Our questions for consumers
We wanted to talk to consumers across Aotearoa to find out the answers to 3 key questions we had about power, and household electricity use in particular.
- How worried are you about the household costs?
- Over the past 12 months, has your household made changes to reduce electricity costs?
- To what extent do you trust power providers to provide good value for money for their customers?
Talbot Mills to conducted a nationwide online survey with 1500 Kiwis to get some answers to these questions. We found that:
- from a list of 9 ordinary household expenses, power bills rated fourth highest in their top concerns – consumers were more worried about food, vehicle running costs, and mortgage and rental payments, but electricity was close behind
- around 1 in 2 consumers were often only heating the room they were in, and around the same number were often putting on extra clothes to stay warm
- over a third of consumers reduced the use of heaters and heat pumps and a quarter frequently turned off heaters altogether
- 1 in 4 consumers cut back on showers and other hot water use
- 3 out of 4 consumers said electricity retailers are failing to provide good value for money.
See our Chair Deborah Hart talking about the survey, and what we learned from it.
Deborah: Kia ora. Here at the Consumer Advocacy Council, our job is to be a strong voice for small electricity consumers. Their worries are our worries, so we thought we should find out what's really top of mind for them as electricity's an essential service for all of us. We've done a simple survey of nearly 1500 Kiwis, and here's what you told us.
First up we asked consumers about the pressures on their household budget during this time of high inflation. From a list of 9 ordinary household expenses, power bills rated fourth highest in their concerns. Consumers were more worried about food, vehicle running costs, and mortgage and rental payments, but electricity is close behind. As a result, many people are taking action to get their power bills down, particularly during the cold winter months.
Around half of consumers were often only heating the room they were in, and around the same number were often putting on extra clothes to stay warm. Not only did over a third of consumers cut back on the use of heaters and heat pumps, a quarter frequently turned off heaters altogether to reduce their electricity costs. Renters tended to take all these steps more often than those owning a home.
And do consumers like their electricity retailers? Well, not so much. They were ranked slightly behind banks, telcos and Kiwisaver providers. Only 1 in 4 kiwis reckoned their power company provided good value for money. What does this mean? Well, we think electricity retailers need to think very carefully about increasing the price of electricity at a time when consumers are so stretched and so many of their customers don't they're getting value for money. Consumers need to consider if they're on the best plan and the best retailer for them.
We'll have more to say about electricity and electricity companies over the coming months, and we will always be keen to know what consumers think. After all, we share their worries.