More options offer lower prices for electricity.
In the era of Groupon and Living Social, websites dedicated to saving people money, Alphabuyer emerges to save money on electricity bills for residents in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
John Raisch, cofounder and chief product and marketing officer of Alphabuyer, compared the concept to someone who wanted to buy services that give group discounts.
"What would I do?" Raisch said, "My option would be to go to a parking lot and try to gather a big group together and take them out to a supplier. Alphabuyer brings people together online."
Users enter their zip code on the website, alphabuyer.com, to see the latest offer for a 12-month fixed price on electricity from Spark Energy. The website shows a percentage of money users can save, how many users have already signed up, and how many more users are needed to reach the highest savings. Users can also calculate how much money they will save by switching.
Raisch said that in the Williamsport area, there are 500,000 residential customers. 38.7 percent of those customers have switched. PAPowerSwitch.com provides the percentage of people that switch and allows customers to comparatively shop for electricity.
"People hesitate to switch. The switch rate is still relatively low," Raisch said. "What Alphabuyer is trying to do is show them it's okay to switch your provider. It's regulated by the state. You should be out there looking around [for the best price]. We love to see people gang up and save on their energy bills."
Even without switching, residents who use PPL Renewable Energy will see savings for the month of June.
PPL made a change to its policy that started June 1, said spokeswoman Lissette Santana. Before the change, the price for customers to compare to other providers changed annually, which meant 'wild' price fluctuations from year to year. Under the new policy, prices change every three months. The price from June to August lowered for residents.
She said that the comparison price does not determine the whole of a bill, however. The price to compare makes up about 70 percent of the bill.
"People can use the price to compare [to other companies]," Santana said. "It's a baseline."
Santana said that she has been "surprised by how many competitive markets recently showed up." With all of the choices available for electricity, Santana encourages people to look around for what offer best supplies the individual's needs.
Respond Power Rewards, launched in mid-April, uses text messages and emails to save customers money.
SmartMeters, automatically attached to any user with PPL, measures hourly, unlike regular meters that measure monthly. Respond Power Rewards receive price peaks for power a day in advance and alert customers as to when they should strive to use less electricity.
"Every day it changes," Mark Berger, director of marketing said. "When we first started, and the powers that be explained it to me, I thought it'd be prime time. But it fluctuates with the weather forecast and things like that. There are some days where it's 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., not necessarily a couple of hours. Sometimes it's just a couple of hours."
When somebody signs up for Respond Power Rewards with an email address, the resident can choose to receive emails, text messages or both.
"We send them price alert for the next 24 hour where the price spikes," Berger said. "We tell you, for instance, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., power down, cut back energy usage. If you do that, you'll be using less energy."
When users hear the spikes, they will sometimes change their daily plans to use less energy. They might do laundry at a different time or grill outside to save money.
Whichever company residents choose, there are always ways to cut back on electricity bills. Unplug anything unnecessary, such as unused chargers or the coffee maker, and compare prices of different companies.