Background to the survey

Our first behaviour survey investigates the attitudes that NZ’s small electricity consumers hold about electricity use. Our goal with the survey was to gain a solid, robust understanding of consumer behaviour to inform our future research work, and help us build our understanding year-on-year. 

We commissioned Verian to run the survey on our behalf. Verian talked to 1000 households and 500 small businesses across the motu, to learn about their views and behaviours regarding electricity in New Zealand. We looked at their:

  • current electricity use
  • motives for what they use, and
  • intention to change their electricity use over time.

In particular, we focused on their behaviours and attitudes towards:

  • heating and cooling
  • off-grid capability
  • smart devices
  • high-consumption items
  • billing – including the cost and type of bill, and their motivation to save money on their bill
  • anticipated changes to their lifestyle and behaviour in the future.

Key findings

31 %

of consumers are thinking about buying an electric vehicle in the next 12 months

88 %

of households have at least one type of insulation in their homes. Heat pumps are the most common appliance for both heating and cooling.

14 %

of households have off grid capabilities, but only 2% are fully off the grid.

31 %

of small businesses are thinking about buying an electric vehicle in the next 12 months.

85 %

of small businesses report having at least one type of insulation at their workplace. Heat pumps and portable heaters are the most common appliances used.

14 %

of small businesses have off-grid capabilities already, like rooftop solar panels and electric battery storage systems.

Our findings showed that:

  • small electricity consumers are already making changes in their electricity consumption, often prompted by a desire to cut costs and reduce environmental effects
  • those with higher incomes are more likely to be investing in new technologies and benefitting from the energy savings available. However, fewer than half think of themselves as an early adopter of these types of technologies
  • 47% of consumers and small businesses were open to using smart appliances that could be controlled remotely by a power company and set to run at off-peak times when power was cheaper. But most wanted to be able to retain control of when appliances operated, rather than have them fully automated
  • many consumers and businesses would find it hard to switch to using large appliances at off-peak times when power can be cheaper. Just 9% of consumers and 14% of small businesses thought it would be ‘very easy’ to change when they use appliances like washing machines and dishwashers
  • a significant number of consumers are planning to replace gas or petrol-powered devices with electric ones
  • over the next five to 10 years: 
    • 48% of consumers think their home will have switched to mostly electric power tools and equipment, such as electric lawnmowers
    • 42% think their household will have an electric car, and 40% think they will have an electric bike, scooter or motorbike.

These findings highlight the importance of understanding the electricity needs of households and small businesses as the country makes the switch to renewables. 

Future surveys

We’ll run another behaviour survey in 2024, to track changes in consumer behaviour over time. As our Chair, Deborah Hart, has noted, NZ’s small electricity consumers “must be front and centre of decisions about the shape of our electricity system and how we deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable power for everyone.” The findings we gather from our behaviour studies will help inform our future advocacy work on behalf of these groups. 

We'll also continue to run our sentiment surveys, which help us better understand what household and small business consumers think of the electricity sector in NZ.

See the findings from our consumer sentiment surveys