Electric Providers

Author 07.17.15
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When you own a home or a business you want a reliable and affordable energy source. You might be looking to buy a new home with renewable energy sources or looking to switch to a better energyprovider with more options. When it's time to make the switch to a different electric provider you need to rethink your energy needs and how those needs are met. Today, many energy companies go beyond traditional resources to develop renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. Depending on where you live, there are many electric providers offering just the right power and money saving benefits for you.

Do I Have Energy Options?

First it's key to know the basics of how you get your electricity. When it comes to energy there are two things to consider: Where is my energy getting supplied from and how is it getting delivered? While a utility distribution company for a specific residential or business zone remains fixed, the supply of energy is a vast marketplace.

Thanks to the ""Power to Choose"" initiative, in certain regions, residential and business customers can shop for alternative energy options through an Energy Service Company (ESCO) or through the designated electric or gas utility. An ESCO works by installing energy conservation measures through an energy efficiency audit in order to demonstrate money saving benefits to residential or business customers. For example, some alternative power supply might come from an ESCO in the form of solar, hydro, wind or biomass resources, or simply through the installation of on-site energy saving tools. Nationwide, deregulation is allowing customers to learn how energy can be supplied by diverse and clean power resources at a fixed cost. Thanks to ESCOs, more companies and homeowners are tapping into green energy sources.

How to Find Local Providers

Locating electric providers in your area can be as simple as starting with your utility company. Once you know the gas or electric provider in your neighborhood, you can find out their costs and whether or not they offer alternative or green options, discounts, and how or if they work withlocal ESCOs. Some utility companies actually partner with approved ESCOs and will provide you with information about their services.Each state has a public utilities commission allowing customers to choose their electric suppliers, but still have it delivered through the assigned utility company.

A great tool for finding out if you can switch electric supplierswithin your area is through the USA.gov index of state and local consumer agencies website. Here, you can search by state to find a link to the appropriate Utilities and Transportation website and customer service information. Often, you can look online for renewable energy sources and search within your area to find out if it's possible to tap into your region's resources. For example, in Wisconsin, renewable wind energy has been gaining popularity. The American Wind Energy Association website features a tool where you can search the United States for wind energy in your area. Hydro and solar energy companies offer similar search tools at their websites. Be sure to research and benefit from all of your regional resources or you could be wasting time, money and energy.

What to Ask When Signing Up for Service

When it's time to sign up for an electric service-whether buying or renting a property-it's important to remember you have options. Do your research well in advance and ask as many questions up front before signing a contract. When moving into a new apartment or property, be sure to ask when the utility cut-off dates are and correlate schedules to be sure you only get charged for the electricity you use.

Also, ask if your utility company will provide a free energy audit followed by options for money and energy saving tips. If the utility service does not offer and energy audit with its own energy solutions, then find out if they partner with preferred ESCO companies in your area. Always ask if there are fees, deposits, renewal or switching procedures you need to be aware of before adding an ESCO to your utility service. Ask your utility company if it offers better rates than the ESCO, who may sound more appealing but could have hidden fees. Find out if energy rates are fixed or if they vary from month to month. Ask how long a contract lasts and whether or not there are penalties for making changes before the contract's expiration. Be sure to ask if you can have your statements combined to include bills from both your utility service and energy supplier. If at any time you have questions about your electric services, be sure to contact your utility company or your state's public utilities commission for the most current customer information.

Electric Vs. Gas

When you choose to purchase or rent a residential or business property, the utility service is already lined up. Many older residential locations do not have a gas line and some new homes only have one installed in the laundry area. Homes with gas lines installed throughout, allow homeowners the option to choose whether they want to use gas or electric appliances. Some people prefer one source of electricity over the other for varying reasons. One person might have concerns about the safety of leaking or rupturing gas lines, and only choose electric appliance, whereas, another person might view the electric appliances as fire or emissions hazards and only opt for gas appliances. Electricity is the most widely available and works with all appliances, but it costs more to run electric appliances. Gas is available in and around major cities, but not in rural settings.

Gas-powered appliances are less expensive to run for energy than electricity, and it causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electricity. Interestingly, appliance stores often lower the prices of electric appliances in an effort to sell more of those due to the increased popularity of the energy and cost saving option of gas appliances. When choosing any appliances, it's important to read reviews and find out the most efficient and cost-effective options while researching the environmental benefits of each.

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