Big winter power bill sparks change

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2014

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When Blenheim homeowner Natasha McCracken saw last month's $434 power bill, she knew something had to change.

That change was her power company, and thousands of Marlburians have done the same.

The latest statistics from the Electricity Authority showed 4237 Marlborough households switched power companies last year and 4649 switched in 2012.

It calculated that the average annual household saving from making a switch was $214.

To date this year, 1785 Marlburians have changed power companies.

McCracken has estimated they will save $40 a month by changing power suppliers.

McCracken, husband Jamie and their two children, Megan, 12 and Liam, 10, live in Redwoodtown and use a heat pump to heat their home.

The last few power bills had been "out of control", she said.

"Our power bills over the last two months have been $434 dollars [each] and I was like ‘Oh my god'.

"We are not really bad with power."

They don't use a clothes dryer, McCracken said.

"I went out and bought brand-new curtains for the whole house to try and keep the warmth in and I'm the light switch queen. If someone left a light on when we weren't in the room, I would pull the light bulb out."

But even then, the power bill was still high, she said.

"We were quite surprised."

So after nine years with Contact Energy, they made the switch to Tiny Mighty last week, McCracken said.

Contact Energy corporate communications manager Shaun Jones said they appreciate customers had a range of energy providers to choose from and Contact strived to provide a great range of energy products, services and additional benefits.

The energy provider also offered a number of payment options to "avoid the mid-winter bill shock", Jones said.

"Our customers are hugely important to us."

In December 2013, Contact Energy announced it would not increase electricity or gas prices prior to a review in April 2015, other than to account for changes to network, transmission and metering charges, Jones said.

Those charges were out of Contact Energy's control but were passed through to customers as part of their bills, he said.

Nationwide 396,376 households switched electricity retailers in 2013, compared with 356,881 in 2012 - an increase of 11 per cent.

The national average annual household saving from making the switches was $155.

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- The Marlborough Express

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