All About Electricity and Gas Companies & Costs | Info

Learning About Electricity and Gas Companies and Costs

by | Deregulation, Educational, Electricity, Energy Resources, Energy Savings, Energy Topics

Understanding how your electricity company works doesn’t have to be complicated. Are you moving, looking for a better electric rate, or interested in changing plans? This guide will simplify the process and help in your quest to learn more about the electricity companies in your neighborhood. Keep reading to get the information you need to know about energy companies, electricity plans, natural gas plans, your energy bill, and more.

Who Provides My Electric & Gas Service?
How Do I Find Out What Electricity Company I’m With?

More often than not, finding out who provides your electric service can be fairly straight-forward. Your first option is to look at a copy of your energy bill. Your statement will tell you who your current natural gas or electric company is. Your energy provider will also list their contact information on that form.

If you don’t yet have an energy plan for the address in question, try asking your real estate agent, landlord, or the tenant who previously lived on the property. They should be able to tell you who the current provider is. They may also know of any other natural gas and electric companies that provide service for the neighborhood.

You can also visit or call your local city hall. They will be able to tell you who the energy companies are that service your area. Take it one step further by doing a quick online search to learn all about your state’s energy supplier options.

Here’s a Quick Recap on How To Find Out Which Electricity Companies Service Your Area:

  • Look at a copy of your energy bill.
  • Ask your landlord, real estate agent, or the previous tenant if they know which electricity company services your property.
  • Call or visit your local municipal building.
  • Do an online search to learn about the energy regulations in your state.

What Is Electricity and Natural Gas Choice?

Electricity and natural gas choice, or deregulation, is when residential customers can pick who provides their energy service. Deregulation occurs in many areas throughout the United States, allowing for consumer choice, competitive pricing, and innovative products.

In deregulated markets, your local utility company is still responsible for distributing your electricity or natural gas. However, the supplier that you have chosen to work with determines the pricing. In these competitive markets, consumers benefit from perks such as green energy product options.

These plans also allow for consumers to choose from various rate plans. Some electric companies even offer renewable energy bill credits, helping customers save money and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time.

Which States Have Deregulated Energy Markets?

Deregulated Energy Markets | United States - Western States illustrationsource

Over half of the United States currently offers areas with deregulated energy markets. Some of those states can choose their retail electricity provider. Some can choose their natural gas provider, and others can choose both.

Let’s take a look at which states have deregulated energy markets. Keep in mind that the energy provider locations determine which areas of each state can participate in this program. We’ll break down the United States by region to explore which states support deregulated energy markets.

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The Western States With Deregulated Energy Markets

Residents from some areas of these four states have the freedom to choose their energy provider:

Where Does California Get Its Electricity?

California leads the United States in producing electricity from renewable energy sources that include solar (from the sun), geothermal (from heat within the Earth), and biomass (from plants and animals). The state is also one of the top producers of conventional hydroelectric power (renewable energy from moving water), and also has a vast supply of crude oil.

In large part, California can thank Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which gets its electricity from a mix of greenhouse gas-free technologies making it 100% greenhouse gas-free. About 5.1 Million accounts across 70,000-square-miles of service area in California utilize Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.

The Southern States With Deregulated Energy Markets

The following seven states, ranging from East to West, represent the southern region where deregulated energy markets are available:

  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

Where Does Texas Get Its Electricity?

Texans who live in the service territory of an alternate electricity supplier are required to participate. If they don’t choose a competitive supplier, they are assigned one.

The Midwestern States With Deregulated Energy Markets

Residential customers who live in the service areas of alternate suppliers in the following six states have electricity companies to choose from:

Where Does Illinois Get Its Electricity?

There’s no shortage of green energy options in Illinois. Of all 50 states, it generates the most electricity from nuclear energy. Although coal-fired power plants rank as the state’s second-largest electricity provider, Illinois is also among the top in the nation for generating wind-powered electricity.

Because of its centralized location in the U.S. and its extensive transportation network, Illinois plays several additional roles in assisting the nation’s economy.

