus a margin.

Couple Flick’s assets with Z Energy’s innovation and marketing experience, operational scale and resources, and a successful future is predicted for both.

Wondering if you’re currently getting the best rate on your household’s or business’ energy costs? Check out Switchme’s free, online energy comparison calculator to find out today! Contact us today for more details.

Five Power Hungry Home Appliances


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Reduce Electricity Bills by Targeting these Five Power Hungry Home Appliances

It’s always a good time to save money, but especially so during New Zealand’s colder months when heating bills are high. The good news? By targeting five different home appliances, you can start experiencing money savings today! Here’s how:

Clothes Dryers

A clothes dryer is indispensable – especially during the colder months when we can’t hang clothes outside to dry! Since you’re using it so regularly, this appliance is a great place to start applying money-saving tactics.

When using your clothes dryer, keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t run any longer than necessary. Consult your owner’s manual for tips on load sizes to avoid overloading.

Want to really experience savings? Purchase a new model that is vented since they’re cheaper to run. Make sure that your new dryer is the most energy efficient that you can buy by comparing energy ratings.

Computers and Other Electronics

Spending more time inside during the cooler months usually means more time spent on electronics, too. Each piece of technology you own produces its own heat, which can quickly rack up your energy bill.

If you use your computer or another electronic device intermittently, start turning it off or using the “sleep” mode at least. At the end of each day, unplug them from the wall, too.

Electronics such as TVs and music systems are easy to turn off using their remotes. Although that will reduce your power consumption, they are still using electricity if the little red light remains on. Be sure to turn the device off at the wall for maximum cost savings.

Fridges and Freezers

Many of us keep our fridge or freezer open while searching for something to eat, which makes all the cold air pour out. Prevent this from happening by having a meal idea in mind before you open the door, which you should close as quickly as possible.

When shopping for your next fridge or freezer, avoid buying the wrong size since overfilling it will use more energy.

Washing Machines

Like your clothes dryer, an inefficiently run washing machine quickly racks up your power bill!

Take care to avoid overloading the machine so that less electricity is used. Your owner’s manual will help you choose the appropriate settings for each load, ensuring only the necessary amount of power and water are used. Using only cold water with an excellent detergent will mean less money spent on each load, too.

Reduce the time your clothes will spend in your dryer by using the highest spin cycle on everything except delicate items.

Thinking of replacing your machine? Keep in mind that a new washing machine should be energy efficient, be an appropriate size for your household’s needs and have high spin speeds.

Televisions

When shopping for a new TV, remember that the bigger the screen is, the more power it will require.

An even better way to reduce your energy costs related to watching TV? Reduce your screen time!

By implementing our tips above, you will experience some cost-savings right away. To experience even greater savings, ensure you’re not overpaying on your energy costs. Use our free, online comparison calculator to find out if you could be saving more on your energy bill!

Gisborne: Tops Switch List


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Gisborne: The Current leader for Power Supply Switches

In New Zealand, we have choices when it comes to choosing an energy supplier. And with more than 40 energy retailers providing Kiwis with their energy supply, it pays to shop around!

New Zealand’s competitive energy market has numerous retailers each offering their own discounts and pricing to compete for your business. Although many Kiwis country-wide realize this, the Gisborne region saw the highest number of switching rates this past June.

Gisborne Region’s Recent Record High Number of Power Company Switches

With 15 energy companies to choose from in the Gisborne region, many customers decided to recently make the switch to a new electricity supplier.

June’s highest number of power supply switching rates in New Zealand occurred in this region, where 2.31 percent of consumers switched.

Whether Gisborne region’s Kiwis tired of paying high energy rates or dealing with poor customer service, many of them decided to try out a new electricity company.

Electricity Authority Encourages Consumers to Do Their Own Research

You may think that you are getting the best energy deal possible, but how do you know that for sure?

According to the Electricity Authority, you should be doing your research to ensure that what you’re paying for electricity actually is the best rate that you can get.

With New Zealand’s highly competitive energy market, retailers are forced to offer incentive deals to consumers – or risk losing their business.

Consumers: Get Involved in Your Electricity Billing!

Consumers should take an active role in the electricity market by researching other providers’ rates or by asking for a better deal from their current retailer.

New customers aren’t the only one to get discounts! Ask your retailer about available discounts for being a loyal customer or for making the switch to a more efficient payment or mailing method.

Energy Switching Company “Switchme” Makes Switching Energy Easy!

As a consumer, it pays to do your research! Who knows? You could end up with more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Whether you’re looking for a lower rate or better customer service, it’s not difficult to shop around other electricity suppliers.

