There are many reasons and benefits to selecting a competitive natural gas and electricity supplier. This page describes some of the most common options. You can also visit the state-by-state links to see which states offer natural gas and electricity choice, and to find the “shopping” sites for each state.
Energy Efficiency Audits & Repairs
Some suppliers offer home and business energy efficiency audits. Auditors will examine your property for inefficient appliances, insufficient insulation, cracks or gaps that allow energy leakage, and other problems. The auditor will make recommendations on products and services that can improve your home’s or business’s energy usage, potentially reducing your monthly bill.
Fixed Rate Plans
Some suppliers offer fixed rate plans, in which customers are guaranteed a set price for a given period of time. This can vary from a plan that offers an introductory fixed rate for several months before moving to a variable rate, or plans that are fully fixed for a year or more. Fixed rate plans provide certainty and protection against higher prices, but also mean that if market prices for energy go down, you could pay a higher rate than other consumers. As always, it’s a matter of your individual needs and preferences.
Variable Rate Plans
If you select a variable rate, the rate may change with market conditions. So if market prices increase, your rate may increase. If market prices drop, your rate may decrease. If you’re following energy market prices and adjust the use of your energy accordingly, you can potentially save money. Variable contracts generally do not have an early cancellation fee, but make sure to ask your supplier.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Services
Some suppliers include warranty products and equipment repair services for your HVAC systems when you purchase energy from them. This can range from part replacement to full 24-hour emergency service.
Some suppliers offer different incentives for switching, ranging from donations to alumni organizations to airline frequent flyer miles.
Some suppliers offer renewable energy products, specifically for electricity, which range from partially to 100% renewable. Renewable energy is produced from resources that are restored or maintained through natural processes, like wind (wind power), sunshine (solar power), water (hydro power) and specialty crops (biomass power). Electricity is traditionally produced from resources that are finite: oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium (nuclear power).
If you choose to purchase a renewable energy product from a competitive supplier, remember that there is no need to install any equipment or make any other physical changes to your property. Because of the physical properties of electricity, there is no way to know if the electricity delivered to your home is the exact same electricity that was produced from a renewable source; what happens instead is that the renewable energy generator delivers the electricity to the grid on your behalf – electricity that would have otherwise had to been produced by a coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant. The net effect of increasing renewable energy is the same as if there was a direct transmission line between the renewable energy source and your home.