How New Energy Consumers Should Consider Their Options

Flat vector illustration is showing alternative clean energy sources: hydro energy, wind energy, geothermal energy and solar energy. Nicely layered.
VPR Vermont edition renewable energy hydro power illustration. iStock DrAfter123-20180828

Due to declining wholesale energy rates, the market may soon see a limited number of fixed packages being reintroduced by some suppliers. It is challenging to determine whether selecting one over continuing with a conventional variable tariff would save you money in the long run, however, due to the market’s constant change.

When deciding what to do, it’s crucial to weigh your alternatives thoroughly and remain current on energy market news. Comparing power costs may be difficult, especially for new energy consumers considering options. 


Knowing your alternatives is essential before selecting an energy plan. Both fixed-rate and variable-rate plans could be available from your power provider. With a fixed-rate energy plan, the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is fixed for the duration of your agreement. Therefore, your energy rate won’t change even if market prices do.

It is simpler for you to budget your monthly energy expenses when there is a defined fee. However, a fixed-rate plan only ensures that your electricity payment will remain constant. The per-kilowatt-hour pricing is still in effect. Therefore, the energy you consume monthly and any additional utility costs will determine your monthly bill.

With a variable-rate plan, the retail energy supplier may use the market or other variables to determine how much you will pay per kilowatt-hour. Your prices might fluctuate since the market price of power is subject to rapid adjustment. In times of falling market values, this may be advantageous.

A variable-rate plan may become expensive when variables like high temperatures or greater demand cause energy prices to rise. Energy plans with variable rates might be challenging. Some people may begin with a lower fixed rate for a month or two before switching to a higher variable rate.

For this reason, before selecting any energy plan, it’s crucial to read the fine print thoroughly.


The price of home heating fuel is an essential consideration for many homeowners. If you compare different options, you can save money. One option is to switch to another gas supplier or tariff. It can reduce your energy bill, especially in winter.

You can use a simple online tool to see the latest prices in your area.  When comparing gas prices, it’s essential to know what each supplier charges per therm of natural gas. This figure is included in your total energy cost, which consists of a standing charge and your consumption.

A therm is the amount of gas used to heat your home. It is a standard measurement of energy usage in the United States. In deregulated markets, you can choose your energy provider. It allows you to get low gas rates from trusted suppliers.

The official state initiative, Apples to Apples Ohio, aims to increase consumer knowledge of power provider alternatives and energy deregulation in Ohio. It is an excellent option for customers tired of paying high energy rates from their utility company.


Whether you are looking for cheap energy rates or green energy, various options are available to meet your needs. Energy comparison sites allow consumers to find the best deals and sign up with trusted providers. These sites offer home heating calculations, supplier information, and home energy savings calculators.

Using these tools can save you hundreds of dollars annually on energy costs. The most important thing to remember when comparing energy prices is that different types of energy have various price schemes.

For example, electricity and natural gas are priced in dollars per end-use unit (Btu’s, MCF, therm, or kWh). The dollar per pound or ton bills solid fuels such as coal and wood. Fortunately, most of these energy end-use units are easily converted into a standard format for comparison.

The next item to consider when comparing energy prices is equipment efficiency. Using energy-efficient equipment will save you money, especially during peak hours. Also, contracts that reward off-peak usage can reduce your overall energy costs.

Lastly, review the terms and conditions of any contract you are considering. It will help you decide if the plan is right for you and your family. If not, consider considering your choice. Ultimately, you will be happy that you took the time to shop around for the lowest energy rates in your area.


In states with deregulated energy choices, customers can choose their energy provider from various competitive suppliers certified by the Public Utilities Commission. This competition helps to keep energy costs low, improve service and spark innovation.

However, this competition also brings new risks and concerns that must be addressed. These risk factors apply to both electricity and gas. 


Taking the time to compare energy prices may not have as much sex appeal as shopping for televisions or new electronics, but it’s insurance against paying too much on your energy bills.

It’s best to compare your options every 12-18 months or whenever a fixed energy plan expires. Switching in autumn’s also a good idea so you’re not rolled onto your supplier’s default tariff during winter.

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Steven Weissman
I grew up working on my family's small farm in western New York state. We did a lot of projects ourselves, which taught me not to be intimidated by DIY projects. So now I like to write about DIY topics to help others gain confidence to try to do things on their own.