Energy switching companies like Switchme make switching energy retailers easy. Within only a matter of minutes, find out what other energy rates are available to you. Check out our free, online comparison calculator today for more details!

Can You Read Your Power Bill?


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Can You Read Your Power Bill?

When temperatures started to plummet, what do you reach for first?

Most likely, it’s a blanket or extra sweater. If so, you’re not alone!

Instead of cranking the heat during New Zealand’s winter months, almost half of Kiwis add extra clothing layers for warmth. With our power bills already being so high, most Kiwis try to keep thermostat changes as the last resort. But what if there were other ways to keep your power bill costs low?

Understanding Your Power Bill is the Key to Saving Money

Recent research from Canstar Blue also found that three in ten Kiwis do not understand their power bills.

That means that 30% of Kiwis may be paying more money than necessary for their household’s energy costs. How do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not if you don’t understand what you’re paying for in the first place? The short answer: you don’t.

A Breakdown of Your Power Bill

Besides reflecting your household’s power usage, your power bill includes when you use your power, too. The rates included on the bill include costs from power generation to delivery to your door.

The first part of your bill, the daily fixed charge, is the amount that covers the generation and transportation costs of power to your home.

There will also be variable charges or costs that change depending on your usage. These are made up of Kilowatt per hour (or kWh). Taxes will also be included on the total amount of your power bill.

Ways to Save on Power Costs

After understanding what you’re currently paying for, it’s time to see if there are ways to save on your household’s energy costs!

Spot Price Contracts

For disciplined Kiwis that use off-peak times for the majority of their energy usage, spot price contracts may be the way to go.

This type of billing arrangement has you pay less than the retail market rate for your power. However, if you’re on a spot price contract and you use your appliances during peak time, you could end up paying much more.

Low-User Tariffs or Controlled Plans

For smaller households, there are cost-savings plans that involve a meter supplying electricity to appliances for a specific time each day. A great way to save on washing machine, hot water cylinder and heat pump operating costs!

Payment Arrangement Discounts

Many energy providers offer discounts to efficient customers. Inquire about whether you are eligible for a prompt payment, direct debit, dual fuel or email correspondence discount.

Other Ways to Save on Energy

With over 40 energy companies competing for your business, it pays to spend some time researching whether you can get a cheaper rate elsewhere!

Easily utilize Switchme’s free, online comparison calculator to immediately see if you’re getting the best rate on your energy costs. Contact us today for more information.

Increased Number of Energy Disputes


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Increased Number of Energy Disputes

Over the past year, more than 5,500 people contacted Utilities Disputes, a free and independent complaints service. As released in the organization’s 2017-18 Annual Report, most of the complaints were regarding electricity or gas.

Complaints…By the Numbers

Out of a total of 5,528 people who contacted Utilities Disputes last year, 5,232 were about electricity or gas. The remainder was about broadband shared property disputes (236) and water (3).

The majority of the complaints were about billing, which increased by approximately ten percent compared to the previous year. Other issues included customer service, disconnections, meter issues and supply issues.

Genesis Energy had the most complaints but also has the greatest market share.

Utilities Disputes Works Hard to Keep the Energy Market Fair for Consumers

Although the organization has nothing to do with setting energy market prices, Utilities Disputes does work diligently to ensure citizens are treated fairly.

The organization can investigate issues such as billing problems (including whether the person is on the most appropriate plan), customer service experiences and lack of notices.

It’s those issues and more that can create considerable stress, causing people to reach out to Utilities Dispute for assistance.

Poor Communication is One of the Biggest Concerns

Often times, better communication is needed between power companies and consumers. Many complaints received by the organization involved communications’ matters including placement of equipment on property, inadequate communication about tree trimming, promised rates not being received and phone calls not being returned.

Since there are so many different providers offering various energy plans to consumers, energy companies need to practice effective communication methods.

Better Awareness of Utilities Dispute is Needed

Recent consumer surveys revealed that general awareness of Utilities Disputes’ services was low. The organization is working hard to change that perception.

Last year, Utilities Disputes won a Plain English award – a huge step towards building better visibility for the organization.

People are encouraged to complain first to their energy company, giving them an opportunity to resolve the matter. If unresolved, the complaint can be brought forward to Utilities Disputes.

Complaints can lead to Positive Change

The complaint process handled by Utilities Disputes often leads to proactive change by utility businesses.

For example, better complaint management and more proactive customer service are two ways that complaints can lead to businesses improving their practices. The process assists consumers with making more informed choices, too.

Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, also helps consumers make smart energy choices! Complete a comparison on our website today to see the retailer options available.

