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Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Many cut heating to save - survey

Consumer NZ reports 38 per cent have their homes colder than they would like as they try to keep power bills down.
Green Party's energy spokeman Gareth Hughes.
Green Party's energy spokeman Gareth Hughes.

Power prices are an ongoing worry for many people, who hold back heating their homes in a bid to cut down on the power bill, a survey shows.

Figures from a new Consumer NZ survey showed 38 per cent of people said their homes were not as warm as they would like because they were restricting their energy use to keep bills down.

Asked how much they tried to cut their power bill, 16 per cent said not at all, 29 per cent said sometimes, 41 per cent said all the time and 14 per cent of people were neutral.

Those living in a rented home were more likely to turn down the heat, with 43 per cent of renters cutting back on heating because of costs.

That compares with 33 per cent who own their homes and cut heating to save.

Grey Power Auckland president Anne-Marie Coury said a lot of those choosing not to turn the heater on because of high costs were pensioners.

"In Auckland, 51 per cent that are entitled to national Super ... have no other income. So if their rates go up ... what do they cut back on? Food and electricity."

Ms Coury said Grey Power had members who employ all sorts of nifty tricks to help keep their homes warm and reduce the power bill.

"My favourite is bubblewrap on the window. If you apply a small amount of moisture to the bubblewrap, you can stick it to your window and this will act as insulation. It's a very cheap form of double-glazing, really.

"It depends on how fashion-conscious and cheap you are about things. Some people take it off every morning and put it back on at night."

Others did their washing at night, between 9pm and 11pm, because they believed running a wash at off-peak times would trim down the bill.

Consumer NZ spokeswoman Sue Chetwin said the survey showed consumers linked with smaller electricity brands were more likely to be satisfied.

"Less than half of those with Genesis Energy - the largest electricity retailer - felt they were getting good value. Just 36 per cent were very satisfied overall," she said.

Smaller brands Powershop and Nova Energy had the most satisfied customers, with 71 per cent and 72 per cent rating them favourably, respectively.

The Green Party's energy spokesman, Gareth Hughes, said a better response was required to help Kiwi families.

"No family should be forced to choose between the power bill or putting food on the table this winter.

"We've got things back to front when families have to pay extra for their power or be forced to go without heating to subsidise big businesses."

Senior dance crew say 'take a hike'



Old school hip hop just took on a whole new meaning, with an elderly dance crew showing off their skills - and dislike of a proposed electricity price hike - in an animated video.

The Hip Op-eration Crew has teamed up with Entrust, formerly known as the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust, to stand against a $78 million electricity transmission price hike for Aucklanders.

The Hip Op-eration Crew's manager and boss Billie Jordan.
The Hip Op-eration Crew's manager and boss Billie Jordan.


The hike has been proposed by the Electricity Authority.

In the video, the elderly crew - made up of citizens aged 71 to 96 from Waiheke - are dressed in over-sized jackets, hoodies and gold chains.

As they show off slick moves, the rap in the background says: "Yo, Mr EA, what you doin' to your homies in the hood? Your Auckland power increases ain't no good.

"We can't keep warm in our homes at night, with a $78 million dollar price hike!"

At 7.30 last night, the video on the Entrust Facebook page had reached 73,000 views.

Entrust deputy chairman Michael Buczkowski said from the feedback they had received via social media and during the filming of the video, many people did not agree with the proposal.

"The increase would see average residential customers paying approximately $97 extra each year.

"Businesses would face a $148 increase each year, schools an additional $1577 and large electricity users like hospitals paying up to $22,000 extra each year," he said.

"This change would have an adverse impact on Auckland families, the elderly and small business owners who are at the heart of Auckland's economic engine room and least able to afford large increases."

Cheap ways to keep toasty

• Apply bubblewrap on windows. It acts as a cheap form of insulation.

• Have thick, fitted curtains and draw them at dusk to keep the day's heat in.

• Install a heat pump. It is more energy-efficient and can also be used as a central air conditioner in the summer.

• Place rolled-up towels or blankets against doors and windows to keep out draught.

- NZ Herald

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