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What's the difference between a standard user and a low user?

Who remembers what happened in 2004? Maori TV made its debut broadcast, and we finally got closure on the whole Ross/Rachel thing in the emotional finale of ‘Friends’.

What you may not remember about 2004 is that it was also the year in which the New Zealand government introduced the Electricity (Low Fixed Charge Tariff Option for Domestic Consumers) Regulations. This new piece of legislation meant that all electricity providers in New Zealand had to start offering low user plans that were designed to encourage households to make more efficient use of their energy.

Today, low user plans are a fundamental part of the consumer electricity industry and can help households with modest energy requirements save big on their power bills. How can you tell if you’re better suited to a low user plan or a standard user plan? Let’s find out.

What is a low user?

As the name suggests, a low user is any electricity customer who uses a relatively small amount of power. In the North Island, you are considered a low user if you use less than 8,000 kWh annually at your primary residence (666 kWh a month), while in the lower parts of the South Island you are a low user if you less than 9,000 kWh per year (750 kWh a month).

Low user electricity plans have a lower daily charge and a higher variable usage charge. This means if your household does not consume a lot of electricity (i.e. under 8,000 kWh or 9,000 kWh for the North and South Island respectively), you may be able to save a significant amount of money on your power bill over the course of a year.

The typical low user household consists of one or two people living in an energy-efficient home with simple electricity needs. Low users commonly have gas for heating and/or hot water, which can do wonders for reducing the amount of power you use. Low user plans are typically not available for holiday homes and other secondary dwellings, and may be unavailable on some networks in certain regions - please click here for information.

What is a standard user?

Most households in New Zealand fall into the standard user category. You are a standard user if you use more than 8,000 kWh per year at your primary residence in the North Island or more than 9,000 kWh annually in the southern regions of the South Island.

In contrast to low user plans, a standard user plan has a higher daily charge and a lower variable usage charge, making it the most cost-effective option for most people. Generally speaking, if you have a family, rely on many electric heating, or need to power a bunch of energy-hungry appliances, there’s a good chance that a standard user plan will be right for you.

Which plan am I on? Should I change it?

You can easily tell which plan you’re on by looking at your power bill. Here at Pulse Energy, we always discuss your electricity consumption habits when you first sign up and put you on the plan that best suits your lifestyle to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. If your electricity needs have changed since then (say, the kids have moved out or you’ve invested in a spa pool), it’s possible that you could benefit from switching plans. We allow one free plan change per year.

To determine which plan is currently your best option, you’ll need to calculate your energy usage. Look at a recent power bill and you’ll find a graph showing your kWh history over the past 12 months. If you’re a low user and it looks like the total kWh is over 8,000 kWh (or 9,000 kWh for the South Island), you might want to consider switching to a standard user plan. And the inverse is also true: if you’re a standard user and your kWh is lower than 8,000 kWh (or 9,000 kWh for the South Island), you may be able to save by switching to a low user plan.

Alternatively, just give us a call on 0800 785 733 and we’ll review your electricity usage and switch you over to a new plan if it looks like you could be saving money on your power bill.

How do I switch plans?

If you do think that you’re on the wrong plan, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to have a look the figures and help you move to the plan that best suits your needs. Contact us on 0800 785 733 or fill out our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch with you shortly.


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