Making Smart Choices on Your Electricity Bill this Valentine’s day

Right about now you may be putting the final touches on Valentine’s surprise for your sweetheart. The last thing on your mind is the utility bill – until it arrives. Suddenly, a candlelit dinner seems a lot more economical.

Being that we’re still in the grip of winter, it’s understandable that electric bills will be higher than other times of the year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Today we’re taking inspiration from those cute little Valentines conversation heart candies to provide tips on how you can make “smart” choices on your electricity bill.

ProviderPower_Smartelectricchoice

“Pick Me” – First, Make Sure You Choose the Right Service

If you live in a deregulated area you’re not stuck with a single provider. Customers can play the field and choose the electric provider they like best.

Much of the time the primary focus is on finding the provider with the lowest rates. While that is important, it’s best to find a provider that’s the total package. Providers that offer fixed rates make your monthly bill more predictable. Length of the contract is also a major factor when you’re looking for an energy partner. If you find a great rate locking it in for a long-term commitment will benefit you.

“Thank You” – Don’t Overlook Customer Service

Customer service is kind of like the quiet kid in class who surprises you with an amazing handmade Valentines Day card out of nowhere – it can be easy to overlook and you’ll probably regret it if you do. Provider Power makes customer service a priority because we know reliability is important. We also know that when a customer calls they like to hear the voice of a knowledgeable rep on the other line who can handle billing issues quickly.

Another aspect of customer service that’s sometimes forgotten about is the extra perks. Electric providers that want to keep customers happy are all about incentives like offering sign up rebates, referral rewards, and additional resources to improve energy efficiency at home. In other words, if a company is just an energy provider they may not be “the one.”

“Be True” – Know How to Read Your Bill

The utility delivers your bill each month, but how often do you read it beyond the amount due? Your electric bill may not be as entertaining as a romance novel, but understanding how to read it can actually help you to make smart choices.

If your provider has the customer service aspect of the business nailed down there’s a good chance they’ve created a guide to help customers decipher their bill. The guide will explain each part of the bill and how monthly rates are calculated. This information can help you discover when you use the most energy in a year, month or day. Knowing how to read your bill can also reduce the need to call customer service since you may be able to find the information you need yourself.

“Hot Stuff” – Temperature Settings Have a Huge Impact

There are a lot of ways to reduce energy use at home, but some changes move the needle more than others. When it’s cold outside you’ll want to pay careful attention to the temperature indoors. There are two places in particular to monitor:

Hot water heater – Too often people have their hot water heater turned up too high, and it wastes electricity and/or gas. The Department of Energy recommendation is to keep the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 20 degrees cooler than the factory default setting. Bonus: the cooler setting helps minimize mineral buildup.

Programmable thermostat – It’s tempting to crank up the heat during winter, but that won’t heat your cold house more quickly, and it will certainly increase your bill. The better strategy is to program your thermostat so that it remains a constant, reasonable temperature inside. When people are home and awake keep it at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When the house is empty and everyone is asleep you can bump it down to 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get chilly you can always add a layer of clothing or snuggle under a warm blanket.

“Text Me” – Use Your Smart Meter to Your Advantage

Many cities are replacing old equipment with new smart meters. They not only make it easier for utilities and providers to generate bills, but they also make it easier for customers to lower them. A smart meter is a powerful tool the can provide real-time updates on energy use. By monitoring energy use you can know how and when you use the most energy and can make adjustments to reduce usage or do energy-intensive tasks during off-peak hours. Some smart meters will even send you energy management and cost summary alerts.

Another benefit of using a smart meter is there are no surprises on your next bill. You’ll know ahead of time how much electricity was used in a billing period.

New England customers will fall in love with what Provider Power has to offer. From supporting local non-profits to helping customers make smart choices on their energy bills, Provider Power is the type of electricity supplier you want to have a relationship with. Pick your state to see the available electric plans!

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You’ve got the Power: How to Beat Rising Energy Costs

Electricity can be a sneaky thing. It’s always there and sometimes it can be hard to measure. This often leads to rising energy costs, leaving you scratching your head asking, “What happened?”

