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Did You Know You Can Shop For Your Electricity?

March 31, 2011

There appears to be a shopping theme this week in our blogs so, today,  let’s discuss how shopping for electricity can save you $100 a year or more. You know how we are all about helping you save money here at Gunwel. Residents of 14 states and Washington, DC, have the  right to buy electricity from a supplier other than their local utility, and that could save them some money. But you must ask the right questions to make sure that you are getting the best deal, including sign-up bonuses and/or monthly frequent-flier program points in some cases. The deregulated states are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.

Customers continue to pay the local utility to deliver power, but they can opt to pay a different company to generate power and put it onto the power grid on their behalf. This alternative power supplier might be a utility in a different region or, more often, a company that buys power wholesale, then resells it. Customers receive exactly the same electricity as before, no matter which supplier they choose. Example: If you opt to buy power from a “green” supplier, a solar, wind or hydroelectric facility (they) will add power to the grid – but the current that actually flows through your home will not necessarily be produced that way. Customers still call the local utility if a tree knocks out power lines, and they often still qualify for any energy-efficiency discounts and rebates, such as those you might get for buying an energy-efficient appliance. In some states, they simply continue to pay their local utility, and this utility sends a portion of the payment to the alternative electricity supplier.

If you live in a deregulated state, go to the Web sites of your state’s Public Utility Commission (www.naruc.org/commissions.cfm) and Utility Consumer Advocate (www.nasuca.org). Licensed alternative electricity suppliers likely will be listed. Ads and independent Web sites, such as SAveOnEnergy.net and LowerElectricBillToday.com, also might point you to options. Contact alternative electricity suppliers directly to confirm their current prices per kilowatt-hour (kWh) before signing up. Compare their prices with the price per kWh you now are paying, which should be listed n your most recent electricity bill.

  •  Also ask how often can this rate change? Some rates are fixed up to a year, but others vary a month to month.
  • Is there a cancellation fee? Some suppliers charge fees to customers who don’t stay for a preset period.
  • Are there any other fees, charges, or minimum monthly purchase amounts? An example is that some suppliers charge a sign-up fee or a fee for paying by paper check rather than online.
  • Is there a sign-up bonus? Some suppliers offer cash or gifts to induce new customers to join, but don’t over-value these bonuses.

What is interesting is that I don’t even see our electric bill. We are enrolled in an auto pay each month and the dollar amount comes out of our account without even seeing a bill; we can go online to view and print the bill.  Trying to be a “green-conscious-consumer” requires a bit of work. But it does and can save us money. Let us know your thoughts on how you try to save money. Is your electric bill too high? Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. We are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday’s 8am to 5pm. See you soon!

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