Many households in New Zealand houses use electrical heating, but over the past decade residential electricity has become increasingly unaffordable.

This study interviewed households in the Wellington region where prepayment meters were used or where residents were struggling to pay for electricity. It examined the decisions householders made about how to pay for their electricity, and explored their attempts to control their energy budgets. The study assessed participants understanding of electricity use (before and after using a cost-plug), their actual use of electricity, and warmth in the houses. This study increases understanding of electricity demand and consumer feedback mechanisms.