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!

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.

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.

New Programme Provides Help to Vulnerable Households

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New Programme Provides Help to Vulnerable Households

A free in-home energy coaching service was launched in June to help struggling Kiwi families at highest risk of energy hardship. The government, electricity retailers, lines companies and community organisations will work together to provide the service aimed at reducing at-risk families’ energy costs and increasing warmth.

Electricity Management Tips for Vulnerable Kiwi Families

New Zealand’s electricity costs are relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world. Even so, poor housing and a lack of insulation create expensive bills for some families each winter.

This collaborative, multi-agency effort provides basic energy literacy and support to help Kiwi families better manage their electricity use. Vulnerable families will be assisted with obtaining the best electricity plan and educated on tips to increase their home’s energy efficiency. An electricity plan change can amount to hundreds of dollars of savings each year for some New Zealand families.

Families’ heating options will also be reviewed to see if a more affordable heating source is available. Families will also be introduced to other available community resources that can assist with further energy cost-savings measures.

In-Home Visits Provide Personalised Financial Support

Community-based trained financial mentors through Porirua Whanau Centre, Manukau Urban Maori Authority, and Family Focus Rotorua will provide in-home support to participating families.

These “EnergyMate Coaches” will help connect the family with their energy retailer and ensure they’re on the best plan for their household’s usage. Energy literacy support will be provided and payment and debt issues will be resolved with the energy retailer.

An easy to follow, practical action plan will be delivered to help families improve their energy efficiency and improve their comfort levels – without paying more on energy costs.

Other services including insulation and budgeting support will be reviewed with each family.

To begin, community-based financial mentors will pilot the program in 150 households in Rotorua, Porirua and South Auckland.

How to Obtain an EnergyMate Coach

To become a part of the EnergyMate pilot program, whanau can be referred to the programme via the Ministry of Healthy Homes Initiative, their electricity provider or the local budgeting provider (the EnergyMate delivery partner).

Energy Cost Savings Education

The innovative EnergyMate programme aims to create warm, dry homes with affordable energy costs for all Kiwis. Switchme, an energy switching company, has a similar goal!

Use our free, online comparison calculator to see if you’re currently getting the best rate on your energy costs. Contact us today for more details!

Extreme Weather and Your Electricity

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Extreme Weather and Your Electricity

After taking a moment to consider our weather over the last few years, it’s difficult to deny the fact that New Zealand has been experiencing extreme weather.

The severe heatwave last season. The Edgecumbe floods in 2017. Last April’s extreme winds.

And what’s even scarier? The fact that experts predict that there is no end in sight to extreme weather.

Climate change is predicted to continue damaging livelihoods and creating financial and human loss. Here’s how Auckland based electric utility company Vector is preparing Auckland’s power network for the future.

Severe Wind

With wind predicted to be Auckland’s biggest climate change related weather risk to impact Auckland’s power network, Vector is investing in bundled aerial conductors.

By bundling several powerlines into one and fully insulating them, the powerlines become stronger and safer.

However, this only helps with severe winds if exceptional tree management systems are in place first. That’s why it’s important to plant native species in areas that aren’t right underneath power lines.

Heatwaves and Dry Spells

When an extreme heatwave hits, power cables and lines have a more difficult time meeting households’ energy needs.

This risk is mitigated by setting different capacity ratings on Vector’s critical assets to ensure they can cope with the heat. If a problem is detected, more capacity can be added to certain areas when required.

Making the Network More Resilient

When extreme weather patterns hit, you can help manage your own energy resources.

It’s always a good idea to keep clean distributed energy resources on hand in the event of a power outage. Consider purchasing batteries and investing in solar power and/or an electric vehicle with a reverse charge system.

Applying Innovative Thinking to Our Extreme Weather Problem

Vector recognizes that the energy sector must be ready to deal with ongoing environmental changes. To do so, innovating thinking is necessary.

Vector has set its own target of net zero emissions by 2030 and has also helped found New Zealand’s Climate Leaders Coalition. The company is committed to reducing emissions in New Zealand, supporting the Paris Climate Agreement and creating a positive future for everyone.

