Switching Power Companies? Here’s What To Look For

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Have you received an electricity bill that has made you squirm? Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to change power companies. Each year, many Kiwis make the change to a new provider, saving themselves a decent amount of cash in the process.

Understandably, Kiwis want to save as much as possible off their electricity bills. The average NZ household paid $2067 for power in the year from March 2019 to March 2020, according to government statistics. Thankfully, there are plenty of plans to compare in NZ, but there are a few things to keep in mind when switching power providers. So before making the switch, read our guide, below:

Switching power providers: the first step

If you’re considering switching companies, as a first step it’s worthwhile establishing your contract status with your current retailer. If you are on a fixed-term contract, a break fee may apply if you seek to end the contract before its expiration. This could mean you’re better off waiting until your contract’s expired before looking for a better deal.

If in doubt, contact your current retailer directly. The Electricity Authority notes that if a break fee does apply “you can always talk to your retailer about how that fee applies, or if they can offer you a better deal”. So, if you can negotiate improved terms with your current retailer, it may well be worthwhile staying put, rather than switching.

Will it cost me anything to swap?

As mentioned above, some fixed-term power contracts have exit or termination fees if you switch before the end of your contract. If you’re moving house, you might also need to pay a connection fee at your new address when you sign up. Your new power company should let you know what these costs are up-front.

Is it worth switching power providers? How much can I save?

Yes. Electricity providers in NZ alter their pricing and plans all the time. If you’ve never changed your electricity provider before, chances are there is a far better value deal out there for your home. You could potentially save hundreds of dollars a year by switching to a more competitive plan. 

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How can I find the cheapest electricity plan? 

Take a look at your latest bill. There are only two main charges you need to concentrate on:

  • Fixed charges – these are displayed as cents or dollars per day. You are charged this fixed rate each day, regardless of how much power you use
  • Variable charges – the cost of the power you’ve used, based on consumption in kilowatts per hours (kWh)

Once you can see how much you are paying in fixed and variable charges, it’s easy to jump online and compare different power companies and the deals they’re offering. A good place to start is Canstar’s most recent review of electricity providers, which you can find here, as it lists all the big players. And for more information, check out our story: Simple Guide to Finding the Cheapest Power Deals.

Is price the biggest thing to consider when swapping?

While price is generally one of the key reasons for switching, there are other factors to consider. It’s worth checking for the following terms in your new plan:

  • Off-peak usage

Cheaper off-peak electricity isn’t available everywhere, or offered by 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.

  • 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. For more information check out our story Bundle and Save with the Best Broadband Bundles

  • Free power

Some power retailers offer regular free hours of power which, like off-peak usage, you can use to your advantage by adapting your energy usage.

How long does it take to switch power providers? 

You don’t need to notify your old electricity provider of your decision to switch, your new electricity company will do this on your behalf. Your new power company will then arrange the transfer for you. On average, it takes just three to four days for the switch to take place.

Will there be any interruption to my electricity supply?

Swapping power companies is a simple procedure that doesn’t require any rewiring to your premises. So, generally, no. The only difference you’ll likely notice is lower electricity bills! 

Will I be billed twice by my old provider and my new one?

No, you shouldn’t be billed twice. You’ll receive a final bill from your current provider shortly after the switch date. Your new bill with the new provider will be sent at the regular bill cycle for that provider.

Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction and value for money. The table below is an abridged version of our full results. Click on the big button below for more details!

See Our Ratings Methodology

Compare electricity providers for free with Canstar!

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