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Who could have predicted 2020 was going to be a year like it has? Not us, that’s for sure. The spread of COVID-19 across the globe and the fight to contain, reduce and eliminate has dominated our lives. Everyone’s been affected in some way, whether it’s health, employment, travel plans or lifestyle. We hope that you and your loved ones are coping the best you can given the circumstances.

If you’re a Powershop customer experiencing some hardship due to COVID-19, please check out our help page on this

With the first lockdown in New Zealand, the country spent weeks at home, with travel kept to a minimum, business closed and spending almost halving in April 2020. But what about power usage habits? Did the lockdown make a difference to how and when we use power? Today we’ll take a look at this, as well as give you some handy hints if we (hopefully not) enter another nationwide lockdown period.

Residential usage increases

With everyone required to stay at home for over a month, our home electricity usage was expected to increase. And data after lockdown would indicate that the country’s residential power demand did indeed increase by 8.5% in April 2020 vs. April 2019. 

While many people worked from home, lots of Kiwis took the lockdown as a chance to get jobs done around the house like painting and gardening. For a lot of people in the tourism, hospitality, transport and retail industries, working from home was unfortunately not an option. Kiwis took the time to bond with family and get fit by walking daily. These electricity-free activities may have offset some of the additional appliance and technology usage happening at home by those working.

You can check out our full article on saving power costs while working at home here. 

Business usage declines during first lockdown 

The really big change in power consumption happened in the business sector. According to data from the Electricity Authority,  Business power demand in April 2020 (1,321 GWh) saw a massive 27% decrease year-on-year vs 2019 (1,822 GWh). 

Covid-19 usage impact chart

This big dip in businesses’ trading ability also meant the residential usage as a percentage of the overall nationwide usage increased from 30% in April 2019 up to 39% in April 2020.  This drop in power usage by business is consistent with what we saw with Powershop customers. 

Power usage has been used as a measure for the speed at which different countries have responded to COVID-19 via lockdowns. It’s pretty encouraging to see the speed at which NZ got back to business power usage levels on par with 2019. 

What about saving power in a lockdown?

While the nationwide data for residential power usage didn’t look too extreme during the first lockdown, the reality is for some, power bills increased greatly. We have a detailed guide around saving electricity for anyone looking to cut back on their power costs while at home. During a period of lockdown where finances are at the front of your mind, these tips can come in really handy – drying clothes outside, closing off rooms to contain heat, switching off lights and cooking power-efficient meals all combined can bring your costs down. 

With the country getting through one nationwide and one Auckland-based lockdown at the time of writing, we’ve learnt a lot about how New Zealand can come together and get through some massive challenges. Our hearts go out to anyone affected by COVID-19 be it health, employment or financial challenges. Stay safe and look after each other Aotearoa!

Further reading

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