The Public Utility Commission Wednesday offered consumers a “Top Five” list of Black Friday tips for energy savings and shopping:
-- Shopping for Energy: The PUC recommends that consumers regularly review their contracts and bills from electric and natural gas suppliers in order to be familiar with key factors like pricing, term length and fees, including monthly fees and cancellation fees.
With current price and consumption information in hand (more information below), consumers can visit the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com websites for detailed information about offers from various energy suppliers.
The Commission also encourages consumers to discuss energy issues with family members, especially relatives who may be older, may not have Internet access or may be initially uncomfortable with shopping for alternate electric or natural gas supply.
-- Conservation and Energy Efficiency: Consumers should review their monthly bills to better understand their actual energy usage. That information can help evaluate the potential savings related to conservation and efficiency projects, such as switching to LED lighting, weatherization, programmable thermostats and other improvements.
Conservation and efficiency steps undertaken now can help save money and provide greater comfort and safety during the coldest and darkest months of the year.
The PUC’s PAPowerSwitch and PAGasSwitch websites also include interactive tips and videos explaining ways to conserve energy, save money and stay more comfortable during the winter or summer.
-- Ask For Assistance: Information about various energy assistance programs also is available on the PUC’s website, as part of the Commission’s annual “Prepare Now” campaign. Consumers on limited or fixed incomes are encouraged to call their utility company about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills, such as Customer Assistance Programs and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs.
Other aid also may be available, such as grants under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – which is administered by the Department of Human Services.
-- Monitor Energy Bills: Consumers should carefully monitor their monthly utility bills, along with the financial accounts used for bill payment. Any questions or concerns about pricing, payment processing, meter readings or changes in energy consumption should be raised with utilities as soon as possible.
-- Report Problems: The PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services is available to help consumers resolve disputes with utilities, but it is important that any potential issue be immediately brought to the attention of the utility. In most cases issues are quickly resolved – but more challenging problems may require intervention through the informal or formal complaint process. The Bureau of Consumer Services can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.For more information, visit the PUC’s Prepare Now, PAPowerSwitch and PAGasSwitch websites.