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Part 1: So You’re Shopping for a Natural Gas Supplier

Shopping for a natural gas supplier is harder than it seems. First, how do you even find a supplier? Then, how do you know who is reputable? How do you know what prices are good? Are there any hidden fees or charges?

These are all great questions to ask when shopping for your home’s natural gas. My name is Seth and I’m writing this guide from Shipley Energy (we’re a supplier of electricity and natural gas) to help you whether or not you buy from us. We just want to make the whole process easier for you. Let’s jump in!

How do I find a supplier?

Fortunately for you, many states have created a regulated website. Pennsylvania and Ohio have great websites that we will use as examples – you can do research in your own state to find out if the government has created a shopping website geared towards natural gas suppliers.

Pennsylvania – PA Gas Switch Ohio – Apples to Apples

In tomorrow’s email, we will break down how to use these websites to filter and make good decisions from an insider’s perspective.

How do you know who is reputable?

This is where you really need to do your own research. You can start with the Better Business Bureau, then move to reviews on Google and Facebook, before diving into product offers. You want to choose a company who you agree with – who does business in an upright manner and who supports what you believe in. For you, this may mean choosing a local company, or it may mean picking a company with renewable energy offers.

You also want to know how they build their product offerings – if they have hidden or high monthly fees, large cancellation fees, or difficult contracts, you may not want to choose to do business with that company. Sometimes, monthly fees and cancellation charges are reasonable – businesses want to be sure they can work with you as a customer and expect you to stick with them. Just be careful, if it seems too good to be true, it might be! We will talk about evaluating offers in tomorrow’s email.

How do you know what prices are good?

Many of the state government websites publish what is called a Price to Compare (PTC). The PTC is the price you would pay if you choose to receive your natural gas supply from the utility company. This is the price you should compare against when choosing a supplier.

It’s just like shopping at the grocery store and choosing a product based on a lower price. However, there are reasons a company’s price may be higher – they provide you with additional benefits, like a Rewards Program, or a renewable energy source. These programs actually benefit you, so be sure to carefully weigh your options. You get what you pay for.

Are there any hidden fees or charges?

We’ve talked about them before and we will address how to evaluate offers tomorrow on PA Gas Switch and Apples to Apples. You should also be aware that energy suppliers need to provide you with clear terms and conditions regarding the offer. These must be formatted in such a way that reveal any charges. Look for links to terms and conditions when shopping and read them!

In Part 2 we will talk about how to evaluate offers by looking at:

  1. Price Structure – fixed or variable
  2. Term Length
  3. Price to compare
  4. Fees and charges
  5. Features and benefits

This has been part one of our three part series on How to Shop for Natural Gas for Your Home. 

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