The chill of morning frosts and the dampness of rain tell us winter has arrived. Wherever you are in the country, it’s likely you’ve noticed your power bills start to creep up. Of course, a lot of different factors affect a household’s power bill, for example its size and the time of year. As the Electricity Authority’s Electricity in New Zealand report notes, electricity consumption is usually highest on cold winter evenings, when people are heating their households and cooking.
They breakdown a typical household’s electricity usage like this:
- Water heating: 27%
- Electronics and other electrical: 20%
- Refrigeration: 17%
- Space heating: 15%
- Lighting: 13%
The good news? You can squash your power bills right back down. You have the power to secure a better deal on your electricity bill. There are 37 different electricity providers in the market, from the big players and their own smaller brands, to independents. As part of our mission to inform consumers of the best NZ has to offer, Canstar Blue canvassed the opinions of New Zealanders who have electricity accounts across a range of categories, to measure and track their satisfaction.
To decide which electricity provider offers the best level of customer satisfaction, each was rated across the following categories:
- Overall Satisfaction
- Bill & Cost Clarity
- Customer Service
- Ease of Sign-up
- Focus on Environmental Sustainability
- Online Tools and Advice
- Value for Money
Coming out on top and winning Canstar’s Blue’s prestigious award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers is Powershop. In this year’s ratings, it’s the only power company to score 5 Stars for Overall Satisfaction. It’s a rating that’s backed with further 5- and 4-Star ratings across the board, including 5 Stars in the all-important category Value for Money.
Also deserving of a special mention are Electric Kiwi, our winner in 2020, and Flick Electric. Each power company earned a total of three top 5-Star ratings, combined with four 4-Star awards. Online Tools and Advice being a strong category for both of them.
Power costs are a concern
Unsurprisingly, 35% of those surveyed worry about how much their power bill will be each month. It’s good news for the planet though, 69% say they actively try to reduce the amount they spend on power by turning lights off and/or using energy saving light bulbs and appliances. A further 7% are considering/planning on installing solar panels in the next 12 months.
Are you on the best plan for your home?
Although fewer than half of our respondents say they are satisfied that they get a good deal on electricity, just 34% have compared electricity prices in the last 12 months. Maybe it’s because they feel it’s too overwhelming or tricky. But don’t worry, Canstar Blue to the rescue!
We compare all the big power companies, and put the results of our research in one place, in the form of easy to understand star ratings. Plenty of Kiwi households change their power provider each year, and many more are starting to keep track of prices by comparing power companies NZ-wide. Power companies are well aware of this, and are always trying to poach customers from their competitors. So check out the best power companies for customer service and price in our ratings table.
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.
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Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in April 2021, published in June 2021.
See Our Ratings Methodology
Power-Saving Habits for the AM
Hoping to save even more on power? Follow these daily habits and you’ll be heading one step in the right direction:
1. Let the sunlight in
It may seem obvious, but open your curtains as soon as you can in the morning after the sun comes up. It may be winter, but there’s still natural heat throughout sunnier days that can help heat our homes. Keep them open during the day and close them just before the sun disappears. Opening your windows during the day will also assist to heat your home, as ventilation helps to keep your home dry, which in turn makes it easier and cheaper to heat.
2. Washing and drying your clothes
Unlike summer, we’re not working with the luxury of having long, warm daylight hours. When it comes to doing your laundry, try to get to it first thing in the morning of a sunny day. This will give you a full day of free outdoor drying time, so you don’t have to use your dryer, which will push up your electricity bill. Put your washing on a fast spin cycle, too, as that should speed up the outdoor-drying process.
3. Clean your dryer after each load
Don’t let your dryer run with its lint trap full of fluff and dirt. The result? More power use, as your dryer will be less efficient at its job. Lint build-ups can prevent air circulating properly. This forces the dryer to work harder, which results in greater energy use.
4. Heading to the gym each morning? Shower there
This one won’t be for everyone, but, if you’re heading for a workout each morning, make use of your gym’s showers. The best way to save power on your showers, is, you guessed it, using someone else’s! A 15-minute shower costs around a dollar, according to Genesis Energy, so you could save almost $30 a month. Put your savings towards your gym membership!
5. Only boil as much water as you need for your cuppa
Boiling the jug costs up to 45c per 2L, so be mindful of how full your jug is, and whether you could tip a bit of water out and save on power. Don’t go boiling enough water to serve up tea for five when it’s just you at home!
Power-Saving Habits for the PM
1. Make sure your heat pumps are set to an appropriate temperature
Set your heat pumps and heaters to a timer and to a healthy room temperature (19C to 21C is a good temp). And just use heating in the rooms that you are going to be in. Heating a room up before you use it is okay, but this rarely needs longer than 10-15 minutes before you go in. Have that in mind if you’re cranking up a heater before bed.
Using a heat pump? Make sure to clean both your indoor and outdoor heat pump filter regularly, at least once a year, to ensure the heat pump heats to its full potential. This is a quick and easy process, unless the placement of the outside unit is tricky to get to.
2. Switch appliances off at the wall
Another simple one, but it all adds up. It might feel like you’re doing a lot by switching off your TV or computer when it’s not in use, but are you switching it off at the wall, too? Some electrical products, such as TVs, laptops and video games, can continue to burn power when left on standby. Get into the good habit of switching off all your electronics at the wall when you’re finished with them. You could save power and a few extra dollars by the month’s end. Try setting a reminder on your phone to switch off everything before going to bed each night.
3. Close your doors!
Heat the rooms that you’re using and close your doors to limit the space your heaters need to fill with warm air. If you’re running smaller heaters, like column or fan units, closing off space is especially necessary. This is a simple tip, but it makes a massive difference.
4. Layer up
Make sure you’re dressed for the cold. We’re not talking arctic temperatures, but if you’re used to wearing a T-shirt inside, you’ll likely be cranking up your heating, too. Wear a merino/thermal, something light and comfortable, but something that will keep warmth in.
5. Showering at night? Use a modified shower head
The average modern shower head delivers hot water at about 12 litres per minute. This flow of gushing hot water creates a great high-pressure shower, but it can also be a nightmare when it comes to your power bill. The easy solution here is to invest in a water-saving shower head. You probably won’t notice the difference in water pressure, but you will notice the savings month to month.
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