Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What You Need to Know About Energy Deregulation

With large winter heating bills looming ahead of homeowners in much of the country, this is the time of year when many people get serious about scouring their electric bills and trying to conserve energy in their homes. But if you’re one of those homeowners looking for savings, energy deregulation may offer you an easier way to lower your monthly bills. Since you may not be familiar with energy deregulation, here’s an overview and the answers to four of the most frequently asked questions on the topic:
  1. How Does Energy Deregulation Work? Essentially, energy deregulation breaks up the monopoly of public utility companies by dividing energy generation from energy distribution. This means that instead of your utility company deciding which electricity companies to buy power from, you can choose an alternative electric (or gas, in some places) supplier. The power from the company of your choice is still delivered along regular utility lines. The process of deregulation started back in the 1970s, when the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act created a structure for alternative power suppliers. But the movement didn’t really take off until 1992 with the Energy Policy Act. The progression of energy deregulation is gaining momentum even now.
  2. Would I Experience Service Interruptions?
    No, there are no interruptions when you switch providers. Because the energy is still delivered to your home through the regular local utility company, you’ll experience no change in your service whatsoever.
  3. What Are the Benefits of Deregulation and Choosing Your Own Energy Provider?
    The purpose of deregulation is to provide consumers with choice and the power to choose.  Instead of having regulated rates, you can choose a company based on the rates it offers.
    Some states have had more success than others with deregulation, which is why much of the debate surrounding the issue isn’t whether deregulation should take place, but rather how it should be structured. Deregulation gives you the chance to support energy companies who have values and business models you agree with. You can learn more about the green energy initiatives some companies have in place, or even research their charitable and community contributions

  4. Where Is Energy Deregulation in Effect?Deregulation takes place state by state; some states offer supplier choices for electricity, gas or both. There’s a cluster of deregulated states in the Northeast and around the country, but the easiest thing to do is either search online for more information about deregulation where you live or simply contact your local utility company to ask if you have a choice between producers.
Do you have any more questions about alternative electricity companies or energy deregulation in general? Ask or share your perspective in the comments.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 Ways to Save Energy Without Lifestyle Inconveniences

With energy costs and environmental concerns rising side by side, trying to use
green energy sources and promoting overall energy conservation are no-brainers. In
some cases, this might require some moderate sacrifice when it comes to
conveniences, such as turning lights off every time you leave the room, or unplugging small devices (such as coffee makers) when they’re not in use. But often, the biggest savings require almost no lifestyle changes whatsoever. Here are three such ways to help the planet and lower your monthly bills:

  1. Get a Programmable Thermostat- Programmable thermostats can contribute to a 10% annual savings on heating and cooling costs in the average household -- without you having to sacrifice any comfort when you’re at home. These thermostats -- most of which are easy enough to install by yourself -- can hold multiple profiles, so you won’t even have to make manual changes based on whether it’s a weekday (when no one is home for quite a few hours in the middle of the day) or a weekend (when you might want it a little warmer or cooler to keep it comfortable all day long). If you really want the latest in technical improvements, you can even get a thermostat that connects to your smartphone. This will allow you to make adjustments to your preset profiles no matter where you are.
  2. Buy New Appliances- If you’ve been trying to save money by getting along with your old appliances, your efforts may actually be counterproductive: The average refrigerator sold today costs 60% less than its 1975 counterpart and uses 75% less energy. That means a moderate investment can save you big time on your electricity bill. And as a bonus, today’s refrigerators have about 20% more capacity, on average, which can allow you to get rid of that extra fridge or freezer.
  3. Green Energy Providers- You may be living in a deregulated energy market and not even know it. You may even be wondering what energy deregulation is. Essentially, deregulation has divided the production of energy from the distribution of energy, breaking up utility company monopolies. This means you can choose from alternative electricity suppliers even though your utility company stays the same. Often, these alternative companies focus on renewable energy sources, so you may be able to make better choices about where your electricity comes from and promote green energy without any noticeable difference in your service. Contact your electricity provider to find out what options may be available for you.
Do you have any more easy energy solutions to share? Join the discussion in the comments.