Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's what on earth is happening in our electricity sector. Hosted by Frances Cook.

If you've ever shivered through a winter's evening because you don't want to turn on the heater and face a stiff bill, you're not alone.

Many people, myself included, have at times put their health at risk in a cold house because they simply can't afford for the electricity use to go up.

Well the first report out of the Electricity Pricing Review has shed light on why this has become quite so common.

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Household prices for electricity have surged up almost 80 per cent since 1990. Yes, that's adjusted for inflation.

Meanwhile, industrial users are paying 18 per cent less, while commercial prices have gone up only 24 per cent.

The review highlighted some other problems. People who don't shop around are paying up to 50 per cent more, but comparing prices between companies can be very difficult.

There are also at least 103,000 New Zealand families officially in energy poverty, with children overrepresented in those homes.

The review does include recommendations for changes in the sector, but systemic change can of course be slow.

I talked to Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson about what people can do about it now.

We discussed whether this report was a one-off, the impact electricity poverty has in New Zealand, and how to make sure you're not paying over the odds.

For the interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have a question about this podcast, or an idea for the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

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