Switchme welcomes Flick Electric Co


Flick Electric Co are now available on Switchme

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Giving you power over your power.

Flick's pricing is totally different to other power companies. Instead of charging you a fixed rate, they pass through all the wholesale costs of getting electricity to your place without any mark-up. Which saves their customers an average $350 annually!

"Our goal is lofty - to help bring an end to energy poverty in Aotearoa. Too many Kiwis ( <http://www.otago.ac.nz/centre-sustainability/otago055642.pdf> 20% according to MBIE) are subject to energy choices that impact on their wellbeing. Like choosing between food on the table and adequately heating their home. And that plain ain't right. But there's a way to reduce power bills without cutting back on the power that keeps Kiwi homes safe and comfortable. Six Wellingtonians launched a tech-based power company in 2014 to disrupt the status quo, by offering a fair and transparent way to purchase power through the wholesale electricity market. From those humble beginnings, the Flick family has grown in size, but our core values remain the same. We're built on the bones of fairness, honesty and transparency. And that's something we're flickin' proud of."


As the wholesale market pricing can change every half hour, you must already have a smart meter to be a customer with Flick so they can determine when the power is used to match with the wholesale rate at that time. The pricing we have loaded is based on the average wholesale rate from the last 12 months. This means there will be periods where the rates are higher, but also when they are lower. By using the App you can determine what the rates is at any given time, and you can choose when the best time is for you to use your power. You can take power over your power.



Warming Kiwi Homes


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New Grant Programme Launched to Help Keep Kiwi Homes Warm

Even though winter may be about the end here in New Zealand, the cold temperatures will continue to be felt by many Kiwis – especially those with low-income.

But thanks to the government’s new “Warmer Kiwi Homes” insulation programme, low-income homeowners can soon receive assistance with keeping their home warm for future winters.

$142 Million Investment into the New Kiwi Homes Grant Programme

The new grant programme can cover two-thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation and ground moisture barriers for eligible homeowners.

The program helps to meet the promises outlined in the Coalition and Confidence and Supply Agreements with New Zealand First and the Green Party.

Grant Program Will Help Kiwis Enjoy a Warmer, Healthier Winter

Managed by The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the four-year government grant programme is designed to help keep Kiwi homes warmer, drier and healthier.

Because the EECA is encouraging community organisations to contribute funding, the overall costs for homeowners will be as low as possible in many areas.

Although the grant’s first year is focussed on insulation costs, heating grants will become available in July 2019.

Grant Programme Will Help Ease Health System Pressure

Not only do cold temperatures bring health conditions that are costly to families, but they add strain to the country’s health system, too.

Recognizing the need for a solid solution to this problem, the government raised the level of funding per grant from 25 percent to cover two-thirds of the cost.

Are You Eligible for a Grant?

The grant programme helps bring warmth to cold, damp homes that lead to rheumatic fever and asthma – thereby targeting Kiwis who need it most.

Designed to help people who live in low decile areas or have a health condition, the grant eligibility criteria (as listed on the EECA’s website) includes:

  • Being the homeowner (owner-occupier) of a home built before 2008 AND
  • Having a Community Services Card or SuperGold combo card OR
  • Owning and living in a home in an identified lower-income area OR
  • Be referred by the Healthy Homes Initiative

To find out if you’re eligible for a grant, visit https://www.energywise.govt.nz/funding-and-support/funding-for-insulation/.

In the meanwhile, want to ensure you’re saving as much money as possible on your energy costs each month?

Complete a comparison on Switchme today to compare and switch energy providers. Contact us today for more details about our services!

2018 Entrust Dividends


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2018 Largest Dividend Process Begins this Month by Entrust

If you’re one of 327,000 Kiwis who is an Entrust consumer, you’ve probably received your dividend payment preference form by now.

The form allows people to receive a payment option that they prefer for the annual dividend which will be paid in late September.

Last year, the dividend was $350. Not only did the amount help support many households, but it also boosted Auckland’s economy by more than $110 million.

Do You Qualify for an Entrust Dividend Payout?

If your name was on the August 2 power bill for a home and/or business in the Entrust district (encompassing Auckland, Manukau, northern parts of Papakura and eastern Franklin) that is connected to Vector’s electricity network, you will probably be receiving this year’s dividend.

Entrust has a 75.1 percent shareholding in Vector. When Vector pays a dividend, almost the entire dividend is passed on to Entrust consumers.

Choose the Payment Option that Suits You Best

Payment method options on the form include cheque, direct credit to your bank account or a credit to your electricity bill. The most convenient way, via direct credit, allows consumers to receive the money without waiting for a mailed cheque or visiting the bank.

