Choosing the right electricity provider may seem like an ordeal that’s simply not worth the extra effort. However, it doesn’t have to be an ordeal, nor an unworthy one if you approach it right.
Finding a suitable electricity provider can feel extremely rewarding on a few different levels, from the saved costs, to the better overall experience, to the reduced footprint on the environment. If the latter is of particular importance to you, you can compare energy ratings and pick the electricity provider that makes for the most environmentally conscious choice – something you can’t do if you go for a local utility.
If you live in a state with deregulated energy, the free market breeds competition, opposed to a monopoly, which is always good for the customer as it results in a plethora of options and drives the overall quality up.
In that spirit, here are a few tips to help you sift through all the choices and ultimately decide on the electricity provider that best serves your interests.
Fixed VS Variable Rate
Some electricity providers work with fixed rates while others offer variable ones. This make a huge difference to the overall experience.
Variable rates actually vary between themselves. A variable rate might involve peak, off-peak, and shoulder rates, which refer to the times of day that electricity is being used, or it can also depend on the fluctuations in the actual market.
Either way, this option is clearly unpredictable, especially in the case of fluctuations in the market, and if you like to keep a relatively close estimate of your monthly expenses, this certainly isn’t the best choice for you. In fact, sometimes it might be better to pay a little more, but to have the peace of mind of knowing that the amount won’t change, than to stress out over the intangible variations.
Of course, if you have some financial leeway and can greet such fluctuations confidently, then there’s nothing wrong with opting for an electricity provider that works with variable rates.
Research and Background Check
You simply can’t understate the importance of thorough research and a proper background check, especially when it comes to providers of those types of services.
Research is probably the more trivial aspect, meaning you should cover the basics in terms of getting familiar with the provider’s offerings. You need to actually read the agreement and think about what each of its points and terms entail before signing.
Before that, however, it’s definitely a good idea to go the extra mile and perform a background check. It doesn’t have to be some FBI-esque investigation, but Google-ing the company’s name in combination with words like “complaints,” “bad reviews,” “scam,” and/or “rip off” can potentially save you a great deal of headache, and quite possibly money, later on.
Transparency and Simplicity
Even though complicated agreements in this line of work are certainly no exception, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for simplicity and transparency or take contracts, woven with riddles as a red flag.
Chances are if a contract seems unnecessarily complicated, it’s because the electricity provider is trying to divert your attention away from terms they don’t want you to notice.
This is why a simple, straightforward contract can sometimes be the truest sign of integrity in this line of work.
Helpful Tools and Innovations
After all, we live in times when there’s an app for virtually everything, and if anything could use the ease and user-friendliness that technology can enable, it’s the process of monitoring your energy usage.
One of the most frustrating and worrisome aspects of dealing with electricity is how invisible and vague the whole experience can be. With certain providers, you just set up a plan, and get a bill at the end of the month, not knowing how it all came to be. Not only does the whole process of waiting to see the damage each month fill you up with anxiety, but even worse, it’s nearly impossible to make any adjustments in order to lower your bill.
Many electricity providers offer apps, guides, and platforms that let you keep track of your energy usage in almost real time, which can be of huge help, both in terms of saving money and deciding if that provider is actually the right choice for you.
Customer service is another intangible that can completely shape and shift the entire experience, especially with a service as tricky and complex as this one can be. While it’s hard to gage it before committing to the electricity provider, there are definitely things to look out for.
First thing you can do is check out your potential provider’s Facebook page and see how quickly they respond to messages. Not only, but you should check if it’s an actual person on the other end, or just a bot that serves as a diversion.
Then, you should look for a phone number. If you can’t find it easily enough, that’s probably no coincidence – it means they don’t want you to find it.
You can also try out the email communication to see how long it takes them to get back to you.
Of course, last but not least, or perhaps even first, you can check where the provider’s energy comes from. If you really care about this aspect, you can do a proper research to make sure you’re choosing a provider that isn’t using renewable energy merely as a marketing gimmick.
Choosing an electricity provider can definitely feel like a daunting task. However, you certainly can’t do without electricity, so arm yourself with those tips, and go find the best provider for you.