When you compare power companies, it’s important to consider more than just price. Instead, it’s best 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 power company 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 think about when you compare power companies.
When we compare power companies, price is the thing that comes to mind first. And it’s understandable. No one wants to overpay. But, unless there’s a drastic difference in price, then you may be better off comparing power companies 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.
It’s also worth looking at the full suite of off-peak and peak rates offered by power providers. Some electricity retailers charge slightly higher prices for their peak power, but give considerable discounts on their off-peak night, daytime and weekend rates.
So when choosing a power company, make sure you know the times when your household consumes the most power. This will help you make a more informed comparison of per kWh prices.
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.
^ By clicking on a brand or 'details' button, you will leave Canstar Blue and be taken to either a product provider website or a Canstar Blue NZ brand page. You agree that Canstar Blue NZ’s terms and conditions apply (without limitation) to your use of this service,to any referral to a product provider from our website, and any transaction that follows. Canstar Blue may earn a fee for referrals from its website tables, and from sponsorship (advertising) of certain products. Payment of sponsorship fees does not influence the star rating that Canstar Blue awards to a sponsored product. Fees payable by product providers for referrals and sponsorship may vary between providers, website position, and revenue model. Sponsorship fees may be higher than referral fees. Sponsored products are clearly disclosed as such on website pages. They may appear in a number of areas of the website such as in comparison tables, on hub pages and in articles. Sponsored products may be displayed in a fixed position in a table, regardless of the product’s rating, price or other attributes. The table position of a sponsored product does not indicate any ranking, rating or endorsement by Canstar Blue. See How we are funded for further details.
Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in April 2022, published in June 2022.
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
2. Customer Service
Most power companies try to position themselves as champions of great customer service. And some rightly so.
But while you might think customer service is less important than price, 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 half an hour. 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?
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 see how your power company compares on customer service, check out our Star Ratings. Every year we canvass hundreds of Kiwi electricity consumers and ask them to rate their power companies for customer service, value for money and overall satisfaction. You can see the results of our latest survey and awards by hitting this button:
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 the running costs of appliances, and even platforms that give customers the chance to compare 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.
The best deal isn’t simply the one that’s best on paper. It’s the one that best suits you and your power needs.
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: Peak and Off-Peak Electricity Prices Explained
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. It accounts 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 100% renewable or not.
New Zealand has five electricity gentailers (companies that both generate and sell electricity):
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 that company generates its electricity, even if the power you’re using is a blend coming from all five.
Currently, Meridian and Mercury are the only two companies 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:
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.