Fourth Trimester: Contact Energy to give two million hours of free power to families with newborns

Starting or growing a family is both rewarding and challenging but in a time of tightening belts across the country, many Kiwis are struggling with the cost of living - even before the added financial pressure of a newborn. 

So Contact Energy is stepping up with its 'Fourth Trimester' initiative, giving 1,000 New Zealand families with babies born from 1 February 2023, three months of free energy - totalling two million free hours of power. 

"Waiving energy bills in the first three months makes things a little easier financially, especially as families often move to a single income," says Contact CEO Mike Fuge.  

"It also removes any hesitation about keeping the home warm or using the washing machine or clothes dryer because, let's face it, babies create a lot of washing!"

Research by Contact Energy found 91 percent of parents noticed an increase in their power bill after having a child, while nearly half say the increase was significant. For almost a third, power bills increased by at least 20 percent after having children.

And the costs go beyond a bigger bill, for the average household, raising a baby in New Zealand can cost $9,100 a year or more -  making finances one extra plate to spin during the whirlwind of raising a baby. 

And those costs keep climbing. Statistics New Zealand data, released on Wednesday, show the annual consumer price index (CPI) increased 7.2 percent in the 12 months to December 2022 - near a 32-year high. 

Much of the increase is being driven by food costs, Stats NZ data shows annual food price  increases reached a whopping 14-year high in late 2022, surging 8.3 percent. The cost is particularly noticeable in soaring fruit and veggie prices, meaning tough calls at the checkout - particularly for new parents wanting the best kai for their kids.

And New Zealanders are making cuts to make room for that extra spending. Contact's survey found 81 percent of parents used power-hungry appliances like the washer and dryer less to save money on their power bill. 

Not being able to efficiently wash up adds extra strain on what can already be a challenging time for parents. Fuge says he hopes the free hours of power give Kiwis breathing room to focus on what's most important. 

"We hope that this gesture to help our newest New Zealanders get off to a good start will give families a small reprieve from financial stress and allow more quality time with their growing whanau." 

But of course, plenty of New Zealanders are doing it tough even without new additions to the family. Luckily there are some quick wins when it comes to power that can help cut costs. Hot water heating, on average, accounts for 30 percent of your power bill, so small changes can make a real difference.

"Practical things like shorter showers or using electricity off peak are not only good for the environment but have an impact on your bill," advises Mike. 

And for those with doubts about signing up to the initiative, you aren't locked into a contract so there is no pressure to remain with Contact following the 'Fourth Trimester'.

"There is no obligation to stay; customers that participate in the programme are free to leave after three months. This is just our way of helping out New Zealand families when they need it most," says Mike.   

Parents with newborns born from February 1st can apply for the Fourth Trimester offer here. To learn more about the initiative or Contact Energy, head over to their website.

The initiative is available for up to 1,000 families. See website for eligibility criteria. 

Article created in partnership with Contact Energy.