It should come as no surprise that a website dedicated to consumer energy matters recommends that you shop for electricity rates. We have posted on topics ranging from renewable energy to home energy conservation tips. There have also been a number of posts regarding the various types of residential electricity plans.
From our experience, most residential customers enroll in fixed price products for 12-month terms. Some view their annual electricity shopping experience as a chore. However, how many chores give you the opportunity to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket? The whole point of deregulation is to allow you to get a competitive rate combined with services and features that are important to you. Here is a look at some of the top reasons to switch electricity companies.
Confusing Electricity Rates
You are a savvy shopper and picked the lowest electricity rate with a company that appeared to the be reputable. Over the term of the agreement, however, your monthly bill was not nearly as low as you hoped. There are many reasons this could happen. First, the rate might have been only an introductory rate. This is usually the case with month-to-month plans or fixed price offers with short terms like 3 or 4 months. The idea is that you will be asleep at the wheel and not notice the price creeping up over time.
Second, you might have been pulled in by the lure of an offer promising an unbelievably low electricity rate. Some of these offers only honor the low rate if your monthly usage falls within a very narrow usage bandwidth. If you select an offer with this type of provision, make sure your typical monthly usage matches the specified bandwidth. Be sure to read the Electricity Facts Label and avoid offers that seem too gimmicky.
Poor Customer Service
We have all experienced poor customer service at some time in our life. Regardless of the reason, the best way to make your voice heard is to vote with your feet. In markets open to customer choice, this means changing electricity companies. Customers enrolled in a fixed price plan need to be careful not to switch too early or they will be assessed an early termination charge. The best approach is to channel your energy into doing some research on new electricity companies and making a short list for when your contract is up.
Bundled Energy Services
Shopping for electricity plans is not always about the price tag. Some consumers shop by price alone while others are more focused on value-added services. Fortunately, electricity companies offer plans for both types of consumer and everyone in between.
You can bundle everything from home and appliance warranties to smart thermostats with your electricity service. The best bundled services offers are often restricted to new customers. Therefore, be sure to consider these types of plans when shopping for low electricity rates.
Changing Energy Needs
Your electricity plan should match both your lifestyle and your budget. Like most of consumers, your energy needs change over time. Perhaps your usage is significantly higher or lower than it once was. Maybe you travel during the week and need an electricity plan tailored to weekend usage. Could a move to a new house or apartment be on the horizon?
Whatever the reason, you should never let your electricity rate be on autopilot. Switching electricity companies provides you access to the latest and most innovative offers. You can consider time-of-use rates that feature free or discounted nights and weekends. Prepaid electricity plans give you the ultimate flexibility if you are contemplating a move. Have you been bitten by the green bug? You can select a renewable energy plan backed by wind or solar generation. The bottom line is that you may not see what is available if you simply renew with your current electricity company.
If your last experience with a competitive energy supplier was less than satisfying, do not get discouraged. Shopping is the only answer for finding a better deal and managing your home electricity bill. In any event, we do not recommend staying with an electricity company beyond the term of your initial agreement. Default or post-term pricing is too risky. In addition, you will find that the best offers go to new customers. Switching electricity companies on an annual basis is a good strategy for both price and value shoppers.