Big hike in Bay power prices

By Brendan Manning


Many Bay residents are struggling to stay warm with constantly rising power prices, according to new research.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment figures show power costs for an average Tauranga household increased $138 in the 12 months to February.

Figures are based on an average household using 8000kWh per annum on an all-inclusive rate.

One-in-three Kiwis cannot afford to adequately heat their homes in winter, with Generation Y and women struggling the most, a new survey has found.

The survey results showed 41 per cent of women found home heating in winter a challenge, compared to 29 per cent of men.

Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark said most women and children who entered the organisation's safe house were unable to keep themselves warm in their homes. "Quite often they're in unheated homes, or they're cold or draughty homes and the cost of power is a never-ending source of worry for them."

The Canstar Blue survey quizzed 2060 consumers about their power usage.

Canstar general manager Derek Bonnar said 45 per cent of younger people were facing a chilly winter. "Gen Ys top the results for being unable to heat their homes adequately."

New Zealand Union of Students' Associations president Pete Hodkinson said home heating was a big issue for most students. "Rental prices on average around New Zealand over the last year or so have gone up around 4 per cent. For the most part that isn't ever really matched by an increase in the quality of flats, and the winters certainly aren't getting any warmer."

Warmer flats were more expensive to rent, but heating poorly insulated homes often ended up costing even more, Mr Hodkinson said.

"With rising costs of living, dropping student support from Government each year and often narrow part time work opportunities - anyone would struggle to pay the bills."

Nearly three-quarters of the survey's respondents had changed their behaviour to limit their electricity use.

The World Health Organisation recommends homes be heated to a minimum of 18C and states that the risk of ill health increases once the temperature drops below 16C.

Consumers had been shopping around to find a better deal, with 17 of the survey's respondents switching electricity providers in the past 12 months.

More than 20,000 consumers in the wider Bay of Plenty region switched power companies in the 12 months to April 30, according to Electricity Authority figures.

Under the Budget 2013, funding for home insulation will be extended for another three years.

The Government has also agreed to develop a warrant of fitness scheme for Housing NZ properties, which may later be extended to private rentals.

EnergyWise tips include shutting curtains at dusk to keep heat in and washing clothes in cold rather than warm water.


Cold comfort 

$138.85 - electricity price increase for an average Tauranga household in the 12 months to February.

22,754 consumers in the wider Bay of Plenty region switched power companies in the 12 months to April 30.

Source: MBIE, Electricity Authority

- Bay of Plenty Times

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