Do you own a home or rent an apartment? Are any of the utility bills in your name? Did you know you can negotiate utility bills and try to get the best price as a way to save money on gas, electricity and other utilities? We are happily saving money on utility bills every month as a result of a little web research, an analysis of my current bills and a few phone calls.
Today I’ll explain briefly what to do to save money on gas and utility bills. Please note that these tips would apply to residents in Ohio who pay for their own natural gas and electricity bills. You can do this in other states too, but I’m using Ohio, where I live, as an example for how to do this.
How to Save Money on Gas
Why Save on Utility Bills?
There are a lot of areas in life where you can strive to spend less and save more money. Ever since becoming a homeowner I’ve become keenly aware of the amount of money that is spent each month on home operations. This includes utility bills. For us we have a water bill, a sewer bill, electric bill and a natural gas bill.
For water and sewer bills typically not much can be done to change the price of the service, however, tactics can be done to use less water so that your bills will be lower. I would like to cover that savings in a future post. Today this post will focus on natural gas bills and electric bills. The reason the savings can be so huge is because it’s an area where you spend money every day.
Steps to Save Money on Gas & Electricity
I want to walk you through the exact steps I take to save the most money on utilities. Like water usage you can incorporate tactics to use less power or gas to save money. However, my tips today are focused on your suppliers and negotiating up front how much you are going to pay for your utilities. These are the steps I follow as a customer in Ohio. Please note specifics may vary slightly based on what state you live in.
First Check Your Current Prices
The process is the same for both utilities. First, look at your current electric and natural gas bills. Write down what you are paying per kWw for electric and per Mcf for natural gas. The rate is on your bill. If you are like me and had never done this before you are likely paying the “standard rate” which is basically whatever the utility service provider feels like charging you.
Next visit Energy Choice Ohio and click on “Compare Offers” also known as the “Apples to Apples” comparison chart. Select residential electric service. Then you will see a list of rates and offers from different companies.
Sort by Price and Fixed Rate
You can sort rates by price, by type of offer (fixed rate which is the same every month or variable which can go up or down). Click on offers that interest you, read the details and note if there is an early cancellation fee.
When I first negotiated utility bills a few years ago, I was paying 0.0636 cents per kWh for electric. I was able to find a 6-month fixed rate for 0.0599 cents per kWh. It my not seem like much of a difference but it really does add up!
Sign Up for Your New Utility Supplier
Once you find a rate that is cheaper than what you are currently paying you simply sign up online with the provider, or you can call them and sign up over the phone. Make sure you have your account number handy, along with the full name of the person on the account and service address. I signed up online and the process is really easy and quick.
After you sign up be sure to pay attention to your bill and make sure your new provider and price goes into effect per your new contract. I ended up calling my new electricity provider several weeks later to confirm the new price was going to kick in.
Repeat This Process in the Future
Lastly, make a reminder for yourself to check on prices again once your contract is nearing expiration. I use an electronic calendar for most of my needs, but others may prefer using a personal day planner. I simply made a reminder 6-months from the date I signed up and include the current rate I was paying and provider name. This way I don’t have to look this information up again.
I almost always pick a 6-month or 12-month contract. I don’t like to go through this process too frequently because it does take time to negotiate and find a new supplier and because I don’t want to drive myself crazy with checking rates all the time. I have found negotiating one or twice a year to help us with cost savings.
How to Save Money on Gas and Electric
What If You Find a Better Deal Later?
Now it’s possible when it’s time to renegotiate a provider you won’t find a better deal. If you don’t mind a little legwork and research though, I think most of the time you are going to win when you do look into your utility pricing. You can lock in rates for a long period of time but I’ve only been looking at 6 or 12-month contracts as this feels most comfortable for me.
Companies are competing for your business and are willing to offer you a deal to get you to take their service. So for me, it feels like I already have an advantage on this playing field. Many service providers will also send you offers in the mail right before your contract is up for renewal, so pay attention to those mailings too.
A Note About Group Pricing
One last disclaimer, if you decide to sign up for group pricing with your neighborhood on utilities you cannot negotiate prices like this. You are then on a group plan and locked into that which can last a long time. In my neighborhood the plan was for 24-months and there was no guarantee on what my monthly price would be. Know what you are signing or not signing (declining to join) when these offers come along.
Save the Most on Utility Bills
Conclusion How to Save Money on Gas Heating
More information is on the Energy Choice Ohio website about how this process works. I really like how the information is public and easy to access, it just takes a little time to understand how the process works. I’m not affiliated with Energy Choice Ohio in any way. I simply enjoy saving money and wanted to share my experience with how to save money on gas and electricity bills.
Did you know you could negotiate your utility bills?
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.