The questions you should ask before you switch energy providers
So, you’re thinking of breaking up with your energy retailer. Or at least, thinking of asking them to spice things up with more affordable rates. We get it; you have mouths to feed, a future to plan for and you don’t want to spend all your money on a natural gas retailer that isn’t the best option in the market. I understand, but an energy contract can be a long-term commitment. If you’re really going to dump your current plan for another, you’ve got to ask the right questions so you can make sure that this one is right for you.
Seriously, signing your name on that dotted line is no joke, and you want to have as many questions answered going into negotiations so you can get the most affordable rate for your home or enterprise. There are many pros and cons to weigh for your energy needs and your budget.
For the past decades, Canadians in some provinces have had access to deregulated energy providers. A deregulated energy market just means that consumers have options to choose which energy provider they use and that there isn’t a default provider. Residents can choose their natural gas provider in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec. However, only in Alberta and Ontario can they select their electricity provider as well.
When is the best time to find a new energy supplier?
If you are under a contract with your current provider and your goal is to save money, you could wait and enjoy the end of the contract to research other options. Depending on your plan, early exit fees may cost more than you’ll save. It’s worth taking a look at the terms and conditions of your contract and evaluate the penalties of switching providers. As the term limits on your contract come to a close, research prices to see if it’s worth making the switch.
Quick note: If you’re currently with an RRO provider, you are not under the same contractual obligations as those with a competitive retailer.
Should I get a floating or fixed plan?
Don’t just think about prices in the short term. Remember, you’re going to have these contracts for more than just a month. If you haven’t already, take the time to learn more about the differences between fixed and floating energy rates. Then, you can figure out what you prioritize and choose based on that. In general, variable rates provide the lowest potential costs, whereas fixed rates provide predictability and financial certainty.
What do other customers say about the energy supplier?
Before signing a long-term contract, it’s essential to learn more about the supplier and their reputation among other customers, including online reviews. Have you heard any concerning horror stories from your neighbours about their utility bills? Does one company have too many disputes for you to feel comfortable signing to them? Humbly bragging, EnergyRates.ca is a trusted source for Canadians to learn more about some of the biggest energy companies and the best available energy rates in their area.
Will a new piece of legislation affect my energy bills?
You should keep an eye on the news for what your local government does regarding the energy market, and how it may affect your rates. Learn your rights, so you don’t fall financially vulnerable to energy scammers. There are plenty of official resources to help you learn and advocate for your rights and keep up with recent changes to regulation. Organizations such as UCA Helps, Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) (in Alberta) or the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) (in Ontario) are official agencies that you can trust to dispel any false information or take the next steps in any energy disputes.
What if an energy retailer fails to meet contractual obligations?
Most provinces have official agencies that regulate the energy market. These boards also serve to mediate and settle any disputes between consumers and energy retailers. Click here for a list of all provincial and territorial utility commissions and their contact information, as provided by the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA). For Saskatchewan residents, inquiries must be made to the minister responsible for the utility, as the province doesn’t have a public utilities commission or board.
Why should I compare natural gas and electricity prices?
Price comparison is an old yet helpful shopping technique. The more you compare rates, the higher your chances of finding the best energy deals in your area. Once you have a list of the main energy companies in your region, as well as their rates, you will be able to sign up with the one that best suits your energy needs. When you choose the first option handed to you without comparing rates, you’re reducing your chances of getting the best available deal out there.
If all these questions seem like a waste of time then, you may be paying erroneously for your utility bills. When it comes to cheap electricity in Canada, if you find yourself or a loved one bound for Alberta or Ontario, it helps to know how the different utility setup will affect your fixed budget costs and how they may be affected by market forces or regulations. On the other hand, as cheap natural gas in Canada can be negotiated countrywide, it helps to know what the most affordable rates for your utilities are, and how they arrived at that pricing.
How do I compare all my options?
To start, you could just use our energy rate comparison form above to compare your natural gas or electricity rates across Canada. We can assist both residential and commercial energy consumers in finding the best rates. Industrial enterprises, small businesses, small commercial businesses and large commercial facilities can even get a free custom quote based on their energy consumption.
Corporations that request our services can look forward to some of the following benefits:
- Custom quotes based on consumption.
- Corporate renewable energy plans.
- Advice to make smarter energy choices.
- Unbiased energy rate comparison.
- No charges, obligations or hidden fees.
The more questions you ask your potential energy supplier or energy broker, the greater prepared you will be to know your rights and protect yourself against scammers and settle any other issues that might come your way. After choosing your preferred retailer, remember to find out how they plan on contacting you so you’re never caught off-guard by disconnections or divulge private information to scammers. If your question wasn’t addressed here, read our EnergyRates.ca FAQ here for some of the most common energy-related queries in Canada.