CHICAGO (CBS) – It seems everywhere you turn these days, some new electric company is trying to persuade you turn off ComEd and sign up with them.
But will making the switch really save you money? CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker compares the costs and shows you what to look for before making a decision.
The ads are everywhere. They’re attractive offers that have caught the attention of homeowners like Freya and Seymour Maslov. With an electric stove and central air, their electric bills take a bite out of their budget.
“I want to know what I’m going to be charged by ComEd and what I’m going to be charged by these other companies,” Freya Maslov says.
About a dozen companies are competing for your electric dollar. At citizensutilityboard.org, you’ll find a fact sheet listing the current rates they offer.
CUB Executive Director David Kolata says the true apples-to-apples comparison lies in ComEd’s energy price.
Every company on the list offers a lower rate than ComEd’s summer rate of 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
Freya paid ComEd $80.32 for her electricity in July. If she had switched to the cheapest competitor, she would have been charged 6.59 cents per kilowatt hour. Under that price, her bill would have come to $66.82 for the electricity – a savings of $13.50 compared to ComEd.
“ComEd is not saying to me, ‘Stay with us,’ so why wouldn’t we go with someone who is going to save us 13 percent?” Freya says.
Unlike ComEd, keep in mind that most companies require you to sign a contract.
So, if you are looking to switch, Kolata recommends you choose one that has a fixed rate, lasts for only one or two years and has a reasonable cancellation charge.
Nicholas Apostal recently switched and thought he was going to save more than he did.
His electric supply charge last month was just $2.96 less than he would have paid ComEd. He overlooked the fact that whatever alternative energy company you choose, you still have to pay ComEd the taxes and for delivering the electricity.
“I missed it. I think it was plainly stated. I just didn’t connect to it. All I saw was the 18 percent savings,” Apostal says.
Freya is still considering her options, saying, “It really is a tossup — do I or don’t I?”
Other things to keep in mind: You still have to call ComEd if your power goes out. Also, ComEd’s summer rate drops a bit in October, so the savings will be less over the winter months.
On the other hand, some of the alternative companies offer reward points, sort of like credit cards do. And at least one offers discounts for seniors and the military.
The Illinois Commerce Commission has information online for consumers interested in learning more.