Compare natural gas in New Zealand at Canstar Blue. Mercury, Contact Energy, Energy Online, Genesis, Nova Energy and Trustpower were compared on value for money, bill and cost clarity, customer service, focus on environmental sustainability, tools and advice and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
There’s a lot of information out there about finding a good deal on electricity, but what about natural gas? Piped natural gas – sometimes referred to as town gas – is an incredibly effective and affordable solution for all of your cooking, heating and hot water needs, but it can be difficult to navigate the market when you’re looking for a supplier. After all, not all households have access to natural gas and there are relatively few suppliers to choose from, compared to electricity. So how do you find a good deal on gas? Well, you could start by seeing what other Kiwis think about their gas company with Canstar Blue’s review and ratings. We’ve surveyed hundreds of paying customers to get their views, so you can make a better-informed decision about which gas supplier is the best fit for your home.
This year, we asked nearly 500 customers to rate their experience with their gas company, and tell us what they consider is important when comparing providers. The results show that value for money is the biggest driver of overall satisfaction, followed by bill & cost clarity and customer service. So, which supplier came out on top? Mercury Energy.
According to Canstar Blue’s research, 78% of gas customers have both electricity and gas with the same provider. This may be because some gas companies require you to have an electricity account in order to access their gas service, however it begs the question: does loyalty pay? Maybe not. Chances are you will need to regularly shop around to find the best deal on gas. Yet alarmingly, only 29% of respondents to our survey said they have compared natural gas companies online. If you’re one of the 71% of customers that haven’t compared, then this page will walk you through everything that you need to know about natural gas in New Zealand, so you can make an informed decision about which supplier you choose.
Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can often be confused with one another. While they are used for similar purposes, there are some critical differences between the two. LPG is delivered in canisters or tanks, and customers must order a refill or replacement tank every now and again. Natural gas or ‘piped gas’, however, is delivered straight to your home or business via a large distribution network of pipelines.
Natural gas services operate similarly to electricity, whereby customers have on-demand access to gas and they simply pay for whatever they’ve used at the end of the billing period. However, piped natural gas is only available in the North Island, and even then, not all households have access to the pipeline.
Provided that you’re reasonably close to the gas network, you may be able to organise a mains gas connection (to get natural gas). However, this can be quite expensive and it may simply be more affordable to buy LPG instead.
There are also some physical differences between LPG and natural gas. Natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, whereas LPG is predominantly butane and propane, which burns hotter and cleaner than natural gas. This means that LPG is the gas of choice for many restaurants, cafes and other businesses.
As for what’s cheaper, well that really depends on the market at the time. Generally speaking, natural gas usage rates are lower than LPG rates, however, natural gas customers must be mindful of the fact that they are required to pay a ‘daily charge’ for access to the gas network.
Like electricity, natural gas customers are charged both a ‘variable charge’ for the gas they use, as well as a ‘daily charge’, which covers the cost of supplying the gas to your property. There is only one type of variable rate charge for natural gas, unlike electricity which has two types – the standard plan and low-user plan.
Your gas provider will check the usage measured by your gas meter every month or quarter, depending on the billing cycle. Usage is recorded in megajoules (MJ) and converted into kilowatt-hours (kWh) for billing purposes. The variable charge component of your bill is calculated by multiplying the variable rate with the energy consumed in kWh. The daily charge component is calculated by multiplying the daily charge by the number of days in the billing period. Finally, adjustments are made to the final price to factor in GST, additional charges and any discounts that you’re eligible to receive.
Natural Gas retailers like to reward customers who make their life easier, with generous discounts that can help reduce the overall cost of your bill. There are four types of discount you might come across:
There are six key natural gas suppliers delivering residential services to North Island residents. These are:
Remember that some gas companies require you to sign up for electricity, as well, in order to access their natural gas service.
New Zealand’s six largest gas providers have all received the minimum sample to be included in our 2019 customer satisfaction ratings. In order to be considered in this year’s ratings, a gas retailer must have received a minimum of 30 survey responses. This year’s ratings include Mercury, Contact Energy, Energy Online, Genesis, Nova Energy and Trustpower. Here is a little more information about them:
Mercury Energy is an environmentally-focused energy retailer that offers a range of electricity, solar and piped gas services. Gas customers receive a 10% Prompt Payment Discount, as well as a bonus 2% off for receiving their bills by email and paying with direct debit. Further, customers that sign up for both electricity and gas with Mercury get a bonus ‘dual fuel’ discount of 15 cents per day. Mercury customers can also score a few bonuses, including access to live gas and electricity usage tracking, and the ability to earn Airpoints simply by paying their bills.
Energy Online is a no-contract based power and gas provider, focusing on making things simpler for New Zealand. With a set daily charge and a set variable rate for natural gas available for customers to view on the Energy Online website, along with a 20% prompt payment discount, it really does seem simple. Account management can be done through the Energy Online My Account, where you can manage bills and payments and take other actions such as organise moving your gas to another house in minutes.
Trustpower is a leading bundled utility provider, offering a range of electricity, gas and internet services. Its belief is that no two homes are the same, and therefore offers different plans to suit different homes – the Trustpower plan builder allows customers to take control of their gas options, to best suit their individual home. Customers can also receive a 15% Prompt Payment Discount off usage charges. Electricity and gas prices are capped until at least one year from the sign-up date.
Genesis Energy aims to create a more energy efficient future, and put control in the customers’ hands – offering three competitive natural gas products. There is the no-contract plan, a 12-month contract option including $100 credit or a WiFi Camera valued at $199, and a 24-month contract including $150 credit or a technology kit worth $379. You can receive a 10% prompt payment discount with all Genesis Energy plans. Genesis Energy is also the only energy retailer where customers can earn FlyBuys points for paying their energy bill.
Contact Energy is one of New Zealand’s largest integrated utility companies, offering electricity, gas and even internet services. With Contact Energy plans, you may be eligible for the Bonus Pan Special, or the Power Fairy Plan, however, the retailer’s biggest selling point is its rewards. Fixed term customers that sign up to the Fuel Rewards program could get 30 cents off per litre of fuel once every month with AA Smartfuel. Some contact products also have generous joining credits of $200.
As one of New Zealand’s largest natural gas providers, Nova Energy describes itself as ‘refreshingly different’, with some interesting offers and a local attitude to how it does business. Nova Energy has two natural gas deals – the Home Advantage Plan and the Home Freedom Plan. The first deal is unique in that it promises customers that their rates will be unchanged until 31 March 2021. It also comes with a $150 signup credit. Be mindful that breakup fees apply. The Home Freedom Plan, however, is a flexible, no-frills attached deal with no discounts or contract terms.
Natural gas receives much less attention than electricity, since many Kiwis don’t have access to it. Yet, while there aren’t as many providers to choose from, there are still plenty of unique offers for you to compare. What we have seen in this review is that different retailers have different attitudes toward gas deals – while one gas company might boast competitive rates, another offers better rewards and signup incentives. It’s all about understanding your own needs and finding a deal that reflects what’s important to you. So, stop accepting the status quo and take control of your home’s energy. Good luck!
Canstar Blue surveyed 2629 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers who have an active piped gas account and pay the bills. In this case, 435 New Zealanders.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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