Shopping smart for electricity means more than just finding the cheapest rates. When you’re looking for a new energy provider, it’s important to consider the factors that will actually affect your monthly bill.
Here are several things to keep in mind when you’re choosing an energy provider:
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1. Know How Much Energy You Use
Before you can shop for the best electricity rates, you need to know how much energy you actually use. The amount of electricity you use each month is called your “electricity usage.”
To find your monthly usage, look at your most recent electricity bill. Your usage will be listed in kilowatt-hours (kWh). If you don’t have a recent bill handy, you can also find your usage on your energy provider’s website or mobile app.
2. Obtain a List of Suppliers
The next step is to obtain a list of electricity suppliers that serve your area. In deregulated markets, there are multiple electricity providers from which to choose.
You can find a list of suppliers on your state’s Public Utility Commission website. For example, the Illinois Commerce Commission provides a list of all the electricity suppliers that serve Illinois.
3. Ask Questions
Contact the suppliers on your list and ask them questions about their rates, plans, and other offerings. It’s important to get as much information as possible so that you can make an informed decision about which electricity provider is right for you. For example:
- The price is fixed or fluctuate month to month?
- How long is the contract?
- Are there any early termination fees?
- What is customer service like?
- Will the contract automatically renew?
4. Compare Electricity Rates
Once you have a list of suppliers, you can start comparing electricity rates. Be sure to compare the “price to compare” – this is the rate you’ll actually be paying for electricity.
The price to compare includes the energy charges as well as any other fees or charges that may apply. These can include delivery charges, early termination fees, and other fees.
It’s also important to look at the length of the electricity contract. Some suppliers offer short-term deals that may be cheaper in the short run, but could end up costing more in the long run if energy prices go up.
Other suppliers offer longer-term contracts that may be more expensive upfront but could save you money in the long run if energy prices go down.
5. Look for Reputable Customer Service
It’s also important to look for a supplier with good customer service. You may have questions or problems with your electricity service at some point, so it’s important to have a supplier that you can contact easily.
You can read reviews of electricity suppliers to get an idea of their customer service. You can also contact the supplier directly to ask questions about their customer service.
6. Choose the Right Electricity Plan for You
Once you’ve compared electricity rates and selected a supplier, it’s time to choose the right electricity plan for your needs. There are many different types of electricity plans, and it’s important to select the one that’s right for you.
For example, if you use a lot of electricity during peak hours, you may want to choose a plan with higher energy rates during those hours. Or, if you have appliances that use a lot of electricity, you may want to choose a plan with a higher “demand charge.”
7. Read the Fine Print
Before you sign up for an electricity plan, be sure to read the fine print. Electricity plans come with many different terms and conditions, and it’s important to understand all of them before you agree to anything.
For example, some electricity plans have cancellation fees that may not be worth it if you only plan on being in the contract for a short period of time. Others have minimum usage requirements that may not be realistic for your needs.
Be sure to read all the terms and conditions of the electricity plan before you sign up, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.