The Bottom Line

Although we may not know what can be expected when it comes to our future weather patterns, we do know how you can save on your energy bill now!

As one of New Zealand’s most trusted electricity comparison sites, Switchme can easily facilitate a switch to a more affordable energy provider. Check out our website for more details!

Consider These Before Installing Solar Power

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4 Things to Consider Before Installing Solar Power

Are you thinking about installing solar panels at your home?

The energy savings and ability to help the environment may be tempting reasons enough to install some panels on your roof.

But before you make the installation appointment, here’s how to ensure solar panels are suitable for your household.

2016 Solar Trial Provided Insight into NZ’s Electricity Needs

Eastland Network’s 2016 solar trial gathered data to prepare for the future electricity needs of the Gisborne, East Coast and Wairoa regions.

During the trial, nine residential properties received solar systems ranging in size from 2.5kWh to 4.16kWh to validate the economics of residential solar. Properties were chosen depending on the number of occupants, roof pitch, system size and building age.

Although full trial results are still being assessed, some feedback has already been garnered to help people make an informed decision around solar installation.

Is Your Roof Going to Last?

Homeowners considering installing solar panels should ensure their roof is going to last the next 25 years.

When roofs require repairs or a full replacement, solar panels will need to be removed – which could potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Is Your Roof Easily Accessible?

Yes, the majority of work will be completed at the beginning when the solar panels are installed on your home.

However, regular maintenance will be needed on an ongoing basis. In order to do so successfully, your roof needs to have easy access.

Your solar panels will need to be cleaned off regularly. If the pitch is too dangerous or other barriers prevent you from climbing onto your roof safely, then solar panels may not be a great idea.

Are You Located where there’s Optimal Sunlight?

Your solar panels will only generate a successful amount of sunlight if your home faces the proper direction. Optimal roofs are north-facing and not shaded by trees.

An online tool such as Google Maps can identify the direction your roof faces to see if a suitable amount of sunlight would be available.

Can Your Household Maximize Electricity during Peak Sunshine Hours?

Without battery installations (which are an expensive addition to a solar installation), unused electricity is exported back to the grid immediately. So for solar power to be most effective, a household must use as much electricity as possible during daylight hours.

The trial showed that the minimal amount of power that homes should use is 5,000kWh for solar panels to be a great investment.

Other than installing solar panels, looking for ways to save on your energy costs? Switchme offers a free, online platform that enables Kiwis to easily switch to a more affordable energy supplier. Check it out today!

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.


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!

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.

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.

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Strain of Electric Vehicles (EVs) to New Zealand’s Electricity Network could affect pricing.

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Electric Vehicles (EVs) add Strain to New Zealand’s Electricity Network

With the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) in New Zealand, a potential new strain has been added to the country’s electricity network.

One in 15 Auckland households is predicted to have an electric vehicle within three years, which worries network companies and could affect pricing.

Vector’s Newly Released “Green Paper”

Lines company Vector’s recently released green paper suggests that New Zealand needs to create a solid strategy to deal with the country’s uptake of EVs.

The company is especially concerned that suburban homes requiring EV charging would add an additional strain to the electricity network. When electricity networks were originally created, they were based on the number of homes on the street. Since a big-battery EV adds the equivalent of one to 20 houses’ power needs, there could be electricity network problems if the use of EVs continues to grow.

Even if EVs do not continue to increase in popularity, Vector states that there could still be problems. If current EV owners charge during peak time or use faster-charging options, extra strain could be put on the network. Since many owners decide to charge their cars after getting home after work (at the same time that households use appliances to cook), the supply of electricity could become compromised.

Suggestions to Help with the Strain

Concept Consulting, which has previously argued that EVs are better for the New Zealand environment than solar power, suggests a potential solution.

If electricity networks offered a more cost-effective time-of-use pricing model, less strain could be put on the network. For example, EV owners could be motivated to charge their cars after 9 pm if a better pricing model was offered.

Some electricity companies have already been offering cheaper pricing for EV owners that charge their vehicles overnight – but more are needed to make a difference.