The state is a significant hub for moving natural gas crude oil. It can produce 1.9 billion gallons of ethanol and 162 million gallons of biodiesel annually by harvesting mass amounts of soybeans and corn on its expansive farmland.

The Mid-Atlantic States With Deregulated Energy Markets

These areas in the Mid-Atlantic region have service areas that support deregulated energy markets:

The Northeastern States With Deregulated Energy Markets

The Northeastern region boasts six states with alternative supplier service areas:

Which States Don’t Have Energy Choice Options?

Deregulated energy markets are not available to residents in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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Residents who don’t have access to alternative electricity providers must use the designated utility service in their area.

How Much Does Electricity Cost?

Electricity Costs | Pricing Information General - lightbulb illustrationsource

There’s no concrete answer to this question since the cost to supply electricity varies minute by minute. But according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average annual price in 2019 for residential electricity was around 13 cents per kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Electricity cost differs based on time of day, availability of local natural resources, weather, environment, taxes, demand, and more. Although the price charged reflects the real-time cost, most consumers won’t notice a significant month-to-month difference. Many electricity companies offer fixed-rate electricity plans that honor the same rate through the length of your contract, making budgeting easier.

How Much Will My Monthly Electricity Cost?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has reported that, on average, U.S. residential electricity customers used about 877 kWh per month in 2019. At the national average rate of 13 cents per kWh, that comes to an average monthly rate of about $114. Of course, many variables will affect your electricity rates.

How Do I Save on My Electricity Bill?

Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your electricity cost. Here are some tips and tricks that you can follow to find low rates and keep your electricity bill under control.

1. Make Simple Adjustments To Create an Energy-Efficient Home

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Creating an energy-efficient home can be reasonably straight-forward. Although you will have to spend a bit upfront, energy efficiency will significantly lower your monthly energy costs. Here are a few suggestions you can try right away:

Install a Smart Thermostat

Do you ever wonder if you turned off the lights before you left your house? Or if you remembered to turn the heat down before going on vacation? With smart thermostats, you can check in on your home from wherever you are.

Plus, you can completely customize it with automatic temperature adjustments throughout the day — less for you to keep track of and more savings in your pocket.

Purchase a Water Blanket

Have you ever heard of a water blanket? It’s not for people; it’s for your water heater. Insulate your water heater with the blanket to help it maintain heat for a more extended period. This will reduce how often it has to run, saving you significant money over time.

Minimize Areas Where Air Can Escape

You’re spending money to heat and cool your home. You want that air to stay in your home, don’t you? Fight against those leaky areas by adding insulation around your attic joists, perimeter, and door. Then, apply caulk to seal any small holes or gaps you find around your windows and doors.

2. Know “What, When, and How” To Make Responsible Choices

Electricity in the House | Smart and Responsible Choices imagesource

What uses the most electricity in the house? Well, just over half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and air conditioning. Creating an energy-efficient home is an investment that can help to keep these electricity costs at bay.

Next in line comes refrigerators, lighting, and water heating. Again, you have some control over how efficient you are in using these items.

The final big energy consumers in the home are your appliances. Here we include everything from your living room and kitchen to your laundry room and home office. When it’s time to replace an appliance, strongly consider upgrading to one that has energy-saving capabilities.

3. Research Your Local Electricity Companies To Find the Best Electricity Plan for You

Fixed and Variable Electricity Plans | Electric Companies Comparison-imagesource

Even if there aren’t multiple electricity providers in your area, you may have some flexibility with choosing from different electricity plans. For instance, would you rather have a variable rate (one that fluctuates with changes in the market) or a fixed-rate plan (which ensures a consistent price over time)?

When you’re researching your local electricity companies, consider which options will be best for your situation and ask many questions.

Is there an early termination fee? Does the electric company offer renewable energy bill credits? How many electricity plans are there to choose from? Are there prepaid utility plans? Is there a budget billing plan available?

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Answer as many of these questions as you can to feel confident that you have chosen the best electric plan for your unique situation.

When Is the Cheapest Time To Use Electricity?

