Through the power of "shulbs"

Help end energy poverty in Aotearoa

Time to Give a Flick

  • 20% of Kiwis say they've gone without electricity or heating because they can't afford it
  • More than 25,000 Kiwi kids are hospitalised with respiratory issues each year
  • Energy poverty is thought to contribute to 1,600 unnecessary deaths in New Zealand each winter

Throught the power of shulbs, we've hit our goal to fit out the homes of vulnerable families with 10,000 energy efficient lightbulbs, and collectively save them more than $1,000,000 on their electricity costs! #FlickYeah

The McLeod family of Wellington - living in energy poverty
Living in energy poverty

What is energy poverty?

Energy poverty is a complex but critical national issue. It’s about low wages, poor quality housing and the cost of energy. To end energy poverty we need systemic change which means everyone in the system must recognise the issue and think about what they can do to help.

We’ve spent the past three years building a business that, over time, cuts about 20% off a household’s energy bill. Now, we want to make sure that smart technology reaches the people who need it the most.

Meet the McLeod family of Wellington. In winter 2017, they faced massive power bills to keep their home warm. Read their story on living in energy poverty.

"Flick launched its new power service in Nelson by donating 300 energy saving bulbs to the marae. The marae works with many families experiencing hardship and supports them in a number of ways."

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"Flick has donated 2000 of the bulbs to Auckland City Mission, 1080 of which the mission is providing to Manukau Urban Māori Authority to distribute to local families in need."

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10,000 energy saving lightbulbs donated

"Innovation isn’t truly disruptive until it reaches the people that need it the most.” - Flick CEO, Steve O'Connor

At Flick, we believe we have a responsibility to raise national awareness of energy poverty - read more about our philosophy from the Chief Flickster himself - but we also want to do something tangible to help vulnerable families right now.

Thanks to you, we managed to fit out Kiwi homes with more than 10,000 energy efficient lightbulbs, so we can save them a collective $1m on their electricity costs. But we don't want the conversation to end there

Giving a Flick

Jordan Watson

"Energy Poverty is a real issue that a lot of us hadn't really thought about, but we all need to help with." - Jordan Watson, AKA How to Dad

Jordan's support help us raise awareness about the issue of energy poverty in Aotearoa. Big ups to the power of shulbs!

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Lance O'Sullivan

"We should be front footing a lot of these problems that are due to environmental factors. These are resulting in our children becoming sick. And part of that starts with educating and empowering communities and families to understand where they can do things for themselves."

Dr. Lance O'Sullivan is a doctor operating out of Kaitaia, who was named New Zealander of the Year 2014, thanks to his work on rural health projects.

Watch Lance's video on the subject of energy poverty.

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Kiri Waldegrave

"Our assessors go out to homes and see people, and often we're seeing families they are doing a really great job, with the limited resources that they have. But sometimes they have to make a tough choice of heating or eating -and it shouldn't be like this."

Kiri Waldegrave is a Senior Public Health Advisor from Wellington. Kiri works with Well Homes, an initiative that links whānau to appropriate services like insulation, heating, or curtain banks.

Watch Kiri's video on energy poverty.

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Malcolm Rands

"There's not much point living in a lovely neighbourhood, if you can't afford to heat your house in winter - when it's cold and damp, and the kids might get pneumonia."

Malcolm Rand is the co-founder of Ecostore, and is currently running the Fairground Foundation - an organsation dedicate to solving social and environmental issues.

Watch Malcolm's video on energy poverty.

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Matilda Rice

"When you’re unable to heat your home, that creates damp, cold conditions. That leads to bad health and in some cases early death."

Matilda Rice is a social influencer and TV host based in Auckland.

Watch Matilda's video on energy poverty.

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Justin Lester

"1 in 5 kiwi households can't afford to pay their power bill every month. I don't want to live in a city where people are making those kinds of decisions."

Justin Lester is Mayor of Wellington City, and has held the position since October 2016.

Watch Justin's video on energy poverty.

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Mark Hadlow

"Get behind Flick and help them put an end to energy poverty in New Zealand."

Mark Hadlow is a celebrated actor and comedian, best known for his roles in King Kong and The Hobbit. Hadlow was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit earlier this year, for services to the arts.

Watch Mark's video on energy poverty.

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There's no such thing as a silly question

Questions? We've got answers

Questions about energy poverty

What is the definition of ‘Energy Poverty’?

The technical definition of a household suffering energy poverty is when they need to spend 10% or more of their income on fuel to keep the house temperature at a healthy level. But it’s generally accepted that a household is energy poor if they need to spend an excessive amount of their income on heating.

