Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ask Dr. Green: Shopping for electricity

Dr. Green, one of my New Years' resolutions is to save money,but it's getting tougher with the price of electricity going up. I want to shop for electricity, but I don't quite understand what to do. What does it even mean to switch electricity suppliers? What benefit do I get from shopping?

Ask Dr. Green: Shopping for electricity


Question: Dr. Green, one of my New Years’ resolutions is to save money,but it’s getting tougher with the price of electricity going up. I want to shop for electricity, but I don’t quite understand what to do. What does it even mean to switch electricity suppliers? What benefit do I get from shopping?

Answer: Shopping for electricity is actually pretty easy once you understand the basics.  The good news is that very real savings of 10% to 20% are available to all PECO customers.

The first step is to understand how electricity is sold. Electricity services are divided into three parts: distribution, transmission, and generation: distribution includes the delivery of power to the user; transmission connects the local network to the power plants, and generation is the production of electricity. For years, PECO has done all three. PECO would generate the electricity, transmit it to the local level, and then deliver it to the user.

The restructuring of electricity markets means that you can choose who you want to generate your electricity. PECO is still responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity.   You’ll still get a PECO bill, but if you chose a different supplier, that company and its charges will be shown on your monthly PECO bill., It’s very easy to switch, and it will be even easier to pay your bill—both because the cost of electricity is lower and because you can pay your supplier through your PECO bill. PECO will still generate power for those customers who do not choose a different supplier, but PECO’s rates are higher than nearly every other option and even PECO is urging its customers to shop.

Visit to see a comparison of all the suppliers operating in the area. There are a whole host of suppliers to choose from and they offer specific terms, including fixed or variable rates, renewable energy options, cancellation fees, and some even have promotions to sign up. While you should decide which supplier is right for you, you can’t take advantage of electric choice unless you shop. Don’t be left behind when everybody in the state can pay less for the same service. Remember to shop—doctor’s orders.

With electricity prices going up in the long run, you’re wise to ask how long the savings will last. Sure, you’ll pay less for a little while, but the best way to translate your one-time savings into sustained benefits is to invest in energy efficiency. Improving the efficiency of your home will help you lower your bills through conservation. If you use less energy, your bills will be even lower—regardless of your supplier or their prices. In addition, savings from shopping for your electricity supplier only help you on your electric bill, but basic measures like air sealing and insulation will help you save on any non-electric heating bills you might have. To learn more about tax credits, low-interest loans, and quality contractors that can help you invest in energy efficiency, visit

One in three Americans resolved to save money in 2011, but smart consumers should resolve to save money in 2011 and beyond. Electricity shopping gives you a chance to translate one-time savings into permanent benefits that will lower all your utility bills.

Happy 2011!

See more of Earth to Philly's Q&A with ECA series.

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Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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