There are many things that can cause an electric bill to get out of control, but here are a few of the common culprits. Learn how to beat rising energy costs.

There are many things that can cause out of control rising energy costs, but here are a few of the common culprits:

Using out-of-date appliances

There are many things that can cause an electric bill to get out of control, but here are a few of the common culprits. Learn how to beat rising energy costs.

Source: EPA

Today, it can feel like technology, from our cell phones to our refrigerators, need constant updating. While we’re not recommending you buy the latest appliance, it is important to replace old, worn-out tech in the spirit of conserving electricity. Appliances are one of the biggest chunks of your electricity bill, so it’s crucial you’re not running ‘clunkers’ when you should be upgrading to energy-efficient models instead.
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How to Save Green While ‘Going Green’ This Winter

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is lovely, until you realize all that heat is escaping out of nooks and crannies in your home. Winter is surely on its way and the time to beat high energy costs is now. Here are a few ways you can save green while going green this winter:

Winter is surely on its way and the time to beat high energy costs is now! Here are a few ways you can save green while going green this winter!

Tip #1: Get an energy audit.

The first step in checking your money-saving potential is to hire a professional BPI certified energy rater to evaluate your spaces. This person will conduct what’s called an “energy audit” and he or she will test your home for energy losses and safety issues. Having an idea of what’s costing you the most energy (and money) is a great way to stay informed and stay ahead of fees.
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Blame it on the Rates: Electricity Bill Charges and What it All Means

It’s as easy as flipping on the lights– electricity is quick to use and seemingly immeasurable. Or is it? When the electricity bill comes in the mail, it can be difficult to make sense of the charges and fees; it can leave you wondering, “What am I even paying for?” Let us break it down for you.

When you buy gas, you’re charged by the gallon. When you buy electricity, you’re charged by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). When you use 1000 watts for one hour, that’s a kilowatt-hour. To get kilowatt-hours, take the wattage of the device, multiply by the number of hours you use it, and divide by 1000.

Example calculation: 500watts*10hours=5000/1000=5kWh

When the electricity bill comes in the mail, it can be difficult to make sense of the charges and fees; it can leave you wondering, “What am I even paying for?” Let us break it down for you.
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10 Tips to Save Energy this Fall & Winter

It seems fall and winter always come just a little too soon, and we’re forced to say ‘goodbye’ to our shorts, t-shirts, and long days in the sun. As you transition your closet from summer clothes to much warmer layers, it’s important to prepare your home to save energy, as well.

If you haven’t already, spend time thinking about the impact cooler temps and colder precipitation have on your home: heavy, wet snow on your roof, harsh winds sweeping across your home’s siding, and sharp, crisp frost covering your home’s windows. It’s a big seasonal change, and it can have significant impact on your energy bill.

As you transition your closet from summer clothes to much warmer layers, it’s important to prepare your home, as well.

Here are 10 of our favorite energy saving tips as the leaves (and the temperatures) fall:
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You’re Wasting Money on Monthly Expenses: Five Tips for a Lower Energy Bill

Our days are filled with energy usage: from plugging in our phone, microwaving our meals, and keeping our homes at a reasonable temperature (for both the sweltering summer and freezing winter.) We use a ton of energy. We’ve compiled some simple ways to create a lower energy bill, reduce your energy usage, and increase the money leftover in your pocket at the end of every month.

Here are five great tips for making changes around your home without breaking the bank. Tackling all five could result in massive savings on your energy bill!

Looking for ways to lower your monthly budget without buying new appliances? Take a look at these tips for trimming your monthly energy bills without having to invest.
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Simple Tips to Save Money & Energy Around the House

No more thinking or guesswork - Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each room in your home - and save money while doing so!

Have you ever wondered how you can cut energy costs depending on the room you’re in? Now, we take the thinking and guessing out of it. Here are some simple ways you can cut back on energy consumption for each major room in your home.
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We Agree. Read the Fine Print

Legislative efforts in New Hampshire to make electricity buying for consumers should be embraced.

The following appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader-March 19, 2015

Dave Solomon’s Power Plays: When it comes to utility mailings, read the fine print
DAVE SOLOMON

Competition in the sale of electricity has been a fact of life for New Hampshire’s residential consumers for the past three years, yet confusion persists in the market.

