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Cutting your power bills

We all get a shock when that first winter power bill arrives. Here are our tips for cutting your electricity use.

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1. Check you’re on the right plan

Switching power providers or plans could save you hundreds of dollars a year. To find out if you’re on the best plan, check out powerswitch.org.nz. Our free power-comparison website will show you the plans available and how much money you could potentially save.

Tip: you’ll get a better estimate of savings if you have a bill handy.

2. Create a cosy bubble

It’s no good paying for heat that’s pouring out of gaps under doors and windows, or being lost through uninsulated ceilings and floors. If the insulation and heating isn’t up to snuff, you can still block draughts and, with your landlord’s permission, install curtains and temporary glazing on windows.

3. Switch to LED lightbulbs

They can be expensive to buy, but it pays off in the long run. A standard 60W incandescent bulb costs about 50¢, but only lasts about 1000 hours. An equivalent LED lightbulb costs $18, but lasts about 15,000 hours. If the light is on for three hours a day, the incandescent will use about $17 worth of electricity a year compared with the LED’s $2.70. That’s a saving of $14.30 each year – for each bulb. See our LED buying guide for more details.

4. Turn off lights and appliances

It’s amazing how much stuff gets left on that needlessly sucks up energy. For example, a heated towel rail can cost about 49¢ a day – over a year that’s nearly $180. A dehumidifier can cost up to $2.46 to run over a 24-hour period, so if you ran it all winter, it would cost you more than $225 for the season. See our section on reducing dampness and moisture before plugging in the dehumidifier.

5. Check your hot water cylinder

If you have an older electric hot water cylinder that’s not insulated, you could be paying for heat that’s being lost. Wrapping it can keep the heat in. It’s a fairly simple process, just measure your cylinder then pick up some hot water cylinder wrap from your local hardware store – or ask your landlord to do this. You need about 5cm clearance around the cylinder. You should also check your water isn’t being overheated – it needs to be 60°C to prevent bacteria growing, but doesn’t need to be any hotter. An extra 10°C on the thermostat could be costing you $25 a year. Hot water can account for about 30% of household energy usage, so it’s worth thinking about where you can reduce it. See more hot water tips here.

6. Keep the house dry

A dry home is cheaper to heat than a damp one. This means avoiding drying your washing inside if you can, using extractor fans for kitchens and bathrooms, and regularly airing the home – even if it’s cold outside! Read more in our section on dampness and moisture. Also, see our experiment on the best way to dry your washing.

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Consumer Powerswitch lets you check if you could save money on electricity and gas. Just enter your details into the calculator to find the cheapest energy deals.

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A renter's guide to a warmer home

Our free guide provides advice and tips on what you can do to make your home warmer, cosier and cheaper to heat.

See more from our guide

Why is this information free?

This report is available free to consumers and was produced with funding from the Ministry of Health.

If you'd like to support our work as a non-profit organisation, consider making a donation. We’ll use your contribution to work for change to benefit all consumers.