EnergyMate: Helping to save on power bills
Helping the people of the Far North save on their power bills
The effect COVID-19 has on communities is far-reaching.
With more people at home, especially through winter, for some this means an impact on their power bill—and the risk of increased debt.
All Kiwis should live in warm, dry homes with affordable energy costs. No family should have to choose between putting food on the table or turning their heater on.
That’s why in Kaitaia the electricity sector is trialling EnergyMate, a free in-home energy coaching service helping 100 families at high risk of energy hardship—when a family is struggling to pay the power bill or keep their home warm.
EnergyMate is delivered by community-based financial mentors from Kaitaia Family Budgeting Service and is being sponsored by local lines company Top Energy, alongside power companies and other lines companies across New Zealand.
During an in-home visit, EnergyMate coaches connect the household with their power company to ensure they’re on the most cost-effective power plan and payment terms and which take into account their wider circumstances.
They also refer whānau on to other social services as needed, providing housing or budgeting support.
Coaches also give advice on heating the home cheaply and on using appliances efficiently, check hot water and shower flow, and deliver free LED lightbulbs for instant power savings.
Combined, these steps can help a household make significant savings. Some can save hundreds of dollars a year getting on a power plan better suited to them, or by implementing simple energy-saving tips, and those savings can then be put towards the things that matter most—like having a warm, dry, healthy home.
Kaitaia Family Budgeting Service’s manager Raewyn Flay says EnergyMate is supporting households in the Far North that need the most support.
“Because of the lack of housing options within the Far North, we see whānau who are renting low-quality housing. They have low incomes but high rental payments despite the quality of the home.
“Tenants don’t want to rattle the cage in fear of eviction, so these families are living in cold, damp housing situations.”
“Every whānau say they’ve learned valuable information after the EnergyMate visit,” coach Tania Sneddon says.
“The concepts are easy to understand, and the actual process of the visit and working with whānau on the programme has been incredibly rewarding.”
Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw is right behind EnergyMate and says it makes absolute sense for the electricity industry and the community to work together.
“As a 100% community-owned company, Top Energy is committed to initiatives that can educate and help alleviate the burden of electricity costs,” Mr Shaw says.
“Budgeting services work on the front line. They see the day to day reality that many families face in struggling to make ends meet.
“We see our involvement as a partnership, supporting simple and effective strategies to reach some of the more vulnerable members of our community. We want to ensure they know they have choices and options to save on their power bills.”
The same advice coaches give to families they visit can be used by any household to save on power costs.
- Turn off your appliances at the wall when you’re not using them instead of leaving them on standby—that can save $100 a year.
- Only boil as much water as you need—you can save $30 a year by halving how much water you boil.
- A family of four can save $450 a year by reducing their daily showers by five minutes.
EnergyMate is run by the Electricity Retailers’ Association and is delivered in Kaitaia by Kaitaia Family Budgeting Service, with funding from electricity retailers Contact, Genesis, Mercury, Meridian, Nova, Trustpower, and Prime, and also Top Energy and other lines companies across New Zealand, and EECA.
Find out more at www.energymate.nz