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Learn These Power Terms To Save Hundreds!

Power Terminology from Power Compare
Thursday, July 20, 2023

Have you ever tried to look for a new power plan and been super confused by all the specific lingo that’s used? Things like kWh, standard vs. low users, or free hours of power? 

Well you aren’t alone! Many Kiwis find power terminology super confusing. This isn’t ideal as you could be missing out on huge savings, just because you don’t know what one word means. 

So to help you, we’ve put together a list of all the power terminology that you need to know! 

What is Power?

Power is what keeps your lights on and appliances running in your home. Power is a common word for electricity which is created by tiny electrons bouncing through a conducting material found in power lines - that's how it can travel all over the country.

Types of Energy

Energy is the broader term for electricity (power) and fuels like gas or LPG and other sources like solar power. 

Electricity: Creates energy through electrons bouncing around in conductive material like aluminium or copper so it can travel to your home or business through power lines. 

Gas: Also called natural gas, this energy source forms underground and is then piped to homes. Gas can be used for heating your shower, oven and home. Not to be confused with LPG (bottled gas, see below). 

LPG: Stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. This is gas that comes in large bottles (like supersized BBQ gas bottles) usually delivered to your home by your power company. Like gas, LPG can be used for heating your home. 

Solar Power: An energy source created by sunlight that is captured through panels (usually located on a home’s roof). Unlike gas and LPG, solar power can cover electricity usage as well as heating. Also, solar power includes a Buy Back Rate. This is the rate that a power provider will BUY BACK any excess electricity your solar panels generate, e.g. it could be 8 cents per kWh. Typically it will show as a credit on your power account. So, if you have solar power, it's important to find a provider with a great buy back rate.

Some terms you’ll see thrown around a lot! 

kWh: Stands for Kilowatt Hours. This is the measurement that is used to figure out how much power a household uses. This is also what your meter measures by. On a power bill, kWh is often called units

Retailer: A retailer is a company that sells energy to consumers. For example, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, and Electric Kiwi. 

Network Company: Sometimes previously referred to as a Lines Companies, these companies distribute the energy from the National power grid to customers’ houses. There are approximately 30 network companies and they each operate a section of the country. They maintain the power lines, so if there’s a planned outage, they make sure everything is in good order. Otherwise, if there’s an unplanned outage due to weather, they will fix the power lines. Some well-known network companies include Counties Energy, Vector Limited, Northpower Limited, and Powerco.

Contract Types: The most common types of contracts for power plans are Open Term, 12 month or 24 month contracts. Open term contracts give you a lot of freedom as they don’t lock you in for an extended amount of time. 12 month or 24 month contracts will lock you in for their respective amounts of time, however they often include great incentives like discounts. 

Termination Fee: If you exit a plan before your contract ends, you may have to pay an early termination fee. To find out more, click here!

Electricity Prices:

The price you pay for electricity will differ depending on what sort of meter setup you have.

AnytimeA setup on your meter where you get maximum power anytime during the day or night.

Day/Night or Peak/Off-Peak: A setup on your meter where you get different rates for certain times of the day. 

Controlled/Uncontrolled: A setup on your meter where your power is controlled for a portion of the day by the network (to prevent over-surging in your area) and for a portion of the day you have uncontrolled power (like Anytime). 

Daily charges: All customers have to pay these charges. It’s a daily charge from your retailer that covers the costs of delivering power to your property. These charges can differ for low users and standard users (see here for more information). 

No matter the pricing rate, customers are charged per kWh, i.e. for every unit of power they use. 

Bundles: Many retailers offer plans that you can bundle (combine) with other plans, like broadband, mobile or financial plans. The benefit of bundling is that the retailer will often provide you with a discount on your plans. The discount is usually on the broadband side of your bundled plan, so make sure to check you’re happy with the electricity pricing included.

Low User vs. Standard User

Power plans are usually split into two options. One for low users and one for standard users. Low use plans are for households with a small amount of people or for homes that don’t use a lot of power. Standard use plans are for households with a large amount of people or for homes that use quite a lot of power. It’s important to make sure you’re on the right plan. If you end up on the wrong option, you could spend a lot more money than you should. However, be aware that low users are slowly being phased out. Find out more here.

To help you figure out if you’re a low user or standard user, check this out!

Free Hours of Power

Many power plans now offer free hours of power. This is a new aspect of a plan where consumers can use as much power as they want within a certain time frame for FREE! 

Make sure you learn about free hours of power as it can help you save heaps of money! Find out more here

Smart Meter

Your house’s power usage is recorded by a meter. Most homes nowadays have smart meters but some still have analogue (legacy) meters. Smart meters are much more accurate and have many benefits to customers that will save you money in the long run. 

Check out how smart meters will help you save, right here!

Why do I need to know all these words? 

Understanding power terms can help you save hundreds of dollars! 

If you know all the words used in power plan descriptions then you’ll be able to understand the value of each plan better. You can find out whether a plan offers exactly what you want and whether it includes perks like free hours of power, which could save you bucket loads. 

For more advice on how to save money on your power bill, click here!

Head to Power Compare!

To get the best power plan, jump on Power Compare! 

Power Compare is a comparison website where you can compare various power plans and providers to find one that’s right for you! 

We have plans with special benefits, free hours of power, joining perks as well as exclusive deals! You’ll easily be able to find a plan that saves you heaps of cash! 

Plus, the website is super easy to use! All you have to do is:

  • Jump onto the website.
  • Type in your address.
  • Select some filters that match your preferences.
  • Hit enter!
  • Browse all the different plans available to you & compare them side-by-side.
  • Find one you like and switch!

Get a power plan that you’ll love at Power Compare! 


*Picture supplied: Image by dashu83 on Freepik
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