For the most part, only people who want to change their payment method will need to respond to the letter.

Ensuring the Payment Process Goes Smoothly

Want to guarantee that the payment process will be a smooth one in September? Check that the following two tasks are completed:

  • Ensure the name of the Entrust form matches the name on your bank account. If it doesn’t, get your electricity retailer to update your account name.
  • If you want to change the payment method, return the form by Monday, August 6.

What Will You Do with Your Dividend Payout?

What to do with your dividend, which is normally a significant amount for most households, is entirely up to you!

Whether you choose to pay off a bill, put it aside for Christmas or enjoy a weekend away, go ahead – enjoy!

Any Questions?

If you have not received your form by now or have any questions regarding the dividend process, check out the help page found here.

As the payment comes via the lines company, it is not affected by the retailer you use. So ensure you’re paying the best rate for your household’s energy costs! Contact Switchme today for a comparison and more details about our energy switching services.

Do Loyal Customer Pay More?


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Are Loyal Power Customers Paying More?

When was the last time you switched power companies?

If it was any longer than two years ago, then you may not be getting the best pricing option currently available.

Since the best prices and offers are usually only being offered to customers who switch to a new electricity provider, those who remain loyal may end up being the ones who pay the most.

In many cases, these customers are elderly or low-income; in other words, they are the ones who could benefit from power savings the most.

Are You Ready to Switch?

If you want to ensure you’re getting the best power deal possible, check with a website such as Switchme.

As New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, Switchme provides thousands of Kiwis each year with the best help and advice navigating the switching process.

By using the online comparison calculator, you’ll know right away if a better power deal is available. If it is, you can easily switch to the new company without having any interrupted service!

Other Options to Switching

If you’re not quite ready to switch to a new retailer but want to receive new incentives from being a loyal customer, there are options available.

First, contact your current power company and inquire about the plan you’re on. Find out if the price and service you’re receiving is actually the best one for your household’s needs.

Depending on what you require from your power company, there may be more suitable plan available. For example, is Standard or Low Using pricing the best option for your consumption? Can you get more incentives by having a direct debit or getting correspondence via email? Are you able to bundle more than one service (such as electricity and gas)? These can make a difference in cost.

Research Special Incentives

It’s also worth asking if your current power company offers any special incentives. For example, do you use a bicycle or own an electric vehicle? If so, your provider may offer you a discount or special rate.

Then, compare what you’re currently paying to what you could get from other power companies. Utilize the Switchme website to compare prices and available offers. Do your research to check and compare or call us to discuss the options.

If you’re tempted by what you see but still want to remain loyal to your current power provider, give them one last attempt. Contact them and tell them about the other company's deal and see if they are willing to offer you anything to keep you around as a customer.

Why wait any longer? Start saving money today! Contact Switchme for more details.

Win Backs and Saves


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“Win Backs” and “Saves”

We’re lucky in New Zealand. Whereas other parts of the world have monopolized electricity markets, we have the choice of almost 50 different electricity retailers. And because of the fierce competition in New Zealand’s electricity market, retailers work hard to keep us happy.

But with many retailers offering incentives to prevent customers from leaving or tantalizing deals to draw them back, the way New Zealand’s electricity retailers remain competitive is starting to be questioned.

Electricity Market Regulator Investigating Fairness of Current Market Practice

In many cases, customers who do not shop around end up paying more than customers who do – a problem identified by New Zealand’s electricity market regulator, The Electricity Authority.

“Saves” are identified as customers who are prevented from leaving before the switching process has completed. “Win-backs” are customers who return to their old retailer after the switch has gone through.

Statistics show that by offering a discount or credit on their power bills, some retailers can win back up to 40 per cent of its customers.

Although The Electricity Authority implemented a “save protection scheme” in January 2015 that provided winning retailers with the option of being protected from saves, it did not regulate win-backs. Doing so has resulted in many retailers waiting until after the switch is completed before trying to win the customer back.

The current review, led by the Market Development Advisory Group, will review the entire customer acquisition process (both saves and win-backs) and scrutinize the resulting competition effects.

How the Switching Process Works

When a customer decides they would like to shop around for a new electricity retailer, the first step is to complete some research. Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site, provides helpful information and assistance with all aspects of the switching process, and comparing the power providers.

Once a customer has switched to a new retailer, the switch is recorded in a registry. This ensures the customer receives a smooth, uninterrupted power supply and pays the correct amount to both the old and the new retailer.

