Setting Up Electricity and Natural Gas Services
Sooner or later, you’ll likely find yourself searching the internet to figure out how to set up utilities in Canada, whether electricity or natural gas. Trust us when we tell you you’re are not alone. Every day, plenty of Canadians ask themselves the same question. This is partly because Canada’s energy market has some peculiarities that make arranging residential utilities seem somewhat a complex task.
But don’t be discouraged. Once you find out how the energy market works in your province, you will be able to search energy providers and set up your electricity and gas service. If you need help along the way, we’ve got you covered with some simple steps to easily find the best suppliers and the cheapest energy rates in your area. Here’s a step-by-step guide for both old and new customers.
How does the energy market work in Canada?
First of all, it’s important to know the energy markets in Canada can be regulated or deregulated.
Regulated markets are managed by the provinces and aim to protect consumers and guarantee fair rates that serve the public interest. According to the Ontario Energy Board, regulated markets set gas and electricity prices, monitor the performance of energy utilities, provide consumers with information to understand energy, and develop regulatory policy to meet emerging energy trends and challenges.
In deregulated markets, the public interest is also the main concern, but that is achieved through competition between retail providers. In provinces where energy is deregulated, the strategy is to enhance quality, quantity and prices as companies compete for more customers. When there are many competitors, energy providers have to find ways (including lowering their prices) to offer consumers the best deals they can.
Alberta is the least-regulated energy market in Canada, with around 40 percent of consumers opting for competitive products, according to Direct Energy. Since 1985, the province has been improving its deregulated market. If you live in Edmonton or Calgary, for example, you can choose between many retailers — such as ATCO Energy, Enmax Energy and Just Energy — to look for rates that may fit your pocket.
Still, consumers in deregulated markets can choose the regulated option. In Alberta, the Alberta Utilities Commission (UCA) approves rate-setting plans so regulated retailers can buy electricity from energy generators months in advance, which makes prices more stable.
Deregulation or regulation, however, works as a scale. Markets don’t need to be totally regulated or totally deregulated. British Columbia serves as an interesting example. The province has regulated electricity while natural gas is deregulated. People there find BC Hydro as the main electricity provider, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). Whereas, consumers looking for natural gas providers can choose between at least five retailers.
Energy rates near me: How to set up electricity and gas in Canada
The starting point is to find out if you live in a regulated or deregulated province and then take a look at the options you have. At EnergyRates.ca, you can learn more about the energy markets and the main utility providers in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba.
Once you know your options, you can start to search their rates and calculate what your bill is going to look like. Most suppliers have utilities estimators on their websites, through which you can get detailed information about billing, monthly costs and additional charges. Canada electricity rates, as well as natural gas rates, can be affected by several factors.
What to look for when moving to a new home
Moving to a new apartment or house is a nice opportunity to review your choices and have energy for less. Even if you were satisfied with your energy bills at your previous home, the address change serves as a chance for you to make an energy rates comparison.
It may seem more practical to keep your utility supplier and not have to worry about finding a new one. However, an energy review will allow you to find the best energy provider for your new place, and perhaps save you a lot of money in the long term.
Compare energy rates and get your energy for less
“How do I find energy rates near me?” Now that you know what are the options in your province you must be wondering how to compare natural gas and electricity costs in Canada.
To solve the good old prices question, EnergyRates.ca can be the answer. The website is Canada’s largest unbiased energy rates comparison tool, and lists all retailer electricity and natural gas options for each deregulated Canadian market. Users just need to fill in their postal codes to compare the cheapest energy rates from utility providers available in their areas, be it residential, small business, commercial or industrial.
For example, if you need to compare electricity rates in Alberta, this online tool will do the hard work for you, and gather all low-cost options in one single page. Whether you are looking for fixed, variable or regulated rates, it will take only a few steps to find the best plan. All you need to do is type in your postal code and see what are the best rates for your location. It’s possible to even go beyond prices and select retailers according to their cancellation policy or site administration fees. Commercial, business and industrial users can even get a free custom energy quote based on their electricity and natural gas usage.
Where can I shop for utilities in Canada?
Provinces with deregulated natural gas options:
Provinces with deregulated electricity options:
Depending on where you live, as well as the regulation in your area, your options for utilities in Canada vary. In most Canadian municipalities, utilities like water and sewer will be provided by the municipality or a designated default company. However, that doesn’t necessarily hold true for natural gas and electricity.
You can refer to the table above to see if electricity and natural gas are regulated or deregulated in your province. On a rough note, regulated means that you’re unable to select your provider for that utility while deregulated means that you can choose to either select a retailer or go with your local utility. You can click on the province links in the above chart to learn more about electricity and natural gas in each one of them.
Choosing how you buy your energy
Taking some time to review how you purchase energy can help you reduce the amount of money you spend on energy bills per month. For example, did you know that over the course of several years, you could potentially either save or lose thousands of dollars depending on your decisions and the energy providers you’ve signed up with?
