If you signed up for the “Big Winter Switch” campaign, your offer will now be waiting in your inbox. We’ve crunched the numbers and checked out the contracts to see if it’s an offer you can’t refuse.
Run as a partnership between Fairfax’s stuff.co.nz site and energy broker Saveawatt, the campaign used bulk buying power to negotiate with retailers to try to land a good deal. About 10,000 people signed up during May.
We were sceptical whether powercos would offer cheap, locked-in rates, given the high spot (wholesale) electricity prices over the past month as a result of low lake levels down south.
We’ve looked at several deals offered to customers. While they’re generally cheaper than the national average, in some cases the rates aren’t a match for the participant’s current power deal.
For example, one Wellington-based participant’s offer from Nova is a fixed charge of $2.00/day with a variable rate of 19¢/kWh. Her current retailer Electric Kiwi charges a cheaper daily rate ($1.88) but a slightly higher per unit charge of 20¢/kWh.
But in this case, it's not as cut and dried as just comparing these figures. Electric Kiwi offers a free off-peak hour of power and the daily rate is lower, so if she's able to shift significant amounts of her electricity consumption to this hour, she may be better off sticking with her current retailer. On the other hand, Nova offers a prompt payment discount of 15%. Providers offering unique tariff structures, such as Electric Kiwi, mean you need to carefully assess your consumption habits before making the switch.
Another received a slightly more competitive offer, in this case from Electric Kiwi. Currently a Meridian customer charged 80¢/day and 24¢/kWh, Electric Kiwi came through with a tariff of 78¢/day and 24¢/kWh. Considering the comparable rate and its free hour of power, they’ve chosen to accept the offer.
If you opt for a deal from Nova you’ll be locked into using the provider until August 2018, with a $150 break fee if you end the plan early. That said, Nova is offering a $100 credit once you join up. Some providers in the switch, such as Electric Kiwi, are offering deals with no fixed term.
While some retailers are offering decent rates in their Big Winter Switch plans, we think you should weigh up the following before jumping in:
- How do the rates compare to your current bill? Grab a recent power bill and compare the variable (per kWh unit) rates and fixed charges to your offer, then visit powerswitch.org.nz to see if there are any better deals available.
- Check the terms and conditions: how long will you be locked in with this retailer, how much of your bill is actually fixed and are there any contract break fees?
- Will your new provider offer decent customer service if things go wrong? Check out our energy providers satisfaction survey for more information.