Is electricity cheaper at night? In a single word, yes. If you want to maximize your energy savings, avoid peak hours to take advantage of low rates.

Electricity demand is usually highest in the afternoon as well as early evening. These are peak hours, so electricity costs are generally higher at these times. Depending on your power company, non-peak hours are typically between 7 pm and noon.

How Can I Get Electricity With Bad Credit?

Making your electricity payments on time should be a priority. When applying for energy services, the utility company will run your credit history.

If you have bad credit, electricity companies could deny service. However, it’s more likely that they will ask you to pay a deposit or submit a letter of guarantee. This is a letter where someone else agrees to pay your bill if you aren’t able to.

If you fall behind with your payments, contact your electricity provider right away. Typically, your electric provider will be willing to set up a payment plan to avoid service interruption.

How Do I Manage My Electricity?

Now that you know everything you need to know about electricity companies and costs let’s learn how to manage your energy. Once you’ve read through these FAQs, you’ll be well on your way to managing your utilities like a pro.

Where Do I Find My Electricity Meter?

If you live in a single-family home, it’s most likely that you will find your meter mounted outside your house where the power lines meet your home. If not, you’ll find it inside the house or garage.

For apartments, duplexes, and other multiple-family dwellings, meters are typically found together in one location. Ask your landlord how to access your meter and how to determine which one is for your unit.

How Do I Read My Electricity Meter?

Electricity Meter | Reading Your Meter Location imagesource

Once you’ve located your electricity meter, you can use it to help monitor your energy usage. Although it’s not necessary, it’s good to have a basic understanding. When taking meter readings, try to check it around the same time each day to get an idea of one full day’s usage.

Always start by reading the far right dial and work from right to left as if you were solving a math equation (think place value). If a dial’s pointer falls between two numbers, then you will use the smaller number.

Here’s the tricky part: If the pointer looks like it’s directly on a number, then look at the dial to it’s right. If that dial is on 8 or 9, you will record one number smaller than the pointer on the direct number indicates. If the dial is past 0, on 1 or 2, you will record the number that the dial appears to be directly pointing to.

Keep working your way across, reading and writing the numbers from right to left, until complete. When done, you will read the number from left to right as expected.

How Do I Get My Electricity Turned on the Same Day?

If you know that you’re going to be moving, your best bet is to get your utilities set up ahead of time. Two or three weeks before the big move date, you can call your energy provider to let them know when you would like your service to be transferred or canceled.

If you’re changing energy providers, contact the new electric company as well to set a date for the new service to begin. This will eliminate any headaches on the day when you actually move into your new place.

Of course, life doesn’t always run so smoothly. The first step is to do your research on local electricity companies. Once you’ve chosen your preferred provider, select an energy plan.

Finally, call your utility company to ask if they have the option to apply for same-day service. Although there’s no guarantee, it’s becoming more common for electricity companies to provide same-day service, especially if your new home already has the proper equipment installed and you’re able to call before 2 pm.

Is Gas Cheaper Than Electricity? If So, Why Is Electricity More Expensive Than Gas?

Electricity is four times more expensive than gas. But when you’re looking for the cheapest way to heat your home, gas isn’t always the better option. The main reason is that gas equipment can be more expensive to install, maintain, and repair. Suppose your home isn’t natural gas ready. In that case, you will have to determine if the additional expenses will outweigh the utility savings over time.

Electricity is more expensive than natural gas because of transportation costs and taxes. It can also be less efficient than using natural gas for heating your home based on the amount of fuel used to generate that heat.

Are You One of the Consumers Choosing From the Best Electricity Companies?

Best Electricity Companies | Consumer Choice - solar panel imagesource

Deregulated energy markets are becoming more widely available throughout the United States, Canada, and worldwide. Become familiar with your neighborhood’s electricity providers and their energy rates today.

If you’re fortunate enough to reside in an area serviced by Just Energy or another energy market area with deregulation, don’t miss your opportunity to simultaneously reduce your electricity cost and impact on the planet.

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