With winter upon us a local budget advisory service says people need to be more aware of their power usage.

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service adviser Pearl Pavitt said she saw lots of people struggling with their bills, and power could become more of a problem in winter as people used more.

She said a lot of people had problems because they did not understand the connection between their usage and the kilowatt rating of the appliance being used, ie. a 2 kilowatt heater used two units of power per hour.

"People have to be aware. A lot of it is understanding what your power bill consists of, how it is made and then making the choice of which power company is best for you."


She said if people did not understand this type of thing, they should go see a budget adviser and take their power bill with them.

"One piece of very good advice is to check and record how much power you use per day."

If people could get their power down to 22 units per day or less (ie. 8000 units per annum) they could become low users with their power company, Mrs Pavitt said.

Mrs Pavitt said other advice was that if water was too hot it may be necessary to change the temperature of the hot water cylinder, and to use cold water for tasks such as rinsing dishes.

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People could also check to see if their power bill had been read or estimated each month, as a low estimate could be followed by a high reading, she said.

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Mrs Pavitt said, as budget advisers, they hoped people were aware different companies offered different rates and there was a choice.

Grey Power Rotorua president Rosemary MacKenzie said the organisation had an arrangement with Pulse Energy and provided a Grey Power Electricity plan, for members to receive a discounted price.

She said elderly people on a fixed income did have great difficulty affording power in the cold, particularly those alone.

She knew of several Grey Power members who wore their dressing gowns on top of their clothes because they could not afford to have the heater on, she said.

"With the increased use of electricity it can get rather difficult."

Mrs MacKenzie said she thought power discounts for those on the Gold Card and those eligible for the community services card would be helpful.

- For more information on power usage go to http://www.whatsmynumber.org.nz.