Many of you may be aware that you can save money on energy costs (electricity and natural gas) by choosing your own energy supplier. I’ve known it for a while, but frankly, I didn’t want to break a sweat poring over old utility bills and websites to save what might amount to only a few dollars.
Well, I broke down and committed to the “energy savings project” last fall. Actually, I’d taken baby steps toward the project the previous year, taking advantage of a federal energy credit to have my place professionally insulated after having a home energy audit. So looking into switching energy suppliers was about all I could do besides rant about turning off the lights and closing the windows while the air is running.
Nine months later, I’ll call my little project a success. Last October I was paying 7.7 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity via ComEd, when I signed up with an alternative supplier for 6.3 cents per kWh for 12 months. The gamble I was making was that electricity prices wouldn’t go much lower than that for a year. If I want to bail before then, it’ll cost me $10 for each remaining month of my contract.
ComEd’s prices did come down, as did my current supplier’s prices, but I still came out ahead. By the time ComEd cut its rates, I’d been enjoying my savings for six months. I don’t know when my current supplier lowered its price to 5.9 cents, but I can live with making the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. I might sign up for a six-month contract the next time around.
I used the Illinois Commerce Commission’s site ( pluginillinois.org) to compare suppliers, but power2switch.com is much more user-friendly. I’d Google energy deregulation and my state to find similar rate comparison sites elsewhere.
You do need to dig up those old bills to see whether or not you’re really saving anything, though. I’ve started looking around for an alternate natural gas supplier, and the contracts one was offering were about 10 cents more per therm than what I’ve been paying.