There was a time when we were locked in to our electricity provider. We paid the amount on the monthly electric bills, no matter how high, and that was that. The only other alternative, which wasn’t really an alternative, was to live without power.

In most of the United States, this is no longer true. Not only do you have a choice when it comes to who provides your power, you can actually lower electric bills. In fact, you can review your options for electric providers right now. Enter your zip code in the box to compare available providers and plans in your area. You have a great chance of lowering your electric bill with just a few mouse clicks!

And there’s more. You can generate your own electricity from renewable energy and receive state and federal energy tax credits based on the cost of your system. And if you generate more electricity than you can use, you may be able to sell the surplus to your electric provider—in other words, you can make your electric meter go backwards!

If you want to wait a bit before getting into solar panels and wind turbines, there are essentially two ways to reduce your electricity cost:

  1. Reduce your power use.There are a number of strategies to reduce the amount of electricity you use. Some involve simply changing habits, while others require some up front financial investment. In either case, the rate at which your electric meter ticks over kilowatt hours will noticeably slow down.Here is a checklist of big and small strategies that you can put into play to lower electric bills:
    • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
    • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers.
    • Keep your heating thermostat 68 degrees or lower, and your air conditioning 75 degrees or higher.
    • Replace single pane windows with double pane models.
    • Increase the insulation in your attic.
    • Install a solar powered attic fan.
    • Replace old appliances with Energy Star rated models.
    • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.

    You can browse the Internet to find more ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy provides a free downloadable Energy Savers booklet that is packed with information about how to lower electric bills by reducing power use. Encyclopedic sites like eHow.com also contain lists of all kinds that related to energy efficiency and lower electric bills.

  2. Change your electricity provider. While energy saving strategies are important for reducing electric bills, you can achieve a big decrease in this one move. For most consumers, switching providers virtually guarantees big savings. Some plans allow you to lock in a rate that is about 15% lower than the standard utility rate! This is such a key element of lower electric bills that it is well worth doing the research to find the best option for you. Gather information about electricity costs where you live, then compare available providers to find the best fit for your home and your lifestyle.