AWARDS FINALIST: Northpower – home energy education

2 Jul 2024

Northpower’s innovative Home Energy Education programme is delivering more than $2.5 million of potential annual savings for households in its region experiencing energy hardship.

The project, offered in partnership with Ecobulb, aims to provide practical tools and guidance to help reduce the electricity bills of struggling households in the Whangārei and Kaipara districts.

In the past two years the programme, which also offers advice on selecting electricity retailers and billing plans, has provided average savings of $763 a year per household – beating its savings target by almost 53 per cent.

About $503,000 has been invested to date, including $243,000 from Northpower and $260,000 from the Support for Energy Education in Communities Fund. The SEEC fund is managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Northpower says that up to the end of April, the programme’s six assessors had completed assessments of 2686 homes and distributed almost 30,500 LED light bulbs and 2568 low-flow shower heads.

Ongoing, sustainable

The company says the programme is ongoing and should be sustainable given the lasting economic and social benefits it is providing.

The assessors, five of whom are Māori, are well-connected into the community. That local knowledge has helped them target their efforts where they will have the most benefit, and that in turn is generating fresh requests for assessments from the community as well as referrals from households already helped.

Northpower says the programme has also drawn on and deepened its relationships with local schools, marae, and health organisations as well as Anglican Budgeting Services, Northland Kindergarten Association and Habitat for Humanity.

As well as delivering savings to customers, the company says it is providing meaningful employment for the assessors and has also encouraged energy efficiency conversations with its customers – especially important at a time of rising living costs.

Participants have also become genuine advocates and are sharing what they have learned with others.


The company, itself community owned, says a key part of the programme’s success is the personalised advice that complements the energy-saving hardware provided.

Its non-commercial nature also means no-one is being asked to buy something, and households are empowered to make changes on their own terms.

Something as simple as advice on keeping heat pump filters clean can also have immediate health benefits.

Northpower says the programme has proved the importance of energy education and has demonstrated the wider benefits that even small changes of behaviour can make within households.

It is committed to keeping the programme going.

“The assessments provide the opportunity and time for an in-depth discussion about the household’s power use and questions and concerns are addressed at the time,” Northpower says.

“We find that most households make the changes because they are simple.”

The Community Initiative of the Year category is sponsored by Eagle Technology.