Generally speaking, we compare products when shopping. We look for the cheapest, greenest, most socially responsible options we can find. It’s quite common for us to do this when it comes to food, clothing, electronics, and even cars. However, there’s one huge expense we pay for regularly without even thinking (or hardly thinking), and I think it’s more common than not to never compare our options in this arena. What am I referring to? Energy!
When’s the last time you compared energy providers? (Did you even know you had a choice in energy providers?)
In some places, perhaps you don’t have a choice. But in many places, you do. One country, in particular, where I know that you really have a bit of choice is the UK.
What’s It Matter Who You Get Your Energy From?
There are a handful of reasons why you should care who you’re getting your energy from.
1. Different energy providers have different energy portfolios. In other words, some get the bulk of their energy from coal and nuclear, while some have put their money (and yours) on clean, renewable energy. If you truly want to help protect us from societal suicide, going with clean energy is a must (it probably accounts for about 1/3 of your carbon emissions if you haven’t switched to clean energy).
2. Different energy providers have different rates. You want the cheapest electricity you can get? Then compare electricity providers.Also, notably, some providers may offer “time of use” (TOU) pricing, making electricity during peak hours (i.e. the late day / early evening) much more expensive than off-peak hours (i.e. middle of the night). And even different utilities offering TOU pricing can offer very different tiers. If you are smart with your energy use and getting energy from a supplier who uses TOU pricing, you can save mad money by simply using energy off peak instead of during peak hours (i.e. running your dishwasher, washing, dryer at night; charging your EV at night; etc.) Notably, using electricity off peak is also a win for the environment and climate. So, there’s a win-win there.
3. Some energy providers give you the opportunity to pay a little bit more for clean energy (not that clean energy is always more expensive — in many places, wind energy is the cheapest option for new electricity). If you want your energy supply to be as green as possible but can’t yet install solar panels on your home, this is a pretty good option… if you’ve got an energy provider who offers it!
Businesses Aren’t Exempt!
Of course, it’s not just individuals who generate greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution — businesses are responsible for a ton (or, more accurately, many tons) of it. Have a business and not sure where your energy provider is getting its energy? or not sure who its competitors are and what they offer? Perhaps it’s time to check that out.
For a little help, I know that UK businesses can talk to Energy Helpline about switching energy providers. Drop us a note if you know of a similar service in the US!
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.