Benefits of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

It’s worthwhile to solve the issue regarding the strain on the electricity network, as EVs offer Kiwis numerous benefits!

Not only are EVs cheaper to run and maintain, but they offer numerous environmental and health benefits. EVs have zero exhaust emissions, can be created using eco-friendly materials and offer the option for charging with renewable energy.

The better air quality created means fewer health problems and costs associated with air pollution.

In addition, less noise pollution is produced by EVs as compared to petrol/diesel vehicles.

Contact Switchme Today to Save on Your Energy Costs

Besides purchasing an EV, are you interested in other cost-savings measures regarding your energy usage?

If so, Switchme offers an easy, convenient way to see if a cheaper energy provider is available. Contact us today to use our online, convenient comparison calculator to start saving today!

Passive House Concept Creates Healthier Homes and Reduces Electricity Costs

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Passive House Concept Creates Healthier Homes and Reduces Electricity Costs

Growing in popularity worldwide, energy efficient “passive homes” have made it to New Zealand now, too. Matamata has the first certified “passive home” and the second in the Waikato.

A German Technique Used to Create Energy Efficiency

Made of triple-glazed windows, extra thick walls, plenty of insulation and other technologies, a PassivHaus (Passive House) is a German technique used to create an airtight, energy-efficient building.

Using climate data collected from Niwa and NASA, architects design a home that’s suitable to the exact climate and building site.

In passive homes, the heat lost and gained from sunlight and insulation is controlled to reach the optimum year-round temperature of about 20 degrees. The homes regulate their own temperature regardless of outside temperatures, with little or no active heating or cooling.

As a result, the home’s interior is consistently comfortable, healthy and dry.

Reduce Electricity Costs

In addition to creating a healthier living environment, passive houses reduce electricity costs, too.

The owner of the Passive House in Matamata has seen energy costs in his 1920s refurbished home decrease over $200 each month!

Building Industry Benefits from Passive Builds

A passive home performs three or four times better than newly built homes.

Compared to an average home build, there are many different elements involved when building a passive home.

Although more challenging than building a traditional home, the end results are more than worthwhile!

Passive Homes Provide Long-Term Value

Since building costs in New Zealand are already expensive, many people do not even consider building a passive home – which costs even more.

A homeowner considering building a passive home needs to realize that although it initially costs more to build, a healthier, more comfortable home with lower running costs will be enjoyed over the long-term.

Once homeowners realize the long-term value, the higher cost associated with designing and building a passive home becomes easier to absorb.

Switchme Can Save You on Energy Costs!

Looking for a less cost-intensive way than building a passive home to lower your home’s energy costs? If so, have you considered using Switchme’s services?

By using an online system that easily compares alternate energy suppliers, easily see what switching energy companies can do to your monthly energy bill!

Contact us today to learn more about why we’re the largest, non-government funded energy switching site!

Types of Heat Pumps

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Types of Heat Pumps

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

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

Considerations to Make Prior to Purchasing a Heat Pump

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Source Heat Pumps: Most Commonly Used Throughout New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Your Energy Costs!

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

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

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

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

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

Ensure Your Home’s Properly Insulated

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

Use Proper Shades

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

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

Large Openings Allow for Cross Ventilation

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

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

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

Install Water Features Around Your Home

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

More Trees = Cooler Temperatures

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

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

Save on Energy Costs with Switchme!

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

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Electricity or Gas Problem? Here’s What to Do

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

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What to Do in an Electrical Emergency

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

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

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

What to Do in a Gas Emergency

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

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

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Using Electric Blankets Safely

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

Safety First!

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

Checking Your Electric Blanket for Damage

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

A Proper Fit Means a Safe Fit!

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

Get a Replacement Regularly

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

Some Extra Safety Tips to Keep In Mind

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

Save on Energy Costs this Winter!

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How to Choose Energy Efficient Appliances

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

Read the Energy Rating Label

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

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

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Read Consumer Reviews from Multiple Websites

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

Decide on the Right Model for Your Household

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

Utilize the EECA’s Online Running Cost Calculator

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

Consider Energy-Saving Features

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

Use Switchme to Save You Even More in Energy Costs!

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