Have you ever wished paying for electricity were more like paying for your cell phone, where you can find a plan that suits your habits? Free weekend minutes, long-term plans that lock in a lower rate, flexible month-by-month …Well, if you live in a deregulated electricity market, you have similar choices when it comes to paying for power! Read on to find out how to choose the type of electricity option that fits you best.
Have you ever wished paying for electricity were more like paying for your cell phone, where you can find a plan that suits your habits?
If you live in a deregulated electricity market, you have similar choices when it comes to paying for power! Not only are there all kinds of different power companies, but also many payment options under which your energy use characteristics can save you money…or just peace of mind.
In a previous post, we pointed out that in New York, the “default” plan for ConEd, RGE, NYSEG, NIMO, Central Hudson and O&R is based on variable rates – this means electric supply charges per kilowatt-hour (kWh) fluctuate each month in line with market conditions. However, electric supply companies - also known as ESCOs - offer many payment options under which your energy use characteristics can save you money…or just peace of mind. Here are a few examples with some beloved characters.
Mr. Worry Chooses the Fixed Electric Rate Plan
Mr. Worry is concerned about what the next big storm or heat wave will do to his electric bill - he likes a fixed rate plan. His electric rate stays the same over a set period of time such as 6 months or 1 year (known as term), allowing him to lock in the same monthly rate during the term. Once the term is up, he can shop around again for the best rate. In some regions, plans are available for two, three or even five years. Like cell phone plans, many providers reward folks like Mr. Worry for their loyalty and offer attractive electric rates and incentives to those who lock themselves in. Most fixed rate plans have termination fees, which reflect the cost of securing power for that period of time.
Mr. Brave Goes Variable
Mr. Brave, on the other hand, likes the challenge of finding the very best deal each month. Variable electric rate plans fluctuate with market conditions and often come with nicely priced introductory offers from the ESCOs. These plans tend to look particularly good in the spring or fall, when electricity is usually cheaper than average. They are great for someone like Mr. Brave who loves to save a buck – and is willing to spend some time doing it. At ClearlyEnergy, we love Mr. Brave because he keeps coming back to check for the cheapest rates - he checks the “Variable” option in the term menu.
A word of caution if you, too, are feeling brave: avoid the offers that are cheap but charge a termination fee. Have to pay for ending your contract and switching to another plan could undo all your savings so be sure to check for "no fee to cancel" under the “Terms & Conditions” column.
Little Miss Neat Likes Green
Besides the choice between fixed or variable, there are other options that can be good for the environment.
For somebody like Little Miss Neat, who is bothered by messy emissions from fossil-fueled power plants, a plan involving a high percentage renewable energy is something she can actively choose. On our search page, she can use the renewable-content-adjuster to suit her preferences – after all, she is green.
Finicky Little Miss Neat can also check for information on the source of the renewable energy and whether it is Green-E Certified, an industry standard that validates renewable energy claims.
Go Ahead, Shop Around!
Whether you find yourself more like Mr Worry, Mr. Brave or Little Miss Neat, ClearlyEnergy’s got you covered! Please check here to see the a summary of the best rates available by utility.
* Characters courtesy of Richard Hargreaves' book series
By Lisa Zelljadt, you can find me on Google+