Electricity and gas bills are necessary expenses for most households. But what if you feel like your bills keep increasing, and you’re looking for ways to cut costs? In many cases, more than one company provides services in your community. Switching your utility provider may be one of your best money-saving options to explore.
Do Your Research
The first step in switching your utility provider is to do your research to find out which providers are available in your area. You can start by checking with your state’s public utilities commission or visiting the Department of Energy website.
- Rates: Compare different providers’ rates to see which offers the best value for your money. Some companies may offer fixed rates or pre-paid plans.
- Fees: Some providers may charge fees for setting up service or for early termination of your contract.
- Contract terms: If you are signing a contract with a new provider, read the terms carefully to understand when the contract ends, if there are any penalties for early termination, and if there are any automatic renewals.
- Customer service: Read reviews to learn what customers think about the service they receive, including response times, helpfulness, available support options such as online chat, and common complaints. While one or two negative reviews may not be a cause for concern, if there are many negative reviews, it may be a sign that the provider has poor customer service.
- Availability: Check to see if the provider has customer service representatives available when you need them, such as on evenings and weekends.
- Communication: Look for a provider that communicates clearly and effectively with customers, providing regular updates about service interruptions, billing issues, or other important information.
- History and reputation: Check the provider’s history and reputation by researching their company background, years of operation, and ratings from independent organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- License and certification: Ensure the provider is licensed and certified to operate in your area and meets local regulatory requirements.
- Transparency: Look for a provider that provides clear and concise information about their rates, fees, and policies.
- Clean energy options: Check if the provider is committed to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint by offering clean energy options such as wind or solar power.
After considering these factors, you can determine if an electric company or utility provider is reputable and trustworthy.
Ready to Switch?
Once you have identified a provider you want to switch to, contact them to set up service. This may involve filling out an application and providing basic information, such as your name, address, and current account number. Read your current provider’s contract for any early termination fees. Figuring out the timeline for the switch may require communication with both service providers.
Energy Cost-Savings Tips
Whether you switch companies or not, reducing your energy output to decrease your bills is helpful. Here are some money-saving tips to reduce your heating and electric bills:
- Use a programmable thermostat. This can help you control your home’s temperature based on your schedule, such as lowering it when you are at work or asleep.
- Seal drafts. To prevent heat loss, check your home for drafts around doors and windows and seal them with weather stripping or caulk.
- Use or block natural light. During the day, open your curtains and blinds to let in natural light to warm up your home in the winter, and keep them closed to reduce heat in the summer.
- Use energy-efficient appliances. Switch to energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and light bulbs.
- Lower the temperature of your water heater. Turning down the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit can help you save money on your electric bill.
- Unplug electronics when not in use. Electronics that are plugged in but not in use can still consume electricity.
- Use fans. Ceiling fans and portable fans can help to circulate warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer, reducing your need for heating and cooling.
- Insulate your home. Adding insulation to your home can help to prevent heat loss and reduce your heating bill.
Following these tips can reduce heating and electric bills and help you save money in the long run. Remember to research if switching companies will help you save even more. You may find a better option or learn that you currently have the best choice.
Finances FYI is presented by JP Morgan.