I often see jaws drop when I am invited to speak about energy costs and I confidently state, “Your best ally for saving on energy costs is your utility provider.”
People often see the utility company as the “bad guy”, the large behemoth, sending them an unbelievably large bill every month and then gobbling up their hard-earned dollars.
This is simply not true. I’ll use my utility company, Ameren Illinois, as my example and show you exactly how to utilize your energy provider’s website as a money-saving tool!
There are six ways your energy company website can help you begin saving on energy costs today!
1. An On-line Account
Why in the world would I want to set up an on-line account with my utility company?
Because it is absolutely the first (and best) way you can get information on your energy usage. You can mine your personal account to track how much you paid each month, the average temperature, and daily energy usage.
In addition, you can track your usage on a daily basis! That’s right,if you are deliberately instituting some new habits (like hanging clothes out on the line rather than using a conventional dryer), you can quickly and easily see if your strategies are reducing your usage and resulting in a lower final bill each month.
I love the instant gratification and the ability to know if my changes in energy habits are making a difference in my monthly bill.
2. Energy Savings Tips and Tools
Most energy companies have a section on their website dedicated to helping customers save on energy. Just look for the tab and then click on “home” or “business”.
You’ll often see tips arranged by date, season, and situation. You’ll also find testimonials from customers.
The best part of this section is the interactive tools.
You start by filling out an energy profile, designating your home’s square footage, construction date, types of heating and cooling used, and kinds of appliances you own. Basically, they are analyzing how you use your space and the energy efficiency of your current systems.
After the forms are completed, then the magic happens. You will be presented with a whole host of energy-saving suggestions and options. They list the average cost of any additional equipment, upgrades, or changes in usage you might want to consider and how much each will save you yearly. You immediately get to see money-saving options that you can then prioritize based on your budget and how much money each action will save you. Some are easy, while others will take time and money.
Click, read, research, and then implement. Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime and could save you a pretty penny!
I was recently a savings expert guest for a webinar with my utility company.
As a customer, I provided examples of strategies which I have actually implemented in my own home, showing exactly how they worked and how much money I saved by using each tip.
Check your utility company website for webinars and testimonials not only from industry experts, but also from actual customers, like me.
Alerts vary by location and season. Your utility company may send you a text notification of a power outage or a severe storm warning.
However, they may also offer a host of other free-of-charge alerts.
I gather all the information I can find on my utility company website, make projections (based on how much I’d like to try to lower my energy usage) and then set the alerts based on those goals.
For instance, if our average electric usage is $150 in August, I will set my cost threshold at $135. If I don’t hear from my utility company, then I know that I have reached my goal.
Weekly cost summaries tell me how many days are left in the billing cycle, the current amount of my bill, and an estimated total. When you are tracking every penny, this is invaluable information.
To use this tool effectively, I also review my daily usage from twelve months prior to determine a savings goal of ten percent, and set the alerts to reflect this amount. Once again, if I don’t get a text alert, then know that I am at least meeting that benchmark.
In thirty days, when I get my next bill, I compare, set new goals, and readjust the alert threshold.
Alerts are a fantastic way to try out new savings strategies and have a (close to) real time idea if they are lowering your energy usage.
5. Special Programs
There is nothing better than free money. My energy provider offers exactly this when you sign up for Peak Time Rewards.
During hot, summer days, when the heat and humidity combine, producing a strain on the grid, they will call or send a text, telling me that this is a Peak Rewards Day.
When I reduce my energy usage during certain hours (usually in the middle of the afternoon) they reward me with a discount on my next bill.
That’s cold, hard cash and the program is free of charge!
Rebates are real money and utility companies generally offer rebates on energy saving items such as thermostats, LED lightbulbs, power strips, and Energy Star appliances.
If you meet maximum income guidelines, you may also be eligible for free products or services.
Available rebates change often. So, you need to periodically check this section of your utility company website.