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Why Is My Energy Bill So High?

If you’ve opened this month’s power bill to a nasty shock, you’re probably wondering what’s happened. In this article, we go over a few reasons why your energy bill might be so high.

Given the variable nature of electricity bills, they are typically the worst offenders in shocking us to our core. The bill must be wrong? We didn’t possibly use that much electricity? How are we going to pay? These are just some of the questions that could come to mind, but what about the answers?

At a time when many New Zealanders are concerned about cash flow, Canstar Blue has produced a quick guide to help you understand that shock energy bill, and your next steps. 

Is your energy bill wrong?

First things first, this is, unfortunately, unlikely. Energy bills are very rarely wrong. Almost all New Zealand properties now have smart meters, which record your real-time usage. So unless there is a serious malfunction, then your bill is probably correct.

Yes, you really did use that much power!

In saying that, if your energy bill does look waaay different to what you expected, it may be worth contacting your power provider. But before you do, have a think over any recent changes you may have made that could have caused it.

Did you just buy a brand new heater last month that you’ve been running every day since? Because that might be the culprit!

Have your rates/terms changed?

If your power usage is similar to what it has been, but the bill is much higher, that could be a sign there’s been a change to your rates/terms. Were you on a promotional period? Has there been a change to your fixed daily charge?

It might pay to look over past bills and see if the rates have changed/whether any discounts had been previously applied.

Other reasons why your energy bill is so high

If there are no errors in the bill, and your rates are the same as they’ve always been, it’s time to start looking at what could’ve caused such a spike in usage. Some of the reasons could be:

1. A new appliance

As mentioned above, if you’ve gone and bought a new appliance, or new appliances, that could be the culprit. Have you been using it a lot? Is it a cheap model that has low energy efficiency? If so, it might be worth reconsidering your usage habits.

→Related article: The Biggest Energy Guzzlers in Your Home

2. Standby appliances

Appliances on standby may not seem a big deal, but they can cost us a hefty sum over the long term. Whereas standby appliances used to do nothing more than run an LED light, many appliances now remain connected to wi-fi, run background updates and more. That can suck up a surprising amount of energy, especially when you factor in just how many electronics we now have in our households!

Make sure you turn appliances off at the wall when you’re not using them, and/or delve into the settings of appliances like gaming consoles to prevent them from running background updates.

3. Heating/air conditioning

Depending on the method chosen, these can be some of the biggest culprits. A cheap fan or heater is great for keeping upfront costs low, but it’s easy for them to put a decent dent in your power bill. Heat pumps are much, much, more energy-efficient. But if you’re running one for hours on end, everyday, then the power costs can still add up.

However, the trick to reducing your heater or air con’s running costs could be as simple as adjusting its settings.

4. Peak/off-peak power

Many power providers now offer off-peak power. These rates are often about half of what you’d normally pay. Furthermore, certain providers also offer off-peak shoulder rates, where you get a smaller discount for times just outside of peak times.

What that means is you could have two or three different rates for your power, depending on when its being used.

The larger-than-usual bill could simply be down to using more power during peak times than months prior. Say, there was a change of schedule and now you’re cooking dinner during peak times every night instead of later on when rates are lower.

Essentially, while your overall usage may not be much different, you might have paid more for it!

→Related article: Peak and Off-Peak Electricity Prices Explained

Compare electricity providers with Canstar Blue

If you’re feeling anxious about your power bills, there are plenty of little steps you can take. But one key area of focus should be the power plan itself. Are you paying too much for your power? Are you missing out on perks or deals, or is your provider simply not providing you with the customer service you hoped for?

To help you find the best provider for your needs, 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 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 electricity providers for free with Canstar Blue!

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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