The World Health Organisation says that the healthy temperature for a home is 21 degrees in the main living area and 18 degrees in the rest of the house. If people are home all day, heating needs to be available for 16 hours per day; and in households where people are mainly away at study or work during the day, that heating should be available for 9 hours per day.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

How do we know that ‘Energy Poverty’ is a problem in New Zealand?

A University of Otago study found that one in five New Zealanders have experienced fuel poverty.

Their research looked at both the technical definition of Fuel Poverty (above), and asked “Have you ever gone without heating/power because you felt unable to afford it?”.

We see the impact of Fuel Poverty in a range of health and wellbeing statistics too.

According to University of Otago research, energy poverty is thought to be a factor in New Zealand’s high rate of excess winter mortality (an additional 1,600 deaths a year) and excess winter hospitalisations (8% of all hospitalisations).

Over the past year more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital with respiratory issues. Respiratory disease has a strong correlation with unhealthy homes.

And according to the International Energy Agency, New Zealand has the lowest space heating intensity in the developed world. Most kiwis will be familiar with how badly insulated our houses are!

Sources: Statistics New Zealand, University of Otago, Child Poverty Action Group

Isn’t ‘Energy Poverty’ just ‘Poverty’?

Households with low incomes are more likely to suffer from energy poverty. But the definition is separate because energy poverty relates specifically to not being able to afford the fuel needed to adequately warm a home.

How do energy efficient lightbulbs help?

Energy Poverty is complex - low wages, poor quality housing, and the cost of energy all contribute.

There are a number of ways that households can reduce their electricity costs so they can better afford the energy they need to be warm.

Energy efficient lightbulbs can slash 80% of a household’s lighting costs - around $400 per year, or 20% of the average household’s total electricity cost!

LED bulbs also have an estimated 10 year life so the savings really add up over time.

But the upfront cost of energy efficient lightbulbs is prohibitive for most families suffering energy poverty. That’s why we started this initiative - to meet those upfront costs so families in need can start enjoying the savings this great technology enables.

Sources: EnergyWise, Consumer NZ

How have you calculated the potential savings from changing lightbulbs?

We used the EECA calculator for standard lightbulbs, and replaced it with a comparable LED bulb. According to Consumer NZ, a standard household has an average 30 bulbs - which means that replacing a house fitted with 60w/800 lumen standard bulbs with an LED equivalent makes the savings over $400 a year. Obviously this will vary house to house - some have more bulbs, some have less - but our goal is to fit enough NZ households with enough bulbs so that over 10 years (an average lifespan of an LED bulb) they save collectively $1,000,000.

What else can households do to reduce their energy costs?

Changing power companies is a great place to start. Only 30% of New Zealanders change power companies every few years, but if you shop around you can often get a much better deal than you’re currently on.

Have a read of our blog Top Five Ways To Save On Power, and there are a range of local services that offer home energy audits to help you understand where you can make improvements at home. A few of these are:

Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau - Kaitaia

EcoMatters - Auckland

GreenStar Energy Solutions - Auckland

Waikato Environment Centre - Hamilton

Sustainability Options - Tauranga

WISE Better Homes Trust - Rotorua/New Plymouth

Community Housing Aotearoa - Wellington

Sustainability Trust - Wellington

Community Energy Action - Christchurch

Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust

Awarua Synergy

Curtains are critical for keeping heat in the home. If you cannot afford curtains, there are curtain banks operating in all the main centres and many towns. You can try:

West Auckland Curtain Bank
09 818 0788

South Auckland Curtain Bank
0800 789 276

Rotorua Curtain Bank

Wellington Curtain Bank
0508 78 78 24 ext 705

Christchurch Curtain Bank
03 374 7222 or 0800 438 9276

Dunedin Curtain Bank
03 425 9678

There are more great tips about making your home more energy efficient on the EECA website.

As a power company, if you really care, why don’t you just make electricity cheaper?

We have! On average, Flick customers haved saved $495 over two years (December 2018) compared to their old retailer. Our technology doesn’t cost people anything to access, and lets them use power smarter to save money.

Until Flick launched, the only way to save money on your power bill was to use less electricity. This is a terrible message to people who are already going without as a way to try and reduce their power bills.

With Flick, you can use the electricity you need to live well, but pay less for it by using it at cheaper times of day. Our smart tools make this easy.

What's a shulb?

"1 share = 1 bulb", or as Jordan Watson, AKA How to Dad likes to call it, "a shulb".

When you share Jordan's video highlighting the issue of energy poverty in Aotearoa, you'll help raise awareness about this relatively unknown but very real issue.

Give the video a watch; it'll all come to light.