If you’re not happy with your gas bill, you might be able to switch your natural gas supplier and get a better deal. Here’s what you need to know about comparing natural gas plans and making the switch.
Can I switch natural gas suppliers?
It depends on where you live. States like Florida and Georgia have regulated gas markets that don’t allow you to switch suppliers. Your local utility company manages both the production and delivery of natural gas to your home.
Deregulated states can choose their own energy supplier while your local utility company maintains the delivery infrastructure, including gas pipelines, to deliver natural gas to you. The following states have deregulated or partially deregulated gas markets:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
How simple is it to switch gas providers?
If you want to switch gas suppliers, check if you’re on a contract with your current provider. If you are, you may have to pay an early termination fee to switch.
Otherwise, all you need to do is the following:
- Find a new plan. Snag a better deal using our comparison engine to see what’s available.
- Contact your new supplier. Have your details on hand, including your address, bank details and account number to sign up. Your new supplier will handle the transition.
- Wait. After your next meter reading, you’ll receive a final bill from your old supplier with any outstanding fees included. Your gas account will then be switched over to your new provider. In most deregulated states, you’ll receive a bill from your utility company as usual, and your new supplier will be a line item on your invoice.
What is the average cost of gas in your state?
The average cost of natural gas for residential use was $10.66 per thousand cubic feet, or approximately $1.03 per therm, in April 2020. Two main factors that affect natural gas prices are supply and demand: Increased demand — especially during winter and summer — pushes prices up. Oversupply and availability of petroleum, a common fuel substitute for natural gas, generally drive prices down.
Here’s what the average price of gas costs in dollars per thousand cubic feet:
|State||Residential price as of October 2020 (dollars per thousand cubic feet)|
|District of Columbia||$16.93|
How to compare natural gas providers
If you’re in a deregulated state, compare natural gas plans to get a better deal. Here’s a list of what to look for:
- Check your previous bill. Have a copy of your latest gas bill handy to give you an idea of what you’ll pay on a new plan for the same general usage. Knowing how much gas you use monthly will let you know whether a new plan could help you save.
- Price. Look at rates, not estimated costs. Supply rates will be the majority of your bill, so if one plan has lower rates than another, you should end up paying less. Discounts can be temporary or conditional, so try not to rely on them when judging a plan.
- Fees. Aim for plans with fewer fees. Some charges might include paying by credit card and moving fees.
- Contracts. Some plans may lock you in for a set period of time and charge you early termination fees if you leave early. If the plan involves a discount you’re keen on, check whether it expires at the end of a benefit period — usually 12 to 36 months.
- New offers. Compare your plan every year, so when your current discount or fixed rate expires, you’re ready to take advantage of new offers.
- Customer service. Use a provider that’s easy to get into contact with and is available — even on the weekends.
- Website/app usability. Its site or app should be easy to navigate, pay bills and compare plans. Usage charts are also handy features so you can monitor your energy habits.
- Application process. Take a look at the signup process. Some providers take care of everything online, while others require a phone call.
- Financial hardship program. Some companies offer assistance in the form of payment plans or discounts if you’re struggling financially.
Key terms to understand when comparing gas
- Charges. Your natural gas plan will have two charges attached. The supply charge is how much you get charged for your actual usage per therm of energy. The delivery fee tells you how much you pay simply to be connected to the grid.
- Service rates. A flat rate is a single price for gas no matter when you use it. Some suppliers charge a time-of-use rate, which charges a different rate depending on when you use energy, such as peak times during the summer and winter months.
- Contract types. A contract can either be ongoing or have a benefit period. Ongoing contracts retain the same terms over time. Contracts with benefit periods will have their benefits and discounts expire once your benefit period is up.
How to reduce your gas usage
There are three main uses for gas in most households: cooking, heating and hot water.
Here are some tips to reduce your use with each of them if you’re using gas appliances.
This advice applies to gas ovens and cooktop stoves.
- Skip preheating. Since gas ovens heat up faster than electric versions, you might be able to skip the preheating. Simply turn it on when you need it.
- Check the seal. Ovens with loose seals may allow heat to escape when cooking. Change the seals and keep the door closed as much as possible.
- Tighter lids. Use tight-fitting lids to prevent heat from escaping from your pots and pans. More heat escaping means more wasted gas.
- Use the right cookware. Choose conductive cookware, such as copper or stainless steel, which heats up faster and distributes heat more evenly. And choose the right size pan for the job — or you’ll waste energy heating up a large pan.
- Prep before you cook. Have all your ingredients ready before you switch on your stove, including chopping vegetables and gathering your spices.
Although gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters, you can still lower your gas bill.
- Get the right heater. Figure out how much space you need to heat. Central heating is more efficient if you need to warm your whole house, but you can get a room heater if you’re worried about one main area.
- Choose a reasonable temperature. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re awake in the winter, and lower it by 7 to 10 degrees while you’re asleep or out of the house. In the summer, set the thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and raising the temperature whenever possible. You’ll save on energy, and you stand to save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.
- Buy a more efficient appliance. Not all gas heaters are the same. Buying a heater with a better efficiency rating can save you money in the long run, even if it costs more up front.
Here are a few tips to lower your gas consumption with your gas water heater.
- Insulation. Install insulated hot water pipes in your house to prevent heat loss.
- Water efficiency. Appliances have various water efficiency ratings. Higher hot water efficiency uses less water and requires less gas to heat.
- Lower the temperature. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Showering. Opt for shorter showers instead of deep soaks in a bath.
- Wash dishes efficiently. Wash full loads in the dishwater, and don’t let the water run while you’re scrubbing dishes.
How to read your natural gas bill
Your gas bill has a lot of information. Here are a few key sections to know and where to find them:
Top of your bill
- Basic information. This is a snapshot of your account, including the billing period, account number, address and amount due.
- Supply charge. This is how much you are charged per therm of gas multiplied by your total usage for the billing period. Your total usage is the difference between your current meter reading and your meter reading at your last bill.
- Delivery charge. This is the amount you pay for being connected to the gas network. You may also see a breakdown of peak and off-peak distribution charges.
- Other charges. Sales tax and other fees.
- Past usage. A graph that shows how much gas you’ve consumed in the past year and how it compares to the same time last year.
What is natural gas?
Natural gas is a fossil fuel used as an energy source for heating, cooking and electricity. It’s generated from organic matter from buried plants or animals. Heat and pressure over hundreds of millions of years compressed these organic chemicals to form inorganic fuels, which are then burned to produce energy.
Natural gas releases about half of the carbon that burning coal releases. However, it isn’t as good for the environment as green energy like solar, wind and hydropower.
If you think you’re paying too much for your gas service, take a look at your recent bills to identify trends, rates and usage. What you learn could help give you the information you need to shop around for another provider that’ll give you a better plan.
Or, you can see how your usage affects your bill so you can alter your habits to bring the costs down. Either way, a careful energy comparison can bring big money-saving changes.
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