Our DIY climate change challenge

The Powershop crew have decided to show our support for COP15 The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference by proving it’s possible to make a small change ourselves that can make a big difference to the world. We reckon we can each cut back our energy consumption by 10% for the 10 days of the summit. If all of NZ were to do this for a year it would save 200 million tonnes of carbon!

If you’ve been following the road to Copenhagen and feel the need to do something why not try and do 10 in 10 – 10% less power in 10 days.

We’re going to start on Day One of Copenhagen on the 7th of December through to the 16th, two days before the summit ends. Become a fan of the 10 in 10 Challenge on Facebook.

It may not exactly be earth saving, but it’s a start. Anyone is free to join in. All you need to do is start to record your meter reading every day leading up to the 7th and then work out your average daily use. On the 16th work out your average daily use over the 10 days using the Savings Target Spreadsheet and compare to your previous average daily use.

We’ll compile all the results and see just how much of those greenhouse gasses we can clean up at home.

20 thoughts on “Our DIY climate change challenge

  1. Ari Sargent Post author


    To be honest I think this stuff is a bit of nonsense. In an integrated power system it doesn’t matter who you ‘pay’ for your power, it is going to come from the same place. Requiring this information to be published misleads people into believing buying from a particular company will result in less carbon emissions. It won’t. Read my blog post from earlier this year.

    A good example of this is Powershop. We don’t produce any power! Under this regime, what would we publish?

    Essentially all power off the grid is ‘dirty’ based on the mix of generation supplying the system – that is why we have carbon offset products available, to allow customers to ‘clean up’ their power usage.

    If you are interested, there are a couple of Government websites that have statistics on generation sources and emission factors:

    Ministry of Economic Development
    Ministry for the Environment (2007)

  2. MichaelT

    As the Powershop website allows us to track our own meter readings as part of its functionality it surely shouldn’t be necessary to join Facebook to establish a change in consumption for the 10 days.
    If I take a reading at the start of the period (00:00 7th December) Powershop will automatically advise what my average use is (since the previous reading, provided that was 5+ days ago “Estimated Daily Usage:
    This value is based upon the most recent reading we have for this property and a previous valid reading taken more than 5 days prior to that.
    We calculate the difference between the two readings and divide it by the time between the readings to get this figure.”]
    We use the gap of at least 5 days to smooth any bumps and to take into account any difference between the time you take a read and the time you enter the read.”
    Then by taking another reading at the end of the period [00:00 17th Dec 10 days] the average for that period will be automatically established [provided there’s no intermediate reading]. If there is any intermediate reading or was one in the last 5 days then one can simply calculate the average for oneself.
    What I am wondering is whether it would be more appropriate to take the readings at GMT+1 (to match Copnehagen, 12 hrs behind NZ) or local time (GMT+13).

  3. Ari Sargent Post author


    You are quite right – the calculation is not too difficult and if you have access to your meter reading history (which you do with Powershop) you can certainly do the calculations yourself. The thinking behind the Facebook group was (a) to make a spreadsheet available to make it easy for people to participate (whether or not they are Powershop customers) and (b) to provide a forum for people to discuss and share their experiences. But use of the Facebook group is by no means a requirement. The other thing that you have perhaps overlooked is that we think it is important for people to enter meter readings every day during the 10 day challenge period (if possible) so they can track how they going so they know whether they need to save more.

    As to your question about GMT, I don’t actually think it matters. What we want to demonstrate that it is possible to save 10% in 10 days (10 in 10) – Copenhagen provides us with a good window when climate change is topical and there is enough days during the event to get a weeks worth of ‘baseline’ consumption and 10 days in which to try and reduce your consumption.

    Of course if you are doing your own calculations and prefer to match Copenhagen down to the hour, I am not going to stand in the way of your enthusiasm 🙂

  4. MichaelT

    Thank you for the quick reply. I must admit I had overlooked the good idea of non powershop customers tracking and reducing their consumption. That’s obviously important because they are in a majority – at least for the moment 🙂
    As I may be out at midnight Copenhagen time I decided to use NZ time.

    I must admit that I brought forward a couple of sessions of dehydrating fruit (very energy intensive) to get them out of the way before the period started and that has biased my pre Copenhagen average. So I’ll be looking to achieve a bigger reduction.

  5. JohnC

    Hey I’ve just noticed that my powersop rate has jumped from the published rate $0.21ish/unit to over $0.30/unit.
    Is it the powershop way to penalise low users (what climate challenge I ask, save 10% but still pay more??) , and for that matter charge them rates different to the ones you puport to charge?

