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Reaching For The Rug This Winter? You’re Not Alone

Media release                               Embargoed until 1am 23 May 2013

Reaching For The Rug This Winter? You’re Not Alone

Survey Shows > 1/3 of Kiwis Can’t Afford To Heat Their Homes Adequately

Auckland, 23 May 2013 – As the country bids farewell to one of the longest driest summers on record, a new consumer survey shows that many New Zealanders face a cold winter in their homes.

The nationwide Canstar Blue survey - of 2060 people examining consumer satisfaction with electricity providers - found that more than one third (36%) of respondents can’t afford to heat their home adequately in the winter, with Gen Ys and women finding it the toughest.

Derek Bonnar, General Manager Canstar, says that 45% of younger people face a chilly winter.

“Gen Ys top the results for being unable to heat their homes adequately. 41% of women also find home heating a challenge, compared to 29% of men.

“With the concerns people are expressing about their power bills and home heating, plus the wider impacts poorly heated homes have on health*, there is obviously still a need for more promotion and education on the ability to switch electricity providers, and how to economically heat the home,” says Bonnar.

Nearly three quarters of respondents had changed their behaviour to limit their electricity use.

There are some valuable tools and guidelines to help people save on their home energy bills provided by government agencies and electricity companies. Top tips from EnergyWise include:
·         Switching off the second or beer fridge
·         Drying clothes outside rather than using a dryer
·         Only using heated towel rails when needed
·         Switching appliances off at the wall when not in use
·         Shutting curtains at dusk to keep the heat in
·         Wash clothes in cold rather than warm water.

Switching Behaviour
17% of those surveyed have switched electricity providers in the past 12 months. The Electricity Authority’s figures show that switching power companies can generate average annual household saving of $175.

The Electricity Authority’s Retail Advisory Group is currently calling for feedback on options to promote retail competition by increasing consumers’ propensity to compare and switch retailers. 

“Our results show Gen Ys are more likely to switch power companies (29%), compared to a relatively low 12% of Baby Boomers.

“More than half of survey respondents (56%) have used an online tool to compare plans and providers, showing there is active interest in managing costs even if it doesn’t lead immediately to switching providers.

“Pricing options such as SmoothPay and fixed term rate contracts help with evening out electricity costs and reducing bill shock, especially in winter months. Companies are extending their range of billing options, reflected in the 23% of those surveyed who have taken a fixed term contract in the past 12 months,” said Mr Bonnar.

Fixed term contracts proved popular in Auckland, with 35% of Super City residents taking up the option in the past year, compared to 23% in Waikato and Otago, 19% in Wellington, and only 14% of Cantabrians.

Powershop the top
Canstar Blue’s survey found Powershop has the most satisfied customers, receiving five stars across all categories. This is the second time Powershop has taken out the overall satisfaction award, also scoring a five star rating when Canstar Blue last ran the electricity provider survey in 2011.

“Powershop has campaigned aggressively for new customers, and pushed a few boundaries along the way. They’ve been rewarded by their customers with this result, showing Powershop is well ahead of other providers in ticking all the boxes for customer care, value and satisfaction.

Click for big version.

“Powershop offer a wide range of billing options for customers, and pride themselves on transparency and flexibility. It’s obviously paying off,” said Bonnar.

The survey contained seven categories:
1.      Value for money
2.      Uninterrupted supply
3.      Availability of payment plan option
4.      Information/ advice about using electricity efficiently to save money
5.      Service
6.      Billing
7.      Overall satisfaction.
About the survey
Canstar Blue commissions Your Source to regularly survey 2,500 New Zealand consumers to measure their satisfaction across a range of products and services.

The outcomes reported here are the results from a survey of 2060 consumers within the survey group who currently have an electricity account and pay the bills,

Age Groups:
Gen Y: 18-29
Gen X: 30-44
Baby Boomers: 45+

To view the full results of the Canstar Blue survey go to:
*The World Health Organisation recommends that homes be heated to a minimum of 18°C and states that the risk of ill health increases once the temperature drops below 16°C.

Click for big version.


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