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Why your bill is high in winter

The more you use, the more you pay

Reality is, that for most people, our bills go up in the colder months simply because we use more power. It’s cold out there, and we don’t know about you, but for us, keeping warm is pretty high on the priority list. Sitting, snuggled up in front of the heater? Dreamy. Chucking a load of washing in the dryer? Too easy. Enjoying a warm, dry towel straight off the heated towel rail after a hot shower? Stop it.  

But all this cosiness, well, it all adds up. Here’s a wee summary of what your winter warmers are costing you:  

  • Hot showers – a 15-minute shower costs approximately a $1 per person 
  • Heated towel rail – a standard 80-watt rail costs about 48 cents per day if you keep it running 24/7 
  • Electric blanket – a double can cost up to 25 cents for every three hours that it’s left on 
  • Heat pump (2kW) – you’re looking at up to 98 cents per hour. 

Knowledge is power though and it pays to be conscious of your household’s energy use. It doesn’t mean you have to go without though. You can keep track with a cost calculator and there are heaps of tips and tricks to keep your bills down so you don’t have to give up your creature comforts during the wintertime. 


There’s more to it than you realise 

Regardless of how much you run the heat pump and electric blanket, there are other contributing factors that can affect your power bill. Electricity prices fluctuate and this all depends on demand and power generation conditions. This can sound pretty complicated, but with the help of the Electricity Authority, we’re here to make it easier to wrap your head around.  

1. Generation 

New Zealand largely runs on renewable energy generated by hydro dams and wind farms. When electricity demand goes up in the wintertime, we need to use other fuels like gas and coal to make up the difference. Non-renewable power generation is more expensive and those costs trickle into the wholesale market.  

Energy retailers buy electricity from the wholesale market to sell to customers. Parts of your monthly power bill go towards generating and transmitting it to your house. So, when the wholesale prices go up, retailers may pass these costs on.  

2. Distribution 

The power that comes through your sockets comes from the national grid, where both renewable and non-renewable energy is all mixed together. Before it gets to you though, it has to travel from the generator to the grid. When it gets colder, and demand for power gets higher, so do the costs for the lines companies to use the transmission grid. The lines companies pass this onto the retailers, who then in turn, pass it onto customers.  

It’s a complex business, there’s no two ways around it. But we find that it certainly helps to have a bit of an understanding about how it all works. That way, you’ve got a heads up for when those colder months roll around and the bills are a bit higher.  

At Meridian, we want to make things easier for you and making energy affordable is our jam. We’ve got a bunch of payment options to help you tackle the winter months (and beyond), including LevelPay. LevelPay lets you pay the same amount every month and you can pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly by direct debit. How’s that for budgeting made easy?