The Effect on the Non-Switching Customers

Concern has been raised that loyal customers are not being offered anything for their loyalty. In fact, while on the companies default rates, they may be spending extra, which the retailer uses to offset the cost of winning back customers, or acquiring new ones. New offers with lower rates may only be available to new customers to the retailer, while existing customer are not eligable.

In many cases, customers who switch only enjoy the new, lower rates for a short period of time, too.

The Bottom Line

With its main focus on fairness, the forthcoming power review will determine if we are being well-served by the current market practice.

If it determines we’re not, the review will uncover the changes that need to be implemented.

Government’s Review of Electricity Prices


The Importance of the Government’s Review of Electricity Prices

Prior to last year’s election, Labour, the Greens and NZ First government parties all promised thorough reviews of the country’s energy sector.

And now’s the time that we see those promises come to fruition.

The New Zealand government announced that it will be conducting an energy sector review. This review will examine the price of electricity and determine what (if any) changes need to be made to keep the market fair for customers.

The Importance of a Review

Have you been noticing your power prices steadily increasing over the last several years?

If so, you’re not alone.

Over the last few years, New Zealand’s power prices have increased faster than inflation – a cause for concern to our country’s leaders.

The problem has been recognized for some time and certain solutions have been implemented already. For example, the “winter energy payment” option that the government implemented has helped lower-income New Zealanders heat their homes during the winter.

However, the reason why power prices continue to increase has never really been thoroughly examined, which is what this review intends to do.

What's Involved in the Review?

Even though you pay only one price on your energy bill, the cost of getting that power to you is much more complicated!

Power costs arise from various stages: generation (hydropower, geothermal or wind), transmission, distribution, retail and consumption. The review’s main purpose – to investigate the causes of the rising electricity costs – will examine all five of these stages.

At the same time, the review will determine if changes need to be made to the rules and regulations surrounding the energy industry.

The review will also look at how new technologies such as electric vehicles and solar panels can be better managed by the sector.

The Implications of the Review

With the increasing use of these new technologies, the government needs to ensure that our energy sector will be able to successfully handle the influx.

Plus, the review aims to ensure there is greater transparency surrounding energy bills and fair pricing for customers.

More competition and consumer benefits will also likely be a result of the review.

Getting Ready for the Future

The last decade alone has seen New Zealand make huge advances in the energy sector. Having a review completed at this stage will help ensure we are prepared for the future!

To see if you’re currently getting the best price for your household’s power consumption, check out Switchme and complete a comparison today.

5 Ways to Survive a Power Outage


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5 Ways to Survive a Power Outage

Whether it’s the result of stormy weather, an accident or maintenance work, a power outage is always an inconvenience.

Other than sitting patiently in the dark waiting for it your power to come back on, do you know what to do in a power outage? If not, here are five ways to survive the next time you have no power!

  • Stay Calm

Rest assured knowing that most power outages are shortlived. In fact, they’re normally over before you even have time to find your flashlights and candles!

Do a quick investigation to see what may have caused the black-out. If you notice that your neighbours are also out of power, then check with your power company for an update.

Once you find out how long the power may be out for, ensure you have enough supplies on hand to get you through.

  • Stay Warm

Power outages are a nuisance all year round – but even more so in the winter when you have to keep warm.

Cover your windows with blankets to block any drafts, wear extra layers of clothing and if you’ve got a fireplace, make yourself a fire. When using candles, ensure you use proper candle holders and remain in the same room as the lit candles.

Plus, in very cold areas when the outage will be for a while, turn your faucets on to a drip to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Stay Fed and Hydrated

Prior to a storm hitting, make sure you’re well stocked on food and water.

Keep cans of soup (and a non-electric can opener!) handy. If you don’t have a gas stove, try to purchase foods that can be consumed without any cooking needed. Since most food remains frozen for up to 36 hours, don’t open your fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary.

Depending on how long your power will be out for, you will need enough water for drinking, washing dishes, bathing and toilets. Use your bathtub as a holding tank and fill it up with water before the storm hits!

  • Stay Busy

Try not to watch the clock while you simply wait for the power to come back on!

Instead, have some old-fashioned fun playing board games and cards, reading, listening to music or simply conversing with family and friends.

  • Stay Prepared

Like most things in life, proper preparation is key to surviving a power outage.

Keep your wood burning fireplace and chimney properly maintained, install a non-electric stove or heater and consider purchasing an emergency generator. Protect electronics with a power bar and install carbon monoxide detectors that have a battery-powered back-up.

At the very least, stock up on blankets, flashlights and candles!

Hopefully in no time at all, your power will be back on!