Many customers are still getting stuck with high-priced variable rates after their fixed-rate contacts expire.
Complaints to the Public Utilities Commission and to state lawmakers prompted two bills in the state Legislature this year designed to enhance consumer protections and rein in questionable marketing practices by some competitive electricity suppliers.

The House bill, HB 345, would have created a consumer bill of rights, eliminating the ability of a utility to cut-off service for non-payment of an energy supply charge. That bill failed on a voice vote in the House on March 4.

A bill in the Senate, SB 170, would require the Public Utilities Commission to redesign the billing format for residential electric bills and the PUC website so that key information for consumers will jump out and hit them on the head. It’s called “conspicuous notification.”

That bill is still alive, and is likely to pass after getting an “ought to pass” recommendation on March 12 by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It has bipartisan support with 12 senators signed on as cosponsors, and is scheduled for a floor vote today, March 19.

In addition to mandating changes to the billing format for electricity customers and improvements to the PUC website, it puts some teeth into PUC enforcement of the competitive electricity market, authorizing regulators to assess fines, rescind contracts, order restitution and revoke the registration of any competitive electricity supplier “found to have engaged in any unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the marketing, sale or solicitation of electricity supply or related services.”

Defining unfair or deceptive practices is not going to be easy, because some competitive suppliers know how to exploit the confusion in the market with promotional materials that walk a fine line between deceptive and unclear.

While testifying in support of SB 170 back in January, the attorney who represents consumers before the PUC, Susan Chamberlin, pointed out just how confusing it can be.

“I’ve seen disclosures provided by at least one competitive supplier that say, ’OK after your fixed rate expires, this will go to the rate determined by the ISO-New England,’ ” she said. “That’s not completely inaccurate, but it’s not completely accurate either. ISO doesn’t regulate the rate, they simply monitor the market, and the market can have a variable rate that goes up to 100 percent more than what you are paying.”

A mailed solicitation from North American Power that went out last month triggered some confusion. Here’s how Rosemary Marshall of Hollis described the North American mailing.

“I received information from PSNH reflecting North American Power as the option for a change to our energy supplier. Have there been any complaints regarding their fixed rate?”

That mailing did not come from PSNH. I got the same mailing. It’s easy to see why someone would think it comes from PSNH. It says “Attention PSNH customers, First Notice,” and has PSNH all over it, but it was from North American, whose logo is inconspicuously placed in the lower right hand corner of the page. The key details of the offer are in microscopic print at the bottom of the back page.

North American has actually been one of the more stable companies in competitive supply. One company, Glacial Energy, had people going door to door representing themselves as PSNH employees.

A new entrant into the market, Ambit Energy, uses an Amway-style network marketing system that will soon have your friends and neighbors telling you what a great deal they can get you on your PSNH bill, which may be technically true, but not entirely accurate.

Regarding Rosemary’s question about complaints, I checked with Amanda Noonan, director of consumer affairs at the PUC, who provided complaint data from June 1 of last year to Feb. 20, regarding the two major competitive suppliers in the state — ENH Power with more than 40,000 customers, and North American, with about 35,000.

The PUC got 21 complaints about ENH, and 101 about North American. What accounts for the difference? Here’s what Noonan had to say:

“ENH Power offers only fixed price energy products to its customers. A few weeks before the end date of the contract, ENH communicates to its customers that the contract will be ending and offers a new fixed price, fixed term contract. The communication tells the customer what the price is and what to do if they want or don’t want to continue with ENH”

“North American Power offers fixed priced energy products to its customers as well. It also communicates to its customers a few weeks before the end date of the contract, notifying customers that the contract will be ending. The communication tells the customer what to do if they want or don’t want to continue with North American.”

“It also notifies the customers that if they do nothing, they will be placed on North American Power’s variable price service. The notice does not tell the customer what that service will be priced at, most likely because the price is not yet known. For those customers that do nothing, the variable price service can be considerably higher in the winter months than the fixed-price service.”

Bottom line: Read the fine print.

– See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150319/NEWS02/150318919/0/SEARCH#sthash.PyFfl8kh.dpuf

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