Finding energy for your home often means comparing rates from several different utility companies. Most companies try to entice new customers with lower rates, but you have to consider whether these rates will last all year or jump to a ridiculously high rate after a month. There are several ways to find the best energy rate and pick the right company for your energy needs.
Most energy companies create introductory offer campaigns to bring in new customers. These rates may be extremely low at first compared to other energy providers, but they may increase over time or even have an unpredictable increase after a year. The key things to look for include longer introductory offers and rate protection plans. This means that the introductory offer may last from 6 to 24 months, and the company will provide a protection plan to ensure that you get to keep your low rate for the entire period. You should always read the fine print when agreeing to one of these deals.
Locked In Rates
Some companies offer a lower-than-average energy rate that you have to sign an agreement to lock in. The agreement usually stipulates that you won’t discontinue services for a period of time, and if you do, you must pay a fee to cancel. The lock-in rates are usually only available for 1 and 2 year agreements. You typically save anywhere between 1 and 2 cents on energy consumption with these types of plans. They should also include a rate protection clause.
Amenities and Customer Service
A low rate might seem like a good deal, but are you able to pay your bills online? Does the company charge fees for paying with debit cards or bank accounts? These are some other factors to consider when figuring out the yearly cost of your energy rates. If you aren’t able to conveniently pay your bill on time, there may also be late fees and penalties.
Security Deposit, Late Fees and Penalties
Some energy companies have a lot of extra fees that they don’t explicitly state on their advertisements for low rates. The best way to figure out what these would cost is to call their customer service before signing up for any plan. You should ask whether they require a deposit and how much that costs as well as what the late fees and penalties are. In addition, they should be able to tell you what period of payment is considered late, and what are the penalties if you go beyond that period. For example, how long will it take them to turn off your electricity if it isn’t paid on time, and what is the fee and turnaround time to get your power back?
Solar Power and Renewable Energy
Some electicity companies actually sell solar power and renewable energy. Sometimes these are higher priced energy rates, but you are supporting an eco-friendly energy resource.
Month-to-Month to Three Plans
Typically, a month-to-month plan is much harder to predict and also has higher rates. While you may start off with a lower rate, it may increase over time depending on the agreement. With a locked-in agreement that spans 2 to 3 years, your rate may initially be higher but save you money in the long run if rates are on the rise for your area.