History of Electricity Deregulation in Ohio
Right before the turn of the 21st century, Ohioans learned that they could anticipate marked changes in their energy options. For many years previous, the energy market had been tightly controlled by eight major players. Then, with the passing of Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), residents of Ohio found themselves with growing energy choice and a deregulated energy market. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) took a stronger role in representing consumers and together with the legislature enacted SB 3.
One of the main components of the bill was to deregulate the energy industry by dividing it up. Instead of one utility controlling the generation, distribution and provision of utilities, four main components now had to work together to get energy to consumers: incumbent utilities (wire and pole companies), marketers (providers selling energy to consumers), brokers/aggregators and government aggregators. Even with choice, consumers were reluctant to switch providers so that smaller providers could grow in the competitive market.
Again, PUCO stepped in to advocate for consumers, and after some years of transition, Ohioans began to take advantage of growing competition among providers. For those who did not actively choose a provider, a bill in 2008(SB 221) required incumbent providers to offer a Standard Service Option (SSO) which functions as a default option with good rates. Today, many Ohioans have compared rates and switched energy providers to save money. Some of the largest utility companies in the state like Duke Energy, Ohio Edison and the Illuminating Company, provide “price to compare”, making energy rate comparison a simple process.
Ways You Can Save on Energy Bill
1. Compare energy rates and switch if it makes sense.
If your utility bill continues to rise, a couple of simple steps can help you to determine if you should switch. You can locate two items on your bill: your supplier’s generation price (shown in kw/hour) and a listed “price to compare.” Then, use that information to compare energy suppliers in Ohio and determine answers to relevant questions such as, “Is the price variable or fixed?” and “What kind of contracts do you offer?” and “Do you offer budget billing?” Once you’ve found a supplier that is a good fit for your situation, read and sign a contract with that supplier. Then, the supplier notifies the utility company who then sends you confirmation of your account. At that point, you have seven days to cancel the contract if you desire.
2. Unplug electrical items when not in use.
The U. S. Department of Energy estimates that in the average American household, between 5% and 10% of overall energy is gobbled up by items that are plugged in all day, every day. Of course, some electrical items you don’t want to unplug due to their regular use, but you may save some cash if you unplug others. Some to consider are desktop computer monitors, chargers for devices and televisions. If you, like many, don’t want the hassle of unplugging, simply use a power cord with a switch or timer to take care of easily turning items back on.
3. Take care of filters regularly.
Some filters require good cleaning and maintenance, but others just need to be changed regularly. You want all of your systems functioning optimally, and good filters are part of that process. You want the pumps on your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump and drinking water source to affect both your health and your wallet in a positive way.
4. Check your home’s insulation.
To keep warmer in winter and cooler in summer, you need good insulation. Whether that involves extra layers in the attic or walls, insulation around your water heater or just a better seal around drafty windows and doors, small fixes can end up saving you a bundle in energy costs.
5. Adjust water and air temperatures.
First, check the water temperature of your water heater. Most homes are perfectly fine with water temps around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If yours is higher than that, you may want to adjust it for some savings. Air temperatures can be a touch subject, especially when more than one person lives in the home. However, adjusting several degrees can make a huge difference in energy costs.
6. Install solar panels.
Yes, this is initially a pricey investment, but in the long run you can significantly reduce your energy bill. Also, in some areas, government incentives and subsidies help defray high initial costs.
Finally, you CAN take control of your energy costs with a few simple changes, one of the biggest being the choice to compare energy rates, evaluate your usage and switch to the best supplier available for your specific needs.