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Things to Keep in Mind while Choosing a Natural Gas Supplier

Going in for a natural gas supplier that offers services at the best price can help minimize your monthly utility expenses. However, you must tread with caution and sign the dotted lined only after carefully scrutinizing the company policy of several gas suppliers.
What to ask a natural gas supplier
Did You Know?
The State of Texas consumed 3.6 Tcf (Trillion Cubic Feet) of natural gas in 2011.
EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Do not simply choose a supplier just because your neighbors and friends opted for the same; instead invest some time and carry out thorough research before deciding on one. Since everyone's needs and budget are different, you will need to compare the services and rates of the suppliers in your area and choose the one that meets your requisites. Ensure that the suppliers you consider are on the certified supplier list of the state you live in. This Buzzle article discusses how to choose a natural gas company in the best possible manner.

Are You Eligible?
Not everyone is allowed by law to switch their natural gas suppliers; only some states give absolute permission to do so under their complete customer choice/unbundling program. Others states have limited eligibility. According to the EIA, the resident consumers from a few states such as District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania enjoy 100 percent active eligibility to choose their natural gas suppliers. On the other hand, other states have pilot programs/partial unbundling or no unbundling at all. While the supplier may change, the local distribution company will remain the same and provide the local transportation and distribution as before. The natural gas supplier can either be the local distribution company itself or government-approved gas marketers designated for the specific state.

Note: Please visit the EIA Government website (www.eia.gov) for finding out whether or not the state you live in permits consumers to choose a natural gas supplier.

Compare Prices
The gas bill you incur every month is a culmination of several features which include the base charge, operation costs, supply charges, interests, state and local taxes, and earnings. The base charge offered by each supply company will be more or less similar; thus, it does not make a good starting point for comparing prices. It is the actual price of the gas that you should be comparing.

• Find out whether the gas suppliers charge a monthly floating rate, fixed rate for the whole ear, or a flat rate that is levied irrespective of how much gas you use during the year.

• Assess the overall expense and decide which budget plan profits you. Go through the websites of the various suppliers in your area for gathering as much information as possible.

Once you have shortlisted a few gas companies, contact the suppliers and ask them the questions mentioned below.

Make a Questionnaire
Following are some pertinent questions you must ask the shortlisted gas suppliers.

Are you a certified/licensed supplier of this state?
Is there a sign up fee?
What is your rate for natural gas per hundred/thousand cubic feet?
Do you offer budget billing? If yes, will there be a yearly or quarterly budget billing?
Do you offer a flat rate, or will the price of gas fluctuate?
Why and how do you change the prices?
Is the price fixed on the amount of natural gas I use or when I use it?
Do you offer any special customer incentives and add-on services for signing up?
Will I be charged for making the switch to your gas supply services?
Can I get a copy of the terms and conditions of your contract?
What is the duration of the contract?
Will I be charged a fee and how much, for canceling my contract before it expires?
Do you renew our contract as soon as it expires?
How many bills can I expect in a month, and by when should I pay them?
Who provides my billing?
Who can I contact in case I have any billing issues that need immediate resolution?
Do you offer prompt customer service?

Sign Up and Conformation Letter
Once you have contacted a gas supplier and are willing to sign up, the supplier will contact the local gas utility in your area for you. Thereafter, the local gas utility will email a letter confirming that you have chosen a new gas supplier and intend to make the switch. Carefully read through the conformation letter and inform the sender, in case anything is incorrect. In such a case, request that the switch be stopped. If the information mentioned in the letter is correct, you do not need to reply to the letter.

Go in for a supplier that offers you the best deals at the most affordable price and provides consistent services.
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Published: December 30, 2013
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