We all know that insulating your house, using thermal curtains, and choosing energy efficient appliances can help reduce your power bills, right? It’s stuff that makes sense. But did you know that there are also a few lesser-known tips and tricks that can help minimise the sting of higher power bills? Here’s our list of the top 5 things that Freestylers and FIXIE-ers can do to REALLY impact those bills.
1. Shift your load
For Flicksters on our spot price plan, Freestyle, the cost of power on the wholesale market changes every 30 minutes. And, thanks to supply and demand, there are times of the day and night when it’s cheaper (and, conversely, more expensive) to use your power. A quick check of spot prices via your Flick app will help you to identify the times when spot prices are cheaper, and when it’ll cost you less to run your appliances (you can read more about spot pricing here!).
For both FIXIE and Freestylin’ Flicksters, load shifting can also have an impact on your bills if your distribution company (a.k.a your lines company) has different charges at different times of the year. For example, in the Orion Network (the lines company down in central Canterbury) we charge peak and off-peak fees throughout the year to encourage households to change the times they use electricity, and reduce peak demand on local lines during the colder season. By switching your usage to coincide with the cheaper times of day, you’ll be able to take advantage of lower power prices. We like the sound of that!
2. Use smart tech
Whether you’re on FIXIE or Freestyle, your power bills are dependent on two things: the price of power, and how much power you use. So, when it comes to your usage, it can be super handy to have a toolbox of smart tech at your fingertips - like plugs, timers, thermostats and light switches - that can be controlled from your mobile device (that’s some CleverFlicker ways of thinking right there!).
As we mentioned above, for those on Freestyle, the spot price that you pay for your power is dependent on supply and demand – the supply of energy available at any one time coupled with the demand for electricity from everyday New Zealanders. So at 6pm when a whole lot of people arrive home from work, start heating their homes and cooking dinner, the price of power tends to increase. But, as we like to say, knowledge is power: by using your Flick app or CHOICE to understand these daily trends, and combining this with timers or smart plugs to switch on appliances from your mobile device during low demand times, you can reduce your power bill significantly. Genius!
Even though FIXIE customers are paying a fixed rate for their generation, smart home tech like Wi-Fi plugs and timers are still super handy when it comes to controlling how much power you’re using (particularly if you’re one who tends to set and forget - like leaving the heater going when nobody’s home, or accidentally running the dehumidifer for three days straight. Oops!). Keeping your usage in check will help you to keep those power bills in line, too.
Interested in purchasing some smart tech? Check out WeMo, a family of switches and devices that allow you to control your home from your mobile, or head to you local appliance or technology store (like Harvey Norman or Noel Leeming) for some expert advice.
3. Check your plan
User plans are designed to save you money by optimising the balance of daily rates and variable charges. Most people choose their user plan when they sign up with their power company, then forget about it, but small changes to your living situation can have a high impact on your power bill. Adding to the family, a change in working hours or new appliances and power tools can switch you from a low user to a standard user or vice versa.
As an electricity user, it’s a great idea to try and get your head around your household’s electricity information, and ensuring you’re on the right plan for your situation is an easy way to reduce your power bills. Head over and have a read of our User Plan blog for all the details.
Here at Flick we’re not only trying to educate Kiwis on the ins and outs of Standard and Low User plans (and how to tell if you’re on the wrong one!), we also do our bit by checking that every new Flick customer is on the right plan for their property and household circumstances. Plus, we continue to check each of our customers every twelve months to make sure all’s well in User Plan land. We love a chat, so if you have any questions abour your plan, make sure you give us a call.
4. Analyse usage
Data tracking might sound dull, but it can give you some very important clues about your power usage. When your household is asleep and all appliances are switched off, it makes sense that you should be using very little power. Usage-peaks overnight or during the day when nobody is home could indicate an issue with your hot water cylinder or other appliances that are inflating your power bills. Our easy-to-understand dashboard illustrates when you use power and how much: check the Analyse tab to make sure your appliances aren’t using power without you.
5. Look beneath the surface
It’s easy to get sucked into a long-term fixed contract by shiny cash offers, prompt payment discounts and other add-ons that appear to be a good deal at face value. Before signing a 2-year contract in exchange for a $200 cash offer or a new tv, consider the long-term implications: will two years under contract with that power company cost you more than the cash offer or the new TV? Plus, being locked into a long fixed-term contract means you can’t leave the power company if you change your mind 6 months down the track. Eeek!
Keep an eye out for prompt payment discounts, too - they’re known in the industry as ‘late payment penalties’, adding between 10% and 26% to a household’s power bill (well above the actual cost to retailers of a late bill payment). Rather than rewarding those who pay on time, prompt payment discounts penalise our most vulnerable people who are most likely to miss a bill payment. A number of retailers are now looking to get rid of prompt payment discounts because they’re unfair, and we think that’s brilliant.
Got a top tip of your own that you’d like to share with us (please do!)? Head on over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment!