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With the prices of nearly everything rising, it is important for consumers to find the best utility rates available. Though many utility companies offer websites to allow for rate comparisons, there are a few things that every consumer can do to make sure that they are receiving the best possible long-term electricity prices.
Finding a Provider
The first step in saving money on utility bills is finding the best rates available. Many companies have websites that allow potential customers to compare their current rates with rates offered by that company. Some companies may even guarantee rates for a specific amount of time, thereby reducing the amount of time consumers spend searching for the best rates and switching providers. Before changing providers, however, it is important to check if the current provider charges a cancellation fee to terminate a contract.
Another important way to enjoy long-term cheap utility rates is to make honest efforts to conserve energy throughout the home. Simple steps like turning out lights when leaving a room, turning down the thermostat, and properly sealing windows and doors make huge differences in monthly energy prices.
There are a number of things that consumers can do to save money on utility bills. Among these, installing a smart meter is one of the most efficient. These meters do more than simply measure usage. They record information and send it to your supplier for bill processing. Your usage information is then organized in a simple-to-understand fashion in your online account.
If a consumer is able to view how much energy they are using on a daily basis, and which appliances are responsible for the majority of their usage, they are more apt to conserve energy in the correct way and reduce their costs. Smart meters are 100 percent accurate in gauging usage; this drastically reduces human error and ensures accurate billing month after month.
Energy usage is something that can be monitored and controlled to reduce associated costs and environmental impact. Finding a good supplier, performing small home improvement tasks, and installing a smart meter are all sure ways to make sure you are not paying more than necessary for your electricity.
How about you all? How much do you currently pay per month in electricity? Is it more or less than what you would term as your “tolerance limit?”
What steps do you actively take each month to save money on electricity? Have you tried any of the steps shared above?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.
- Posts discussing methods to reduce electricity or utility bills are always very interesting. I think this stems from the fact that almost everyone does have to pay these types of bills in one form or another, so everyone can relate and share their thoughts.
- I also like posts such as the one above that discuss how the electricity “system” works in other countries (this one applies to the UK especially).
- My personal spending on electricity bills for my 781 sq. ft. two-bedroom condo (built in 1966 with a probably 30 year old A/C unit) over the past 5 months is shown below:
- September 2011 – $67
- August 2011 – $97
- July 2011 – $74
- June 2011 – $54
- May 2011 – $40
- As you can clearly see by these numbers, there is a sharp peak in the electricity usage during the hottest month of the year here in Virginia (August), with the totals decreasing on either side of this month. Quite interesting stuff!
- @ Finding or switching electricity suppliers in the US vs. the UK –
- One thing that is quite different here in the US compared to the UK (as is described by this post) is that an energy supplier in a certain area has a “necessary monopoly.” This means that this supplier will most likely be the sole source of electricity for a particular town/city/area.
- Because of this “necessary monopoly,” it is actually difficult/impossible to do any price bargaining with a supplier or threaten to switch to a competitor. This is simply because there are no competitors (unfortunately).
- Maybe, one day, this will change. But, this is the reality we’re stuck with right now.
- @ Home improvements to reduce electricity costs and usage –
- First, I must admit that I do not always have the best habits when it comes to saving money by reducing my energy consumption.
- What I mean by this is that while I do the best I can to reduce my environmental impact, I refuse to have to work at my home in the 80 degree F heat during the summer. Instead, I have no shame in turning on the A/C to a comfortable temperature, at least while I am home.
- Having mentioned that I am by no means perfect, listed below are the things that I do do in order to save money on electricity usage:
- Have opaque curtains that stay closed during the day-time to block UV light and heat.
- Turn off the A/C or heat while I am gone at work during the day or out of town for the weekend.
- Turn off electronic appliances (stereos, VCR (do people besides me even have these these days?! haha), DVD players, TV’s, etc) when they are not in use.
- As I mentioned above, my A/C blower unit is MANY years old. In fact, I think that the home inspector for my condo mentioned to me that it was close to 30 years old. As such, I believe that it is not nearly as efficient as a newer unit. Therefore, replacing this will be on my radar if I stay in the condo for more than 5 years.
- For more sustainable living tips, I would recommend visiting Sustainable Personal Finance. They’re the real pros at this stuff!
- @ Replacing your energy meter with a “smart” one
- This is actually a great idea! I would love to have something I could analyze online that showed a breakdown of my energy use by appliance and/or room in my house.
- However, my initial guess is that again, due to the way in which the electricity infrastructure is set up in the US, the energy companies would not allow you to change the meter from the one that they provide for reading the electricity from your house, since it is technically their property anyway.
- This is just my gut feeling. If someone knows more about this issue, please let me know or comment below to share. I’ve made a note to look in to this in more detail in a future post!
- Reading about the sorts of information that these “smart” meters provide sparked my curiosity to see what types of information my current energy supplier/meter (Dominion) provide me in my online account interface.
- What I found that was provided in the online interface is shown below:
- Monthly and daily overall usage in kilo-Watt-hours. A graph is also provided that enables me to compare my current month’s energy usage with previous years.
- Dominion also has a tool in their online system that claims that you’re able to “analyze your energy usage.” However, this tool was not working when I just logged in to check it, so I’ll have to check back at a later date to see what it offers.
- And, that’s about it…So, there was really nothing on the site (at the current time) that told me anything super-beneficial for how to better save energy.
- In addition, Dominion did offer several “green” energy programs. One was a Smart Cooling Rewards program, where you allow Dominion to cycle on and off your A/C during the hottest summer months to help them meet the energy demands. In exchange for this, they’ll give you $40 per summer. Some other cool programs they have are offering free in-home energy reduction assessments to low-income families and providing discounts at select retailers for customers buying energy-efficient light fixtures.
- Unfortunately, none of these programs facilitate the analysis of my current energy usage, but every initiative helps!
***Photo courtesy of http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3655/3338776771_22e2442958.jpg