How To Avoid Getting Overcharged On Your NZ Power Bill

Date Nov 22, 2021
Blog category Power
By Khristine Eusebio
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Think you got overcharged on your NZ electricity bill? Our power bills just keep getting higher these days, so it's only necessary to follow best practices on how to save money, and make sure you're not paying more than you should.

If you've noticed that your bills are higher than usual, you might be getting overcharged! There are a lot of possible reasons why you’re suddenly paying more for electricity, including faulty meters, sudden changes in rates, and more.

Here are some important notes and tips to avoid getting overcharged on your electricity bills in the future.

Why do I keep getting high power bills?

If you noticed that your bills are higher than usual, it might be because of several factors. While it's possible that you're being overcharged, it could also be because you haven't given a meter reading in a while, or your power meter is faulty.

Read: What Is The Average Power Bill In New Zealand?

Here are other factors that might be causing your expensive power bills:

  • You suddenly have more people living with you
  • You’ve had visitors over the last few months
  • You bought new appliances
  • You've been using your heater more regularly
  • Your power provider has raised its rates. Your provider should let you know if their prices have changed, so make sure to contact your provider or check your email on their website in case you missed it.

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What can I do to avoid being overcharged for electricity?

Submit meter readings regularly

Provide regular meter readings to your supplier to avoid getting higher bills. All you have to do is submit them online or call your supplier. It's ideal to check your meter monthly or every three months if you're on quarterly billing.

Not submitting your readings regularly means your supplier has to measure your energy usage based on your previous bills. This could lead you to paying more than you need to. Some demand you submit meter readings regularly, so it's a good habit to set a reminder so you don't forget to do this.

Another way is to get yourself a smart meter.

Read: How To Read Your NZ Power Bill

Query your bill

If you think you're being overcharged, talk to your provider. If the billing was a mistake on their end, you should be able to get a refund. Your provider must respond within a maximum of eight weeks and if they don't, you may submit a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.

What if I'm on a fixed-rate plan? Can I still be overcharged?

If you're on a fixed-rate plan, it's unlikely for you to be overcharged on your bills, unless the current price under your plan suddenly changes or if the government raised VAT from its current rate.

Your provider is required to send you a warning first if your current fixed-rate tariff is about to end, and should give you an advanced notice that they’re changing their rates. This should give you enough time to look for a new plan or supplier.

Do note though that while fixed rates stop your rates from changing for a period of time, only the variable rate is frozen, so any changes on the daily fixed charge or EA levy will be passed on to the customer.

Read: The Best Power Deals In NZ For Long-Term Savings

How can I get a refund for my overcharged power bill?

Yes, you can. If your meter readings are inaccurate and have caused you to pay more than you should, you can get a refund from your power provider. This is why it's important to submit your readings, cause if you haven't and the overcharge is a result of estimated billing, you won't be able to get a refund.

If you have proof that your power provider is overcharging you, you have the right to complain and ask for a refund or refuse to pay for the excess, especially if your provider cannot provide any explanation on why your bills are more expensive than usual.

If you're provided with valid reasons, you can negotiate with your provider instead. If they've been undercharging you for the past few months and they suddenly charge you high on your next bill to make up for those months, you can negotiate to pay in instalments or other easier payment options.

If your provider doesn't have any valid explanation AND refuses to negotiate or give you a refund, you can bring your concerns to Utilities Disputes' attention so they can help you resolve the issue with your provider.

Filing for a dispute is free.

How do I know if my energy meter is faulty?

If you think your meter is responsible for your high power bills, turn off all your appliances for a few hours and observe the meter closely. If the numbers continue to rise despite all your appliances being turned off, your meter may be faulty. 

You can report this to your provider so they can have it checked and tested by an expert.

Read: NZ Government To Phase Out Low-Use Plans

Do I have to pay to get my meter tested?

Most power providers will test your meter for free if it's faulty, but you may be charged if needs to be removed or replaced. You may be able to avoid this by getting a smart meter instead.

Do note though that smart meters send automated meter readings regularly, so one reason why your electricity bill is higher than usual is that you have previously based on estimated readings only, so your energy consumption might be bigger than you thought.

Out of options? Compare and switch!

It's always an option to switch to a different power plan or provider if you think you're not getting your money's worth! Use a comparison tool that allows you to see your best power options based on your location and needs in just a few, easy steps. Find exclusive deals with glimp that you wouldn't normally find on providers' websites.

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