Shopping for Utilities

by GettingFreedom on March 11, 2010

This guest post is from Connie. She is a homeschooling mom of 8 rowdy kids, wife for 25 years to one hunky golf pro, writer of stories, wiper of noses. She blogs regularly at Smockity Frocks.

Do you live in a state where you can choose your electric company? (<——Find out by clicking the link.)

In Texas, where I live, consumers can shop around for competitive electric rates, so that is just what we did recently.

When we moved to our current town about 18 months ago, we signed a 2 year agreement to lock in the rate. Energy prices have fallen since then by 1/3, but we were still paying the higher rate because of being locked into the contract.

When my husband looked into switching companies, he found that we could get out of the contract by paying a fee of $100. Although we hated to pay that fee, our electric bill will be reduced more than that the first month!

Our new electric company allows us to use a month to month agreement, so if their rates rise, we can look for better rates or lock in if we expect all rates to rise.

We have also shopped around for phone/internet/cable service and found that we have been able to cut our bills there, too.

My husband always does the negotiations and when he finds a cheaper rate, he contacts the original (more expensive company) to let them know that we have found a better rate, but we would be willing to keep the service we have been using if they would match the cheaper rate.

Often, the original company will want to keep our business and match the rate, but sometimes they won’t and we will move on.

This was the case with your electric company. My husband called to let them know we were considering a move and offered to stay if they would reduce our rate to match the competitor, but they declined. At that time arrangements were made to make the switch.

Be sure to shop around to see if you can find a cheaper rate for your utilities. Here are some tips we have found helpful:

  • If there is a fee for switching companies, compare that to the savings you will see after switching. It may be worth it to pay the fee.
  • Be aware of when your contract expires. Rates will often go up when your contract runs out.
  • Negotiate with companies to see if they are willing to give you a reduced rate for your loyalty.

What experiences have you had shopping around for competitive utility prices?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

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