The power to switch – comparing electricity prices
Most of us know roughly how much we have to pay for many standard household items. And yet a lot of people are in the dark when it comes to electricity – a commodity we use every day and that makes up a far chunk of our monthly expenses. You can find out what your power should be costing online at Powerswitch.
At Powerswitch you can compare domestic electricity prices and plans, and choose the best plan to suit your lifestyle. A free Internet service, Powerswitch is provided by the Consumers’ Institute under contract from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It is funded by a levy charged to electricity generating companies.
How it works
Based on research into the different ways people use electricity, Powerswitch takes the information you put into an online form, including details about your pattern of electricity use and details from your latest power bill (if you have it), and estimates how much electricity you will use in a year.
Using this estimate, Powerswitch compares the different pricing plans and suggests the most suitable one for you. If you wish, you can look at all the comparable pricing plans available in your area or at what a different type of plan would cost. This will give you some idea of the significant price variation between the cheapest and most expensive plan options available.
Doing your homework
Because the price comparisons are based on estimates, the Consumers’ Institute suggests you always check with the power companies before making any decision to switch providers.
You should not be charged for switching providers, by either the company you are leaving or your old company, as long as you are happy for them to make the change at the end of a billing period. However, some companies may charge a “bond” if they think you do not have a good credit history. Details of which companies charge bonds are given on Powerswitch.
Also be aware that there may be some costs associated with changing plans. For example:
- some providers charge a fee for existing customers who want to switch to another plan with their company;
- some providers insist that if you want to switch to them as a new customer, you must first go onto a plan equivalent to your existing plan, and then (after you've switched) pay the appropriate fee to switch to any new plan you want;
- switching to a new plan may require a new meter or modifications to your existing meter, and you may be charged for this.
Other useful information
Powerswitch also includes information on how to make the switch to a new power provider, how to make a complaint to the Electricity Complaints Commission, tips for energy saving in your home, answers to frequently asked questions, information about power contracts, and contacts details for power companies.
Visit Powerswitch. If you don’t have Internet access at home, your local library may have an Internet service available for you to use at a fee.