Many consumers are under the impression that the world of energy is a great mystery and they have no control over their energy bill; leaving them feeling frustrated and helpless.
In the case of small business owners, this can be even more daunting when trying to determine an annual budget or trying to cut down on consumption without cutting back production. In truth, there are many ways to take control of your energy use and save money. It all starts with education. Once you understand how to use energy and what you’re being billed for, you’ll have solved the great energy bill mystery.
Below are some of the most common misconceptions, regarding taking control of your energy:
1- “I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER MY UTILITY BILL OR PROVIDER!”
Let’s start with one simple concept: You have a choice!
In a growing number of states across the country, competition in the energy market is encouraged. Traditionally, electric and natural gas consumers did not have a choice as to who supplied their energy; the utility that served the region in which the consumer resided served everyone within that territory. Today, however, energy choice programs allow eligible customers to shop around and choose an electric/natural gas supplier that best suits their needs. That supplier may be a utility company, or one of the many suppliers licensed to market in the consumer’s area.
The utility company is still responsible for maintaining and repairing the infrastructure, delivering electricity and natural gas to consumers, and ensuring reliability. A competitive energy supplier on the other hand is a company that sells the energy that the utility delivers. Competitive energy suppliers compete in an open marketplace by offering a variety of services and incentives, and consumers can choose those that best meet their energy needs.
Check out this page on the ACCES website to consider your options and rights as a consumer prior to selecting a competitive energy supplier.
2 – “I CAN’T REDUCE MY ENERGY CONSUMPTION”
Ask your competitive energy supplier about taking advantage of value-added products and services in order to keep costs down.
The right energy partner can act as your energy advisor by educating you about energy consumption and how you can take advantage of and implement cost-saving products and services that include the following:
- Fixed Rate Plans
Research and ask about fixed rate plans that 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.
- Energy Efficiency Audits & Repairs
Request an energy efficiency audit. Auditors can examine your property for inefficient appliances, insufficient insulation, cracks or gaps that allow energy leakage, and other problems. The auditor can make recommendations on products and services that can improve your home’s or business’s energy usage, potentially reducing your monthly bill.
- Variable Rate Plans
Consider whether a variable plan suits your energy needs. 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.
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Services
Ask your suppliers about 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.
- Renewable or “Green” Options
Look into 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).
3- “AS A BUSINESS OWNER, I DON’T HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE TO MAKE THE RIGHT ENERGY DECISIONS.
When working with the right energy partner, the supplier will assess your specific energy needs and provide you with a cost-effective solution that is right for your business: offering a 360 degree approach–assess, recommend, monitor, review–creates a more accurate understanding of a business’ situation, risks and opportunities
Your energy advisor will take a consultative approach in order to help tailor the best plan to meet your company’s needs. There is no one size fits all. As always, it’s a matter of your individual needs and preferences.
To obtain more information about energy choice in your state view the ACCES State-by State map: http://competitiveenergy.org/consumer-tools/state-by-state-links/
It’s important for businesses to take control of their energy consumption.
You have choices in many important areas of your life – from where you buy your groceries, what type of car you drive, where you purchase your gasoline, and what cell phone and carrier your use. Similarly, you can choose who supplies the energy that powers, heats, and cools your business.
In order to make an educated decision when choosing your energy supplier it’s best to work with an energy partner or advisor who cares about your business and shares its knowledge and experience with you.
This article was developed from content provided by ACCES member Great Eastern Energy.