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Compare Power Companies: 3-Step Guide

Being charged too much for your power? It’s easy to compare power companies and to find a better deal with Canstar Blue’s step-by-step guide to comparing power company deals.

To compare power companies to find the best deal for your home can seem a daunting task. To start with there are so many different power companies: 14 in Canstar Blue’s most recent Customer Satisfaction ratings. And they each offer different deals!

Then there are the different rates and charges listed on your power bill:

  • Variable charges: off-peak, peak, night
  • Fixed charges: low user/high user
  • Electricity Authority levy

But switching power companies doesn’t have to be difficult. As we reveal in our easy 3-step guide

Compare Power Companies: Step 1

Find a copy of a recent power bill. If you don’t have a hard copy, you should be able to download recent bills online from your provider.

It’s best to use one from a month when you regularly use the most power. For example, a winter month, such as July or August, when heaters and washing machines/dryers get maximum usage.

The three things to concentrate on are:

  1. Fixed charges – displayed as cents or dollars per day. You are charged this fixed rate daily, regardless of how much power you use. Rates vary between power companies and whether you are a standard- or low-power user (for more on this see below)
  2. Variable charges – the cost of the power you’ve used, based on consumption in kilowatts per hour (kWh)
  3. The times of day you use the most power, either peak or off-peak. Generally speaking, peak times are Monday to Friday, 7am-11am & 5pm-9pm.

Just ignore the Electricity Authority levy, which goes towards funding the government agency’s work regulating the electricity industry, as you’ll be charged the same levy whichever power provider you use.

Compare Power Companies: Step 2

Once you work out how much power you use, and at which times of the day, it’s time to jump online to start comparing power prices. Most retailers have websites that allow you to compare their plans according to your address.

All you need to do is some simple arithmetic, to compare the total cost of your variable and fixed-rate charges on your bill with your current provider against what’s on offer from a competitor. For example:

Current power deal (standard user)


452kWh x 19.27c



30 Days x 235.05c


+GST 15%


-12% Prompt payment
+ direct debit discount


Total = $159.51

Competitor’s power deal (standard user)


452kWh x 18.53c



30 Days x 200c


+GST 15%


No additional


Total = $165.32

The above figures are an example of why it’s worth looking past just daily fixed prices and charges per kWh. At first glance the competitor’s pricing looks favourable:

  • 18.53c per kWh vs. 19.27c per kWh
  • 200c per day vs. 235.05c per day

But after you factor in the discounts on offer from the current provider (12%), that electricity company comes out ahead.

Compare Power Companies: Other things to consider

Standard-user tariff vs Low-user tariff

The low-user tariff is being phased out. This means if you’re one of the 68% of Kiwi households on the low-user tariff, you’re going to see your daily charges increase.

Over the next five years, the daily charge will increase by 30c each year. From 30c, the daily low-tariff charge has already been raised to a max standard charge of 60c. And by 2027, it will rise to 180c, in line with the standard-user tariff.

To offset this increase, the cost per kWh should come down for low-tariff users. But how this discount is passed on to consumers is up to individual power companies. This means over the coming years, it will pay to be extra vigilant about the price you’re paying for your electricity.

Related article: End of the Low-User Electricity Tariff

Off-peak usage

Cheaper off-peak electricity isn’t available everywhere, or from all retailers. Typically offered overnight and at weekends, it can save you money if you can adapt your home’s energy usage to fit in around the off-peak times.

Free power period

Some retailers offer free power periods, usually off-peak. If you can coordinate your high-power usage around such a deal, you can make considerable savings. Think: running washing machines, dishwashers and heat pumps, or taking baths and showers.

Fixed contracts

By signing up to 12- or 24-month contracts you can usually secure a cheaper price. Although be aware that break fees will apply if you need to end your power contract early.

Bundle deals

You can often save heaps on your power if you bundle it with either gas or broadband.

Special offers

If you’re switching power companies, it always pays to factor in any special offers attached to the deal you’re being offered. While whiteware, electrical goods, reward points or offers of cash might seem appealing, there can often be a catch. As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So check the cash value of any reward against the long-term cost of the power plan it’s tied to.

Online comparison site

It’s best to do the cost comparisons yourself, as online electricity price comparison sites might not feature all the possible deals in the market. For example, Electric Kiwi doesn’t feature on Consumer’s Powerswitch website, as it refuses to pay the fees involved.

Compare Power Companies

If you’ve reached the end of this story, it’s clear that you’re interested in finding a better power deal. And a great way to start is by checking out Canstar’s latest Star Ratings awards. Based on the satisfaction ratings of real-life Kiwi electricity consumers, they rate NZ power companies for customer satisfaction and value for money. See the table below for some of the results, or click on the button below for the full results of our survey.

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

See Our Ratings Methodology

Compare Power Companies

About the author of this page

Bruce PitchersThis report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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