Lowest Residential Pricing Area


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Network Tasman Residential Pricing:
Currently the Lowest in NZ Despite Recent Price Increase

Here in New Zealand, the local distribution networks is split into 29 major areas.

While you are free to shop around and compare pricing, contracts and incentives when choosing a retailer, the network company in your area will remain the same.

Network Tasman: Currently the Cheapest Energy Provider

Leading the pack of cheapest networks (currently, anyways!) is Network Tasman.

Even after increasing their electricity prices by 1.3 percent at the beginning of April, Network Tasman still provides the cheapest electricity rates in New Zealand. The recent increase adds a mere 68 cents per month (excluding GST) for the average residential connection.

Remain the Cheapest Electricity Distribution Company in NZ

Out of the 29 major electricity distribution companies found throughout New Zealand, Network Tasman is the cheapest. That’s before any discounts are even taken into account!

The company’s main focus on providing good value for money is accomplished by keeping price increases to a minimum while remaining committed to maintaining their core electricity networks. The safety, reliability and capacity of their networks always remain a priority.

Currently Almost 40,000 Consumer Connections in South Island

As the owner and operator of the electricity distribution network in the greater Nelson and Tasman areas (minus Nelson City), Network Tasman distributes power to almost 40,000 consumer connections.

Wholly owned by the Network Tasman Trust, a consumer trust, Network Tasman provides power to the north-western corner of the South Island.

Regulated by the Commerce Commission

Network Tasman’s “commitment to good value for money” is not just for marketing purposes! Their line charges over the last two years have averaged $2 million annually below what the Commerce Commission permits to charge as a regulated electricity lines company.

Plus, Network Tasman’s prices charged to retailers for using both the electricity distribution network and the national gride amount to approximately one-third of retail electricity paid by consumers.

Switchme can help make sure you are on the best rates available!

While you can not change the network company supplying your property, Switchme can help you compare pricing for your area. For almost a decade, Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-governmental funded energy switching site, has been helping Kiwis save on their energy bill. By offering an online, easy-to-use calculator, Kiwis are easily able to compare energy prices.

The online switch application only has three steps, which means you can start saving energy costs quickly!

For your business, Contact Switchme today to learn more about how we can help you identify and switch to the best energy providers in your network region. Start enjoying the cheapest pricing rates in as little as five days!

3 Reasons to Reduce Peak Energy


3 Reasons To Reduce Peak Energy Use Now

You probably already know that it’s cheaper to use energy on off-peak times. But besides cost savings, did you know that there other benefits to off-peak energy use, too?

A recent report from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) outlines the many advantages associated with reducing peak energy use. Here are three of them.

The Environment Would Benefit

One of the main reasons why power companies still rely on their coal plants is to keep up with peak energy usage.

Coal plants create numerous environmental damages, including greenhouse gas emissions, mining destruction and waste generation.

Reducing peak energy use could decrease (and possibly eliminate) the need for coal plants, thus creating a much healthier environment for Kiwis to live in.

Fewer Infrastructure Upgrades Would be Needed

If peak demand was decreased, millions of dollars could be saved in the cost of electricity infrastructure.

Less strain being put on the electricity networks’ infrastructure (and thus eliminating “peak energy times”) would bring a reduction in infrastructure upgrades.

And since the majority of customised price path (CPP) applications to the Commerce Commission are to fund network upgrades, there should be fewer price increases, too.

Cheaper Electricity Could be Produced

Approximately half of New Zealand’s power companies’ costs are for maintaining their network’s capacity to deliver energy at peak times.

The report found that if more Kiwis made an effort to reduce their energy needs during peak times, the overall cost of supplying electricity to New Zealand households could be reduced by $30 million annually.

Achieving Better Energy Efficiency Starts with YOU!

There are several ways you can help the New Zealand government achieve its goal of having 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050. Here are some of them:

  • Program your appliances to run overnight, rather than in the evening
  • Switch your incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs to LED
  • Install a heat pump for more efficient space heating
  • Charge your electric vehicle at off-peak times
  • Use energy-efficient products and appliances

Simply being more aware of your household’s energy usage is a great place to start when trying to become more energy efficient. And when it comes time to replacing bulbs or other household products, consider the long-term running costs rather than just the initial expense.

Save on Energy with Switchme

While becoming more energy efficient and reducing peak energy use, why not shop around for a better energy provider?

Switchme, New Zealand’s largest, non-government funded switching site helps you save on your monthly energy costs! Using our free, online switching program, enjoy cost-savings benefits from a new energy provider in only five minutes. Contact us today for more details!

