NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Turning up the thermostat, and turning on the ceiling fans can only cut your power bill so far. In the middle of a historic heat wave though, more North Texas residents are looking for relief from bills that are commonly climbing above $300 a month.
Business strategists say the answer may be in switching service providers, but it takes a lot of work to make it pay off. “It really comes down to you educating yourself and clearly understanding what it is you’re paying for,” said Julie Ann Lyssy at the Fort Worth Better Business Bureau.
Experts say you may be better off waiting to change until spring, when lower natural gas prices make generating energy cheaper. The easiest way to get started is on the state Public Utility Commission website powertochoose.org.
Look at your current bill to find what you pay per kilowatt hour, and compare it to the rates on the site. If you’re not careful though said Lyssy, you could wind up paying even more than you do now.
Some of the cheapest advertised rates are promotional or introductory, but that isn’t always clear on the website. It is key, experts say, to read the time consuming fine print to make sure that low rate won’t climb in another month.
Once you find a rate you can commit to, go shopping again on other websites. The same plan is often offered at different rates, just like an airline ticket price varies between travel sites.
Reliant Energy’s Secure-6 plan with 20-percent wind energy is offered at 9.3 cents per kilowatt hour on the website saveonenergy.com.
But on Reliant’s site, the same plan is priced at 8.4 cents.
On powertochoose.org, it’s just 8.3 cents.
Your current provider may charge you a penalty if you switch after committing to a year or more of service. But Jeanette Kopko at the Dallas Better Business Bureau said it may be worth paying if your new rate is significantly lower than the one you’re currently paying.
Experts also recommend letting your new company handle all the changes and arrangements, so you don’t get in the middle of two companies fighting for your business.
If after all your research you find out your current plan is the best one out there, you might still save money Kopko said, if you just ask.
Some companies may match an advertised rate of a competitor, or do even better in order to keep you as a customer.