- Update your address with service providers.
- If you have kids, contact the local school system.
- Get utility services up and running.
- Choose an energy supplier.
Moving can be exciting: making a fresh start in a new home and a new town—sometimes a new state. Settling in somewhere new means learning new things, and if you’ve never had the chance to choose an energy supplier before—or even if you have—moving to a state that offers energy choice presents a great opportunity to learn about energy suppliers and choose one that’s right for you.
If your new state offers energy choice, then energy supply is considered separate from delivery. So while your local utility is solely responsible for delivering energy to your home through the poles, pipes and wires, it isn’t the only option for supply. Here’s where your freedom to choose comes in: Just as you’ll choose your new doctor, dentist, and perhaps even a school, you can also choose your energy supplier. And don’t worry—even if your supplier is not your utility company, you’ll still only get one bill in the mail, and that will be from your utility company. The arrangement you’ve made with the supplier will be reflected in your utility bill.
After moving in it’s likely you’ll be inundated with offers from a variety of electricity suppliers, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Some homeowners are particularly interested in green power; many suppliers offer varying degrees of electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power or hydropower. Other consumers select suppliers based on price, contract term or other features. Energy choice created competition among suppliers, and a competitive pricing structure along with it.
As with anything, the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. Before partnering up with any energy supplier, here are some things to consider:
- Compare prices. Your local utility company publishes the “price to compare,” which you can use as a benchmark for comparison shopping. Based on the state, this rate may change every few months but should always be readily accessible. Suppliers are required to provide the average price per kilowatt-hour that they intend to offer customers.
- Consider environmental factors. Suppliers are also required to explain to customers the environmental characteristics of the electricity they sell, i.e. the fuel sources that are used to generate electricity. While some people prefer to purchase 100% renewable energy, most homeowners, in general, get the standard mix of fuels as designated by their state. This information can help you understand the environmental impact of generating electricity, and keep you informed about where your money is going.
- Compare customer service. A great way to determine the quality of a company’s customer service is to speak with someone there to get more information about its program: Did they make it easy to get in touch? Were they informative and knowledgeable? Beyond that, check the supplier’s website to make sure it provides avenues for easy communication. Is there a simple method for resolving disputes? Keep in mind, though, that outage reporting is not the responsibility of the supplier; you’ll need to call your utility company in the case of power outages or other emergencies.
- Choose the supplier that works best for you. Details like contract length, cancellation procedures/penalties and variable or fixed pricing structure might be the determining factor once you’ve narrowed down your choices. Some suppliers offer variable prices that change with market conditions; others give the option to “lock in” a fixed price for a period of time. Incentives might also be offered, like tools to help you manage your energy use or bonus checks for signing up, but be wary of these—the cost to cover these perks may be hidden somewhere else.
Of course, if you don’t choose an energy supplier of your own, your local utility company will be the default energy provider. No matter which supplier you choose, it’s important to remember that, the option for better service will always be available—that’s the power of choice.
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