Winter is typically the time when your power bill is highest – from using heaters, electric blankets, clothes dryers, and your oven more often to cook hot meals.
So before you open this month’s bill to find a shocker, consider whether switching to a different provider might give you a better deal.“Electricity retailers are highly competitive, so it’s worth asking a few questions,” explains Carl Hansen, the Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority. Every family needs to be able to able to tick off these six things to make sure you’re getting the best deal – how many have you thought about?
1. How long are you locked into a contract for, and is there a break fee?
If you think things might change – for example, you’re moving house or expecting a baby – it’s worth thinking about whether the contract will suit your future needs.
2. Does how they bill you suit your personal accounting system?
Do you like bills to come in when your pay cheque does, so you can pay them straight away? Or do you prefer to wait and pay all of your bills at the same time each month? Also, most retailers already offer direct debit and online payments, but do they offer alternative payment options such as prepay, weekly, or smooth pay? And how can you receive your bill? Some retailers will only do online billing, while others offer paper-based billing but charge for this.
3. Is it easy to track your usage?
Does your electricity provider have a phone app or online tool to help you track your power use? If you can change the time of day you are using your power – doing laundry or showering off-peak, for example – it might be worth looking for a power provider who offers lower prices at certain times of the day. It’s also great for young teenagers and teens to see how much that long shower after school costs.
4. Are there any special sign-up deals?
Will your current provider match a special from another company?
5. Have you tried renegotiating your current deal?
If you’re happy with the service you’re getting from your current power retailer, but you’ve been offered a better deal elsewhere, it can pay to give your current retailer a call to see if they can match it (or better it).
6. Have you actually looked to see what other deals are out there?
Don’t put it in the too-hard basket. It’s not that difficult, really! For a free and independent view on what electricity deal is right for you, check whatsmynumber.org.nz – it’s a fast and easy way to see if you could save money on your electricity.
Competition in the electricity market is hot right now, even though the weather is cold – and it pays to be proactive about determining whether your power provider is giving you the best deal to keep your bill from getting out of control.
The Electricity Authority is an independent Crown Entity with a statutory objective to promote competition in, reliable supply by, and the efficient operation of, the electricity industry for the long-term benefit of consumers.