Over the past decade, electricity and natural gas became deregulated commodities – meaning that customers can shop around for the supply portion of their electric and natural gas bills from various retail providers in their service area. There are a few key points to keep in mind when shopping around for a retail electric or natural gas provider.
Shop for Electric and Natural Gas Supply Separately
Some energy providers may offer both electricity and natural gas supply, but these two “commodities” should be treated separately when making the choice. – One may assume that if both commodities are supplied by one energy provider, the reliability and service would be better than having separate providers. This is not the case.
No matter who supplies your energy, your utility is responsible for transmitting and delivering your energy. Transmission and distribution is separate from the supply side of energy that you are able to shop around for, and is a separate, unrelated charge on your utility bill. No matter which retail energy providers you choose (or don’t choose), reliability and service will stay the same since it is the responsibility of the utilities, which are all regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
How to Choose the Best Energy Provider for You
When shopping around for an energy provider, there are several things you should look for or ask about before agreeing to any contract. No matter if you are shopping for electricity or natural gas, look for:
- Energy provider that are licensed by Pennsylvania’s PUC.
- Energy rates that are lower than your Price-to-Compare –what you’re currently being charged.
- The Price-to-Compare for both electricity and natural gas can be found on your utility bill.
- Electricity is expressed in “cents per kilowatt hour” (kWh), and natural gas is expressed in either “hundred cubic feet” (ccf) or “therms”. To convert ccf to therms, multiply the ccf by 1.025.
- Plans with low fixed rates.
- Variable rates are subject to large fluctuations, while fixed rates lock in low prices for the duration of the contract.
- Contract lengths that are comfortable for you and your energy needs.
- 3, 6, 12, and 18-month contract lengths are common.
- Incentives or bonuses offered for switching.
- Additional fees for early contract cancellation.
There are literally dozens of retail energy providers that serve various areas of Pennsylvania. You’ll find a FREE tool at the top of this page that eliminates the majority of the time needed to research retail electricity providers. Simply type your Zip Code into the orange box, select your utility, and then you’ll be presented with the best available electric rates and plans in your service area.
To shop around for natural gas, visit Pennsylvania’s PUC website to view a list of Natural Gas companies that are licensed by the PUC.
To switch to an energy provider, simply gather your energy account information and call the energy provider of your choice. The customer service representative will do all of the switching for you, so there’s no need to contact your utility (or your previous retail energy provider). You’ll start seeing savings within one to two billing cycles.