The Truth About Owning an Electric Car


Image result for electric car new zealandThe Truth About Owning an Electric Car

Sure, you may know how environmentally friendly and efficient electric vehicles (EVs) are to run. But do you ever wonder what the disadvantages may be to owning your own EV? Here are the top two to consider before making that purchase.

They Can Cause Range Anxiety

EVs can only go so far without needing to be plugged in again. This isn’t a problem if you’re just driving around town and can easily find a charge station if needed. However, this can be an entirely different problem if you’re planning on driving a long distance and haven’t accounted for weather, hills and road gradients.

The good news: Not knowing if you have enough energy in your vehicle to get you where you need to go can create anxiety on the drive there. But, this issue may soon be a thing of the past with the new EV models being produced, with certain models having a range of up to 500 kilometres!

Plus, charging stations will soon be located every 75 kilometres along our country’s highways, with most of them already installed.

Remember, charging takes time, though – so extra time would need to be accounted for if the charging station is needed during your travels!

They Are Expensive to Purchase

There’s no arguing the fact that EVs are definitely less expensive to run compared to a petrol car. In fact, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) have said that driving an EV is 15 percent of the cost of running a similar sized petrol car.

Besides the running cost, EVs are also less expensive to maintain – since they don’t have as many moving parts as a petrol or diesel vehicle.

Although they are cheaper to run, the fact remains that EVs are less affordable to purchase in the beginning. Plus, the high upfront cost can take years to recoup, depending on your driving habits.

Car batteries can lose range over time and will eventually need to be replaced. Resale value can be affected because of this.

The good news: Prices for EVs is already substantially cheaper than they were years ago. For example, a brand new Nissan Leaf (which originally cost $69,000) now sells for $39,000, with second-hand models being a much more affordable option.

Car batteries currently last about 8-10 years (and are normally covered by manufacturers for a similar warranty period). Technology is improving and making battery replacement cheaper with time.

Save More on Your Energy Bill with Switchme

If you own an EV or not, Switchme can help you easily compare power companies to find the most affordable supplier to charge your EV or run the rest of your home. This will help save you money and reduce your energy cost.

Recent Price Increases


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Recent Price Increases in the Energy Industry

Change continuously happens in life and New Zealand’s electricity distribution industry is no exception! Here are some of the latest changes regarding our power suppliers.

Powerco’s Price Increase Will Help Upgrade Network

In order to fund a $1.27 billion upgrade to its network, the Commerce Commission recently approved Powerco’s price increase application.

Deeming the upgrade necessary to maintain a safe, secure and reliable network for customers, the Commerce Commission approved the price increase as of April 1.

As part of the application approval, Powerco is required to report on its investment to both the commission and its consumers on a yearly basis.

Wellington Electricity’s Rate Increase to Help with Earthquake Preparedness

An additional $31 million was approved by the Commerce Commission to help improve the network’s resilience to major earthquakes.

Last December, Wellington Electricity had submitted their urgent application which documented the need to strengthen its substations and purchase emergency equipment and critical spares.

The investment is expected to cost the average Wellington Electricity consumer an addition $1.70 each month.

Potential Rate Increases in the Future for Aurora

In early March, electricity provider Aurora (which serves Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown) started an independent review of its electricity network to pursue a price increase. The electricity provider’s older network is in need of repairs, which the price increase (if approved) will help cover.

The company has already notified the Commerce Commission of its desire to launch a customized price path (CPP) beginning in mid-2020. If approved, the distribution line charge on customers’ bills will be increased to fund future network investment. The actual price increase has yet to be decided.

This past December, the company finished a $30 million fast-track pole programme, which saw 2800 of the network’s worst poles replaced.

Over the upcoming decade, an investment of more than $700 million is planned by the company to improve its ageing network.

Commerce Commission Plays a Part in Price Increases

Although any lines company can apply for a CPP (with most applications seeking line charges to fund network upgrades), the Commerce Commission closely analyzes applications.

The end goal is that a balanced price-quality path for both companies and consumers can be achieved.

Switchme Helps You Get the Best Rate!

With the constant changes in New Zealand’s electricity industry, you need a trusted ally to help you get the best rate! That’s where a Switchme comparison comes in.

As the country’s largest, non-government funded energy switching site, Switchme aims to simplify the energy switching process. By providing free, independent advice to New Zealand business and residential energy customers, Switchme gets customers the energy rates they deserve.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get the best energy rate currently available!

Save with LED Lightbulbs


Image result for led bulbSave Big with LED Lightbulbs

Looking to save money could be accomplished as easily as switching on your lights…But only if those lights use LED lightbulbs!