    Doesn’t seem right or fair!

  6. Ari Sargent Post author


    I have just looked at your account and you have extremely low usage – I wouldn’t be surprised if you are our lowest.

    What your pricing reflects is the recovery of fixed network and metering costs over that small usage. With other retailers you would be paying a fixed daily charge, so you will still be saving with us.

    In any event, if this property is your primary residence you are eligible to go on our low user pricing – which will drop your prices back. You can select this option under ‘My settings’. I have asked someone from our contact centre to call you to discuss this with you.

    As I mentioned, other retailers have fixed daily charges that we don’t and with us you will only pay for energy you use, so you still benefit from reducing consumption.

  7. JohnC

    So does this mean that my rates will keep going up until my variable rate equates to the profit you intend to make from me (presuming the primary place of residence condition does not apply)?

    And when were you going to tell me that you were departing from the rates you imply I was going to be paying? (If I hadnt checked I might not have found out for another month)!!

    You don’t exactly make this behaviour clear in any of your publications!

  8. Ari Sargent Post author


    We don’t have a target profit that we intend to make off customers. Our commitment is to try and save most customers money. Indeed, very low users are loss making for us – we have to pay the fixed lines and metering costs irrespective of your usage, and unlike other retailers we do not have daily fixed charges (which is approximately $120pa for low users and as much as $350pa for standard users).

    We do have a number of FAQs that describe our pricing in our FAQs. I will take your feedback on board and try and provide some more specific information around this issue is included as well.

    I apologise that you weren’t given any warning of this change. I have also just reviewed our procedures with our Contact Centre and from now on we will email all customers at the time that their pricing drops below the low user threshold.

    Once again, apologies for the surprise – I have taken your feedback on board and we’ll definitely be trying to improve our communications.

  9. Jared

    This kinda ties in to what I was talking about… If a customer uses no power in a month, thus having a $0 bill, Powershop would still need to recover the costs of line charges by setting it higher the next month – or not in the case of a < 8000 kwh user in a primary residence.
    I guess this is the same as having a daily charge but with a months delay… and a fairer way of doing it (based on rolling usage rather than waiting 12 months to get a price plan rebate – re mercury).
    But how do you recover the costs of lines for a primary residence household who take a 3 month holiday…?

  10. Ari Sargent Post author


    Basically any customer who uses less than 8,000 kWh pa (9,0000 kWh pa on SI) at their primary residence is less profitable than larger users. The lower the consumption, the less profitable to the extent that some will be loss making – the exact crossover varies by network company. All retailers are required by law to offer tariffs to low users that have low fixed charges, and that do not disdvantage them at 8,000 kWh – in our case our fixed charges are zero.

    So if you are normally a 12,000 kWh pa customer and are away for 3m we will recover the costs over 9,000 kWh (making a simplifying assumption that your consumption is evenly spread) – and this is fine, you fully pay the fixed costs over the year.

    If you are normally an 8,000 kWh pa customer and are away for 3m then we will recover 75% (6,000/8,000) of the fixed costs (ie. the same as if you were an even smaller customer). In this case we do not fully recover the fixed costs.

  11. Alan

    I have a question,we have just in the last two weeks gone to a smart meter.The main reason to take advantage of the weekend cheap power (im in chch).what i have found out is that im buying power at around 18 cents but this is charged at 21cents during the day rate.To me this seems a little strange as i would have thought 18 cents was the top i would pay and any saving would be lower than that not to make an average. this does not save me any money at all and just means its more of a hassle to try and use more power at night to keep the average at 18cents where i was buying it around that price before the smart meter

  12. Ari Sargent Post author


    When we changed customers from an ‘All inclusive’ rate to a ‘Day/Night’ we committed to ensure that no customer would be worse off overall as a result and that the ‘Weekend rebates’ would be a bonus.

    In your case, yes you are currently paying approximately 21c/kWh for daytime energy, but you are only paying around 11.7c/kWh for your night usage. Overall you are still paying around 18c/kWh for your total consumption and you will receive your weekend rebate on top of this, so you are definitely better off for the change.

    So you do not need to do anything differently from what you used to do. There should be no more hassle for you. However, if you choose to change when you use your power there are additional savings available to you. Indeed, that was one of the reasons we created the weekend tariff. We acknowledge that shifting consumption into the night is not always practical, but shifting it into the weekend may be, for example drying clothes in winter time – it is not at all practical to do this at midnight, but doing it during the daytime at the weekend is.

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