Choosing a retailer can often be beneficial (as opposed to going with the default local utility). One pro is cost predictability. If you choose a retailer that provides a fixed-rate plan, for example, you’ll know the exact amount you’re paying for energy each month. That makes budgeting a lot easier.
Something else to consider is that getting your natural gas and electricity provided by a retailer can often be cheaper than a regulated plan. The reason for this is that retailers compete with one another to provide the best plans and energy rates to consumers. The pricing of regulated rate plans, on the other hand, is decided by independent agencies (for example, the Alberta Utilities Commission or the Ontario Energy Board) and aren’t always necessarily as low as the competitive rates.
If you happen to purchase your natural gas and electricity from the same retailer, you may be able to bundle your services and save money. Promotional rates and other bonuses such as gift cards are often available from some retailers to encourage you to bundle your rates together. You’ll also be able to spend less time figuring out your energy bills if they’re combined into a single bill from bundling.
Saving money isn’t the only benefit from choosing how you buy your energy – you can also make a positive environmental impact. Some retailers provide you with clean energy options that regulated rate plans may not offer.
Alberta and Ontario energy providers comparison
Since both the electricity and natural gas markets are deregulated in Alberta and Ontario, it’s possible for you to compare both electricity and natural gas rates in these two provinces.
Since both natural gas and electricity are deregulated, there are a wide array of retailers to choose from in Alberta and Ontario when it comes to these utilities.
For example, AltaGas, ATCO Power, ATCOenergy, Direct Energy Business, ENMAX Energy, Hudson Energy, Just Energy, Link Energy, Superior Energy and TransAlta are some of the electricity and natural gas retailers available in Alberta.
Choosing your natural gas provider in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Québec
Unlike in Alberta and Ontario, only the natural gas market is deregulated in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. As such, you’re only able to compare natural gas rates between retailers in these provinces.
Regulated natural gas providers include FortisBC / Terasen Gas in British Columbia.
How to set up natural gas and electricity: Step by step
- Find out how the energy market in your province works. Is it deregulated or regulated?
- If it’s regulated, contact the regulated electricity and/or natural gas provider in your area.
- If it’s deregulated, compare energy suppliers, their plans and rates here.
- After reviewing your energy options, select the one that fits your energy needs and sign up for a new plan.
How can I find the best energy provider according to my energy use?
First of all, you need to take a look at Canada’s natural gas and electricity rates. One of the best ways to find the best energy provider for yourself is to compare plans from all the available providers in your region. You’ll have a better chance of finding a great deal by comparing. Tools like EnergyRates.ca can help you compare electricity and natural gas rates in Canada, and save as much as possible on energy bills.
Other than looking for the lowest cost energy plan available, you should also consider what will save you the most money in the long run. For example, provinces like Alberta have historically low natural gas prices. So, it would make sense to prioritize natural gas for heating over electricity. On the other hand, some provinces, like British Columbia and Quebec, have historically cheap electricity prices, so the opposite would apply.
In summary, it’s important to pay attention to both commodities (natural gas and electricity), considering not only the rates at the time of purchase, but also historical energy prices in your location.
Natural gas and electricity prices in Canada
Natural gas and electricity prices can be affected by a variety of things, whether it’s environmental issues or political decisions. So, when you sign up with a competitive energy retailer, it’s important to figure out which plan is the best one for you.
Fixed-rate plans enable you to lock in energy prices for a set period of time (often one, three or five years). Thus, these fixed plans offer you stability and allow you to budget more efficiently. Such plans are ideal for customers who want to protect their bills from sudden rate increases or other unexpected costs.
On the other hand, floating-rate plans charge based on the current market conditions for electricity or natural gas. Floating rate plans allow you to take advantage of low electricity and natural gas prices as they occur, unlike fixed-rate plans. However, you also risk paying more when the market prices of natural gas and electricity spike if you have a floating rate plan.
If you choose not to purchase your energy from a competitive retailer, you’ll be provided electricity and gas from the local utility. Regulated rate plans are somewhat similar to floating-rate plans, except that an independent agency determines the energy rate paid based on the current market conditions. With floating rate plans, retailers have more freedom to set energy rates as they wish.
Why is it worth it comparing energy rates and looking for better energy deals?
By comparing energy rates and looking for better energy deals on a regular basis, you have higher chances of securing lower energy bills and having a more predictable budget in the long term. Depending on how much you save on energy per year, this could result in more money to reinvest into energy-saving efforts, such as energy-efficient appliances or home upgrades.
Many of us don’t realize it, but utilities are a significant part of a home’s or business’ costs. The average Canadian household spends around $2,484 on natural gas and electricity bills annually, says a 2017 Statistics Canada Report.
Also, according to LSI energy, rising energy prices have adversely affected the growth of a significant proportion of small businesses in the United Kingdom.
Taking the time to compare the energy rates of the providers around you every so often can save you a significant amount on your energy bills and take a huge weight off your budget.
To learn more about it, go to EnergyRates.ca, fill in your postal, and check all of the available electricity and natural gas providers in your location, whether you’re a residential, business, small commercial, large commercial or industrial energy consumer.