Shopping for electricity and gas plans can be tricky. With so many energy suppliers and energy brokers in the marketplace, knowing who to trust might seem like a challenge. In fact, many commercial customers have even been victims of energy scams and fraud, and are unwilling to switch away from the utility company. This article addresses those concerns and more, and gives advice on how to properly shop for an energy rate for your business.
How To Shop For Electricity And Gas Plans: Step By Step
In order to better advise you on energy plans and deregulated energy markets, we put together this step by step guide. Follow the steps below to find the best energy plans for your business.
1. Know Your Usage & Rate Class
Whether you are a small business, large industrial facility, or residential customer, the first step is to understand your energy usage and utility rate class. These factors determine the types of energy plans you can shop for, and the total price for energy that you might pay. You can find this information on your utility bill. If you need help, try contacting a reputable energy broker or read this article on deciphering the anatomy of your electric bill.
2. Compare Energy Suppliers
Next, it’s important to compare the various energy supply companies offering rates in the market. Some companies have a great reputation, while others do not. Decide which companies you are willing to contract with and eliminate others from your list.
3. Shop Electric Rates or Gas Rates
Now you can start to compare the different energy rates offered by the companies on your list. You can do this by going online, contacting the companies directly, or hiring an energy broker to negotiate with energy suppliers on your behalf.
4. Be Sure To Read The Fine Print
Not all energy companies are created equal. Most companies are transparent in their price offerings, while others are not. It’s important to read the fine print of each offer to make sure that you are truly comparing apples-to-apples. Watch out for additional monthly fees, rates without taxes, and rates that have pass-through charges.
5. Read The Energy Contract Language
Although legal contract language can seem daunting, it’s important to understand the elements of your energy contract before signing. You may want to consider using the services of an energy broker or consultant to help you better understand the contract details. Things like material changes and swing clauses can affect your energy bill throughout the contract.
6. Watch Out For Scams
Unfortunately, there are many energy scams in the marketplace. Before you sign the contract, be sure that you are not falling for a typical energy fraud. Here are some of the common scams to be aware of:
- Short-term low rates that end up tripling a few months after you sign
- Hidden utility bill charges and pass-through costs on plans that appear to be fixed
- Auto-renewal contract language that does not let you cancel
7. Sign The Contract
After you’ve determined that you found a good plan offering from a reputable supplier, it’s time to sign the contract. Make sure that you store a copy of your contract and request a countersigned copy from the supplier.
8. Mark Down Your Renewal Date
Energy contract renewals are important to keep track of. If you forget, most suppliers will bill you a variable, market-based rate that will be very high. It’s important to mark down your contract expiration date in your calendar so you remember to shop for a renewal when the time comes.
9. Check Your Bill
After your new energy contract goes into effect, it’s important to follow up by checking your utility bills. Be sure that the new rate on your bill matches that on your contract, and contact the energy supplier immediately if it does not. If you happen to be using an energy broker, they will do this for you to ensure that you are being billed correctly.
Need Help Shopping For An Electricity Plan?
Most commercial and industrial benefit handsomely by hiring an energy broker to do the shopping on their behalf. Not only will a broker pre-vet energy suppliers and negotiate rates, they can also help you to understand your contract and even watch the market for renewal opportunities. If you are looking for a reliable energy broker to help you manage your energy plans, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us today to learn more about how we help our commercial customers manage their energy costs.