Anne Wignall is on a mission to reduce her peak time electricity usage to zero. Thanks to her solar system, battery, and our MoveMaster plan with the Hour of Power, she’s getting closer and closer.
It’s quite the challenge – you can’t just turn off your fridge and freezer at 5pm – but for Anne it’s all about doing her bit for the environment and reducing power costs. Living in Christchurch, she’s also conscious about the security of energy supply in the event of natural disasters.
And it’s working a treat. Because of the day-time power generation by her solar, flexibility of supply from the battery and her separate solar hot water system, she’s able to keep power bills modest. In fact, thanks to the summer sun and an awesome solar buyback rate on MoveMaster, her EK account has recently been in credit.
All this, despite having an electric vehicle to charge!
Anne with her electric car which she
charges overnight on lower power rates.
Helping customers reduce their peak-time usage with MoveMaster is a huge motivation for us at EK.
Because the plan comes with cheaper off-peak rates – and half-price overnight (11pm to 7am) – it helps households reduce their bills. Shifting usage to off-peak times also means they’re more likely to be using electricity that comes from renewable sources. Doing this will help New Zealand reduce its reliance on fossil fuel generation until there’s enough renewables in the grid to meet demand at all times.
That’s something Anne is passionate about. She uses timers on her clothes dryer and dishwasher to ensure they only run at off-peak times and during her Hour of Power. The Nissan Leaf EV in her garage is also charged during the free HoP. In fact, because she can take advantage of free local charging points, Anne says powering her EV hardly costs her a thing!
The more power you move off-peak, the more money you could save and the better it is for the environment.
Mastering the Hour of Power
Anne describes her energy usage habits as ‘just the right thing to do’. The former science teacher told us: “I wanted to charge the car overnight because it’s better for the country – plus, it’s good money-wise too. I make the free hour of off-peak power 3am most of time because no one else is using energy then. When you do things on timers, you can do it anyway you like. It just makes sense.
“I normally score above 92% off-peak. My goal is zero kWh between 7am and 11pm but I haven’t hit that yet. Possibly under 1kWh is achievable. I enjoy playing the game.”
Anne has always been conscious of her environmental impact and wants to do her bit to limit the effects of climate change. But the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake has also influenced the investments she’s made in making her home as energy efficient as possible.
“My first reason for wanting solar was the security of supply. The second reason was climate change, and third reason was saving money,” she says. “Solar makes me happy, though it’s not for everyone. If you use most of your electricity during the day, it makes sense to generate it if you can. But I know it can take quite a few years until it’s paid for itself.”
Saving with solar-powered hot water
Anne attributes much of her money-saving success to her solar-powered hot water heating, which is why she encourages others to do what they can to reduce these costs.
“On the main roof is a solar hot water panel, together with a microprocessor controlling the hot water cylinder. As soon as I figured out how to do it, I set the water cylinder to only heat the water overnight (from 3am) if the sun did not do the job during the day. We shower and wash clothes in the morning, so on the rare occasions where the water isn't piping hot at 9pm, it doesn't matter,” she said.
“I set my Hour of Power to match my hot water setting, then I set the house battery to charge for that hour, and have a timer for my car so it charges then, too. Charging my car for an hour per day covers about 70% of my needs. The rest I mostly get from free chargers in select car parks like my local supermarket. It seems to me that paying to charge EVs is now optional… at least for someone driving 50km per week.”
Keeping warm for less
While her summer bills are low, winters in Christchurch inevitably lead to higher costs, despite Anne’s best efforts to utilise the solar and battery that’s been fully charged with cheap overnight electricity rates. But the heat pump is sometimes used at peak times. That’s why Anne encourages everyone to insulate their homes as well as they can – including double-glazed windows and draft stoppers – and ensure internals doors are closed so that you can focus on heating the most-used areas of the house.
“Do as much as you can to insulate your home because every little helps in both quality of life and reducing energy costs,” Anne says.
“This goes for people renting their homes, too. You could easily hook linings to curtains to help keep the cold out.”
Use the tools at your fingertips
Anne understands that her circumstances are unique and that not everyone is able to invest in their homes the same way she has been able to. She wants experts – and energy retailers – to help inform customers more about their power usage habits and where efficiencies are possible. She loves to use the EK app and other resources to monitor her usage and make adjustments where she can.
“I think the most valuable tool I have is the app on my phone that tells me, every five minutes, the power generated, power to and from the battery, and power to or from the grid. It shows me what appliances use lots of power and which don't. For example, I know my vacuum cleaner uses lots of power, so I try to use it on sunny days,” Anne says.
“People need more information about their personal energy usage, people need to know what uses a lot of energy and what doesn’t – everyone who pays for electricity needs to understand how their water is heated and when. Knowledge is power. It can help people alter their behaviour.”
EK customers have access to a range of helpful insights through our easy-to-use mobile app. You can monitor your energy usage over time, nominate and change your Hour of Power to suit your needs, and manage your account and billing information. Here’s our guide to mastering the Hour of Power.
We’re always working on new, innovative ways to help customers shift their energy usage off-peak, reduce their bills and support the energy transition. We’re especially proud of the trial we have been undertaking to control the times when hot water cylinders are powered to help households cut back on costs. Learn more about that trial here.
If you have an awesome story about using our MoveMaster plan – or any other great tips to become more energy-efficient – we’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page.