As the cold weather slowly arrives, it is an important time to look into locking in your energy prices. Typically, energy bills play a significant role in the expenses you pay for your home. If not prepared, energy market price fluctuations can affect this budgeting process, resulting in unpredicted expenses.

Take the stress out of these natural gas and electric costs by relying on an energy company you can trust. When shopping around for an energy provider, there are things to consider to assure that you are in good hands.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when searching for the perfect company:

What options are there for purchasing my energy – and what are the benefits and downsides of each?

There are numerous ways to purchase your energy, including locking in a fixed price or taking advantage of market pricing.

With a fixed price/full requirements rate, the supplier agrees to supply your home with all of your energy at a specific, locked-in price. This option eliminates the risk associated with fluctuations in the energy market, and the risk you take with using more or less energy than you anticipated when signing on. A downside to this purchase type is that if energy prices do drop within the market, you would not be able to take advantage of the lower prices since you are locked into your own, custom rate.

The other type of pricing is variable pricing. This is the type of pricing that your home would be billed at whatever the market price is each month. This is not a price option that we typically recommend to a homeowner because of the high risk associated with it. In most instances, we do not encourage customers to choose a plan that is 100% market-based pricing.

Here at UGI EnergyLink, we also offer a Winter Lock option. Many customers choose to take advantage of the great rates that come with variable pricing for most of the year, but like the security of locking in a price during the high-demand winter months, when your heating bill can increase rapidly.

Since the demand for natural gas is lower during the summer months, it is a great time to take advantage of market conditions and lock in a price to get you and your family through the winter. By locking in your rate for your home’s natural gas needs during the winter months, you will benefit from price security and the protection you need against the rising cost of natural gas during the coldest months (generally November to March).

If we choose a third party to deliver our company’s energy, will the quality be the same? Will our local utility still provide services?

The answer is yes. Your natural gas or electricity will be of the exact same quality and delivered directly to your property through the same pipelines or wires it currently is delivered. You will be switching your energy provider, but your public utility will stay the same. The only change you will see is the contracted rate you pay for your energy usage for your home.

Your local utility owns the pipes, wires, and distribution system that brings energy to your home. They are paid a fee to deliver the gas or electricity directly to your meter, and you will continue to pay this fee to your utility.

What should I look for when searching for an energy supplier?

It is important to put your trust in a supplier that can offer all possible options to best suit your needs, as well as provide you with a dedicated representative to help you evaluate these options.

Look for a stable company that has been around for a substantial period of time. Since energy deregulation (the ability to “shop” for your energy provider) has been in existence since the 1990s in Pennsylvania – you want a supplier that has been in the business for much of that time.

You should also look for a company that specializes in deregulated energy sales. While many companies exist in the energy supply business, often times that segment of their business is not core to its operations. You want a company whose core business is energy supply. Energy assets like natural gas storage, electricity generation, and infrastructure not only provide stability in your energy supplier, but they may also allow the company to manage your energy purchases more cost-efficiently.

It is best to search for a company that has it all – you want them to be reliable and reputable, but also have a strong asset base so you can enjoy the benefits of the one-to-one relationship for years to come.

UGI Energy Services checks all these boxes. We have been around for over a century, we are backed by a Fortune 500 company and we have invested in energy assets. Make us the company you can trust.