5 Things to Consider When Switching Electricity Providers

To get the best power deals, you need to shop around. And while price is our go-to measure of value, it’s not all there is to consider. Canstar runs through the five main things you should think about when switching electricity providers.

When it comes to choosing or switching electricity providers, it’s worth thinking about more than just price and to consider the whole package offered by a provider.

For while cost is hugely important, you also need great customer service and support when needed. You might also prefer a provider that focuses on renewable energy, or one that provides additional benefits, such as rewards points.

To help you make the right choice for your personal needs and preferences, Canstar Blue offers the following guide on what to consider when switching electricity providers. Then, the choice is yours!

Electricity Perks

1. Price

When choosing a provider, price will obviously be a huge part of your decision. It’s one of the main reasons people consider switching electricity providers in the first place. No one wants to be overpaying.

But, unless there’s a drastic difference in price, then you may be better off comparing electricity providers on what other benefits they offer.

Sometimes paying a bit more is worth it if you know you’ll receive great customer service. Also, consider what else you get for your money. Maybe one retailer is offering extra incentives, such as signing on gifts, cash credits, or a daily free hour of power.

Picking the cheapest deal can be tempting, but your choice should be more about overall value for money than simply the cost of your monthly bill.

Compare electricity providers with Canstar Blue

Finding affordable power involves shopping around. And to help you find the best value electricity retailer, Canstar Blue rates NZ power companies for customer satisfaction and value for money, see the table below for some of the results, or you can click on the buttons below for the full results of our survey, and to compare bundled utility providers.

Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction. The table above is an abridged version of our full results, available here.

See Our Ratings Methodology

Compare electricity providers

2. Customer Service

Most energy retailers try to position themselves as champions of great customer service. Some rightly so, but some others are clutching at straws.

While you might think customer service is less important than price – understandably – think about the last time you had to call your provider and how that call went. If a company offers no-frills prices, this could be reflected in its level of customer service.

And, nowadays, customer service is about more than not being left on hold on the telephone. For example, does your energy provider have a social media page where it can be reached? Does it respond to emails? And how easy is it to contact the company through its website or app?

electricity providers customer service man yelling into phone

Furthermore, is your power company proactive? Do they let you know about upcoming deals, new plans, or if you’re on the right plan for your power usage?

To check how your power company compares on customer service, you can check out our Star Ratings. Every year we compare power companies across multiple drivers of satisfaction, including customer service. You can see how Kiwi power companies stack up by hitting this button:

Compare Electricity Providers

3. Helpful tools

As the energy industry becomes more innovative, some retailers are focusing their efforts on tools to help people make better decisions about their energy usage. These tools include apps that report energy usage in close to real-time, guides on appliance running costs, and even platforms that give customers the chance to compare their providers’ prices.

Being able to pay bills, check past usage or project future usage, update your details, and more, all from your phone is a huge benefit.

Compare Electricity Providers

4. Suitability

The best deal isn’t simply the one that’s best on paper. It’s the one that best suits you.

For example, if you’re price conscious or on a budget, a simple, no-nonsense plan may be best. One that cuts the extras and just gives you fixed low rates that provide bill certainty.

Or, if you’re a night owl or charge an electric car overnight, perhaps you’d be better off with a plan with discounted late-night rates, even if that means higher rates during the day.

→Related article: Electric Kiwi’s New MoveMaster Plan: Is It Right for You?

switching electricity providers: fossil fuels and pollution

5. Renewable Energy

We’ve left this one until last because, although important, it’s a little complex.

The largest share of New Zealand’s energy comes from clean, green, hydropower. Accounting for well over half of all the electricity produced in the country.

Throw geothermal, wind and even a little solar into the mix and around 85% of all power generated in New Zealand comes from renewable sources. So you can be pretty confident that most of the time you’re keeping the lights on and your new EV charged with clean energy.

→Related article: EV Power Plans: The Best Power Plans for Electric Vehicles

But while NZ has a good renewable energy profile, around 15% of power still comes from fossil fuels. And, unfortunately, you don’t get much say in whether the power you use is renewable or not.

New Zealand has five electricity gentailers (companies that both generate and sell electricity):

  • Meridian
  • Genesis
  • Mercury
  • Contact
  • Trustpower

The electricity generated by these companies is distributed collectively on the national grid. This means all power generated is mixed together, regardless of whether it came from hydro or coal. Energy is then bought from the national grid (by a power company) and sold to you. So, simply signing up for a power company that only uses renewable energy isn’t really an option. Even the five companies listed above must sell their power to the national grid before then buying it back off the grid.

However, if your power provider is one of the five listed above, you can factor in how those companies are generating electricity. Even if the power you’re actually using is a mixture of all five.

Currently, Meridian and Mercury are the only two generating 100% renewable energy. As for the rest, there are varying degrees of fossil fuels in the mix. Looking at each company’s sustainability practices and commitments could be a good idea.

If your power provider isn’t one of the five listed above, then it doesn’t generate any electricity. It simply buys it from the national grid and sells it to you. So while you can’t judge them on how they generate electricity, you could always look at how the company operates and its sustainability practices as a whole.

Compare electricity providers

If you’re in the process of choosing or switching electricity providers then it’s important you shop around. At Canstar we make that easy. By comparing electricity providers for you. So you can see how they compare on things like price, customer service, bill clarity, and more. You can also read our helpful guides and articles, to find the latest deals, or learn more about the electricity sector.

To learn more, or to start comparing, simply click the button below:

Compare Electricity Providers

author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an
experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth
working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism
and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more
recently, finance for Canstar.

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