See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

It’s no secret that the cost of living in New Zealand is on the rise. Like much of the world, we’ve been hit by serious inflation and mortgage rates. While the economy goes up and down, Kiwis are facing more challenges than ever when it comes to the basic costs of keeping a household running. Fuel in 2022 is very expensive, exacerbated by a number of factors. So, with all the talk around tighter budgets, what can be done to ensure the power bill isn’t another cost that’s putting undue pressure on the household? We explore this below.

Determine if your plan is actually the most cost-effective for you The way that you’re charged for power usage will depend on the power retailer you’re signed up with, and indeed the type of plan you’re on. For example, with Powershop you’ll pay a bit more in the cooler seasons and less in summer when there’s less demand on the grid. But we don’t do ‘spot pricing’ where you’ll be impacted by whatever’s happening in the generation market at a given time. You may also pay less in off peak and more in on peak which can benefit a household that doesn’t use the most power during peak periods.

Make an effort to learn more about the way your bill is calculated and the plan you’re on. It’s a really common story for us to hear about people who’ve paid the same power retailer for 10+ years with no change to their plan. Often these are ‘legacy’ plans that may or may not be best serving that household’s budget.  

When you know how your daily charges and per kWh charges are impacted by usage, time of use and location, you can start establishing whether the plan you’re on is right for you. Take a look at your retailer’s website where you’ll find information on their current plans. We encourage you to call your retailer to talk about what is the best option for you. With Powershop you’ll enjoy the benefits of award-winning customer service. Our team are famous for providing customers with the information they need to make the right call for them.

Understanding the peak and off-peak usage impacts on your bill

The reason you’ll hear so much about peak and off peak with your power retailer is because the costs associated with using your electricity at different times of the day do fluctuate. The national grid is used by everyone and the wholesale price of power goes up and down. Retailers pay wholesalers / generators for their energy and package this into easy-to-manage plans for the customer.

 Peak times are when lots of New Zealanders are using power at the same time. In off peak times, the demand tends to be less. Common peak times are first thing in the morning when there’s lots of hot showers, coffee machines, toasters and heaters getting us ready to start the day. During the work and school day, many homes are empty or under less demand outside of always on appliances like the fridge.

In the evening, dinner prep and cooking times are usually between 5-8 pm, so the national grid sees higher demand during those times and is therefore the other ‘peak’ period.

 If you’re engaging a retailer on a time-of-use plan, where you get savings by using more power in off peak, it’s important to know what these times are so you can plan your routine accordingly. With something like Get Shifty, our time-of-use offering, you can really save noticeable amounts of money with good planning.

Checking if the home is energy efficient

There’s a chance your home is secretly costing you money simply by not being up to scratch with insulation and fixtures. A loose window latch leaves gaps for cold, damp air to get into the home, putting heating under more strain to adequately heat rooms. You may also have old light fittings, wiring or appliances that were not designed with the best possible efficiency. Consider the cost benefit long term of having appliances that sip electricity carefully. Some changes might not be expensive at all such as replacing a rubber seal on a window. Others may need an initial investment, but over their lifetime will bring about savings.

Your power bill can and will be affected by a home that’s not managing energy efficiency. Along with your own checks, consider getting a qualified, certified electrician to come and inspect your home for potential issues.

Household usage habits - what can be managed better?

Depending on your household, the conversation about power usage can be harder or easier. If you’re all on the same page about reducing costs (or simply you’ve got young children who will follow instructions…mostly!), then you can find some great savings through shorter showers, more conscious cooking rituals and attention to sensible heating temperatures.

If you’re flatting, particularly in a group where you don’t know everyone very well, the chat about usage can be a bit sensitive. Start by circulating the power bill and ask if anyone has suggestions on how to keep it down. Don’t make it about one single person, but rather a team effort that will give you all more change in the pocket!

You can learn more about saving electricity tips in our full Saving Electricity guide.  

Sticking to preheat times

The oven is often left to preheat for far longer than it needs. We may end up getting distracted helping our kids with homework, doing the vacuuming, folding laundry or finishing off some work at the end of the day while the oven heats up. And while it makes sense to get the oven preheated whilst multitasking, many of us will make that simple mistake of expecting it to take far longer than it needs.

 Our suggestion is to use a timer to ensure you prep and put food in the oven as soon as it's ready. Given an oven can require 2,400 watts for typical cooking temperatures, an empty oven simply maintaining its heat while unattended means dollars wasted.

Lights off

Leaving the room? Turn the lights off. Leaving home at night? Leave a few lights on for security and close off blinds and curtains. Going to sleep? Basically, switch the lights off as much as possible, whenever you don’t need them.

Light being left on in a household where every dollar is being watched carefully is counterintuitive to your savings mission. Whilst modern LED lights might not drain much power in the short term, all power-drawing elements of a home will cost you over time. It’s best to simply get into responsible habits.

Getting smart with washing

We can’t avoid washing clothes. But we can pick smarter ways of operating our washing machines.

 The first cost saving measure is to opt for cold wash for all your cycles. Modern washing machines have fairly good spin cycles that leave washed clothes partially rinsed. This means they don’t take as long to dry on the rack as completely saturated clothes or towels might. Warm washes are rarely required in everyday laundry, and many clothes actually state they should be put through cold water only.

Another approach you should experiment with is your washing machines short cycle or eco settings. You may have a set cycle you use each time out of convenience, but these appliances offer a range of settings to suit your needs. Try a cold, short cycle on everyday laundry. With detergent and a good spin cycle, there shouldn’t be a need for longer cycles in most circumstances. This means less time operating, and less draw on your power.  

And when it comes to drying the clothes out, opt for your clothesline or rack in an area that gets direct sunlight. If you have a dryer, try and limit this to periods where there’s poor weather for days on end. A dryer used daily might cost over a few hundred dollars a year. That’s not insignificant money in a time where we’re all looking for savings.

Keeping the temperature level - not swinging

Control your home temperature evenly with moderate but regular heating cycles. Most new heaters will have timer functions (including heat pumps), which enable you to schedule heating at intervals which will keep things comfy without running constantly. It will also remove the need for sudden high heat blasts through an icy cold house - a sure-fire way to create expensive power spikes.

Drying your home out regularly

So much of our heating challenges come from dampness, moisture and mould. A home with dampness problems will be harder to heat as your heating will need to warm up these particles as well as the air. Instead, open up the home regularly to let fresh air throughout. This will push old musty damp air out and get fresh air in. If the weather is bad or you have a particularly damp room in the home, it may be worth running a dehumidifier to draw this moisture out. It’s quite amazing to see how much water a dehumidifier will fill up with. You don’t have to run this all the time, so the net result should still be lower power costs if you’ve adequately dried a room out.


Want to have your say on this article or have a question? Get in touch with us via our contact page or head over to our Facebook page.  

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