We all look forward to the onset of warmer weather, but for a segment of the nation the change brings a sense of relief at the prospect of lower energy bills and an alleviation of dampness in their home.

Energy prices are continuing to rise, causing a larger number of households across the nation to fall into energy hardship. Measures defining this experience include a difficulty or inability to pay power bills on time, households finding their homes damp, mouldy or too cold, or being unable to afford heating at all.

In the year ended June 2022, 6 percent of households (some 110,000 people) reported they could not afford to keep their homes adequately warm. Living in a cold, damp home through winter has flow-on effects, contributing to unhealthy living conditions and increasing the risk of respiratory illness.

Older adults, people living with disabilities and young children are most likely to be impacted by these difficulties - as the most vulnerable members of society that tend to have higher energy requirements than other demographics.

Pulse Energy, a 100 percent community-owned energy company with a strong community focus, is invested in making a difference for those impacted by these difficulties with its Pay it Forward Programme.

The Pay it Forward programme identifies customers impacted by energy hardship and provides them with temporary financial relief. It also empowers recipients to foster and maintain energy wellbeing - a state defined by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as being "when individuals, households and whānau are able to obtain adequate energy services to support their wellbeing in their home or kāinga".


As the name suggests, the award-winning Pay it Forward programme - which was prompted by the arrival of Covid-19 - leans on the generosity and goodwill of Pulse Energy customers, who can choose to add a donation of their choice to their energy bill each month. This sum is then matched dollar for dollar by Pulse Energy, added to the programme fund and passed on to those customers that need it most.

An individual donation may seem insignificant on its own, but when multiplied by the thousands of participating customers it becomes part of a substantial and reliable source of assistance for those struggling to keep their lights on and their homes warm.

No cost is involved for recipients and support is provided on a nearly no-strings attached basis. The one condition is that recipients are open to payment options or being referred to budget support services by Pulse.

In the programme's first operational year, in 2021, Pulse customers collectively contributed $80,682 towards the programme and supported 1,552 households across New Zealand. As of September 2023, more than 2,300 customers are contributing between $2 and $50 each month.

Now heading into its third year running the initiative, Pulse Energy is looking to expand its impact and engagement in the community. The company supports initiatives run by communities for communities throughout the country, such as the Buller Gorge Marathon and the Lend a Hand Foundation.

This focus on wellbeing in the community has long been a part of Pulse's identity - the company sponsors the Highlanders and Crusaders Super Rugby teams and is a Gold Sponsor of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.

All of this contributes to Pulse's messaging, that even during challenging times, our society can remain compassionate and caring with empathy for those around us. In the lead up to Christmas and the season of giving, this is one practical way that Kiwis can support each other and lend a helping hand. The Pay it Forward programme is a way to offer long term support of others that's not so hard on their wallets.

Learn more about Pulse's Pay it Forward programme and how you can get involved, here.

Article republished from Stuff.


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