Simply switching to LED light bulbs in your household could save an average of $100 and $150 annually on your power bill. Not only do LED bulbs use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they also last approximately 15 times longer.

How Much Less Energy do LED Bulbs Use?

While still providing the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb, an LED bulb uses 85 percent less power. Plus, each LED bulb is meant to last 15,000 hours – compared to an incandescent bulb’s lifespan of only 1000 hours and a compact fluorescent lightbulb’s (CFL) lifespan of 10,000 hours!

How Do LED Bulbs Work?

The light-emitting diodes produced in an LED bulb are semiconductors. When electrons move through this type of semiconductor, light is produced. Compared to their counterparts (incandescent and CFL bulbs), LED lights are more efficient at producing light from energy. As a result, less energy is wasted from the bulb and turned into heat.

Even with the benefits afforded by switching to LED, only half of New Zealand households have made the switch so far.

Slowly, More People are Making the Switch to LED Bulbs

Although only half of New Zealand’s households have made the switch to LED, that’s still better than three years ago when only 18 percent had made the switch.

New Zealanders remain fans of old-fashioned incandescent bulbs; an average of 13 of this type of bulb is still found in each household. Concerns about reliability and energy-saving claims tend to be preventing more New Zealand households from making the switch.

However, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) tries to counter those arguments by encouraging consumers to buy from brands they know and keep receipts in-case the bulbs don’t last as long as promised.

Choosing the Best LED Bulb for Your Household’s Needs

When selecting LED bulbs for your home, review the packaging to compare the wattage of the old incandescent you were using. This would help create a similar brightness. Also, choose whether you want a warm or cool light.

If you would rather not replace all the bulbs at once in your home, replace them in areas most frequently used (like the kitchen) first. This would provide the best return on investment.

Renting? Consider the LED bulbs a fixture and take them with you when you move! Replace them with incandescent bulbs on your way out.

Save Even More by Switching More than Just Your Bulbs!

Although the cost for an LED bulb is higher than other types of bulbs, keep in mind that they usually pay themselves off within the first year – and last for at least nine more.

Other than switching your lightbulbs for cost-savings measures, why not consider switching your energy provider? Let Switchme show you how easy it can be to start saving even more money!

Electric Vehicles (EVs) slow uptake


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Where are the Vehicles to Use New Zealand’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure?

Although New Zealand’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure is almost ready, it seems that Kiwis are not adopting EVs as fast.

Soon, charging stations will be available every 75 kilometres along our country’s highways. Currently, there are 97 rapid-charging stations available nationwide, with an additional 30 being constructed.

Yet the electric vehicle uptake by Kiwis has been slow. Regardless of New Zealand government’s goal of having 64,000 on the road by 2021, there are currently only almost 7,000 according to Drive Electric.

Government Leads the Way

Having government agencies lead the way can make undecided businesses more inclined to adopt EVs for their fleet, too.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is one such example of a government agency leading the way. Recently, the NZTA committed to purchasing 48 EVs to join the agency’s fleet this year.

Eventually, the fleet cars used by both government agencies and private companies would make their way into the second-hand market. This would help increase the nation’s pool of EVs.

Benefits of Electric Vehicles

Around the globe, countries are seeing the benefits of encouraging more EVs on their roads. Benefits include:

Environmentally-Friendly: Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of electric vehicles is their lack of environmental impact. Their zero exhaust emissions help reduce harmful air pollution. When recharged with renewable energy rather than the grid, greenhouse gas emissions are further reduced. Plus, many EVs are produced from recycled materials, using a more eco-friendly production process.

Cost-Savings: Although the initial cost of purchasing an EV can be costly, they offer future cost savings. Not only are they cheaper to run than a petrol vehicle, but they also require less maintenance.

Health Benefits: Less noise pollution is produced since they’re quieter to run than gas-powered vehicles. Due to the lack of exhaust emissions, less harmful air pollution’s also produced.

Why Aren’t More Kiwis Converting from Gas-Powered?

With the many benefits widely known regarding EVs, the question remains as to why more Kiwis aren’t converting from petrol vehicles. Below are some possible reasons:

  • Unknown Depreciation: Being a relatively new concept, the depreciation surrounding EVs is unknown.
  • Range anxiety: Concern about whether the EV will have enough battery power to reach the destination (or a suitable charging station).
  • Visual Design: To some people, EVs lack a certain visual dignity that’s offered by non-electric type vehicles.

Save on Your Energy Costs with Switchme!

Want to know how to save on your energy costs now – without purchasing an EV? Switchme offers a free, easy and convenient way to see if you’re overpaying on your energy costs. Contact us today to learn more about our power company comparison services!