Utilities are a major component of our expenses. On average, up to 10% of household expenses go to utility bills. How to save money on utilities? There are many ways to lower costs, such as setting an effective budget, using small gadgets to save energy, making sure your house is airtight, etc. Do you know you may be able to save more by negotiating prices with utility companies? Here’s how I reduced my utility expenses by making two phone calls.
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First Phone Call
Since I spend a significant amount of time working from home, fast-speed Internet is a must-have. When we moved to our new house, we did not find the best deal at that time, so we went with the plan that offered fastest download speed with up to 100 Mbps.
While I was satisfied with the Internet speed and the overall services, I believed we should be able to lower the cost of the Internet. I regularly searched for Internet deals and promotions. A few weeks ago, I noticed the Internet vender we were using added a promotion for their monthly plan, which was $30 lower than what we were paying.
I made a phone call to their customer service and asked whether we could switch to their current plan. The customer service representative was very friendly. He explained that the $29.99 monthly plan was for download speed up to 10 Mbps, which may not meet our needs for heavy Internet use such as video streaming. However, he would be glad to offer us another promotion plan that cut costs by $20 for the same Internet speed we were having. That’s $240 saving per year, and we still get exactly the same services.
Second Phone Call
When an electric bill arrives, many people just look at the monthly charges and make sure to make the payment on time. Don’t stop there. Review more details. That’s how I found ways to lower my electricity cost.
Electric bill is complicated, with two parts of changes: electric charges and supply charges. The electric charges are based on our daily and hourly energy usage, charging in cents per kilowatt-hour. While supply changes (also known as transmission service charge) is to allow the utility to recover costs associated with transmission services.
Last month, when I reviewed my electric bill, I noticed that it was $8 higher than the previous month. That was still within the normal range, but it raised a red flag when I saw that our monthly electricity use went down that month. Why we got a higher bill when we used less energy? After comparing it to the previous month electric bill, we realized the supply charge rate increased significantly from $0.08 to $0.12 per KWH. That was 50% increase.
After more research, we found some other energy suppliers offer a rate that was even lower than our original price. I decided to make a phone call to our vendor and ask them to cancel the service. The representative was very patient. He first tried to understand our situation and explained the reason for a rate increase. We did not know that our fixed electrical rate expired from last month, so we were charged at variable rate automatically which is a 50% hike from the fixed rate. For some reason, we did not get their expiration notice.
He agreed that the rate $0.12 was too high. The company would like to keep us as their customer by offering $50 prepaid Visa gift card plus switching me from variable rate plan to a much cheaper 9-month fixed rate plan. The new offer sounded even better than the other vendor I was planning to switch to. I was happy to stay with them for at least another nine months. This phone call helped me save $0.05 per KWH. Given the same electricity usage per month, $0.05 per KWH difference can save us about $220 per year. Plus $50 Visa prepaid card, I saved $270.
In total, I saved over $500 on utilities per year just by making two simple phone calls. The key is being mindful of what you are paying for and negotiating with utility companies to get better deals. Check your utility bills, do your research, and give utility providers a call to see whether they can help you to reduce expenses. You never know what you can get.
Want more tips on how to save money on utilities? Download the 3-page tip sheet.