Can I switch to some other elctric company to save money over AEP? Ohio
August 23, 2013 2:31 PM   Subscribe

My mom uses AEP electric and her bill is pretty outrageous, but she doesn't want to cut down on her usage. I think I have seen advertisements before, for some no name company that will provide the same electricity for 10% to 30% cheaper. Who was it and is it legit? What are my other options for switching electric companies/lowering my electric bill. I already had her sign up for low income assistance Thanks.
posted by crawltopslow to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Sounds like an electricity reseller. What they do is force you into multi-year contracts, then resell forward power purchases (+ uncertainty + profit) to the consumer. It very seldom works out cheaper, and โ€” where I am, at least โ€” is sold as a scam to vulnerable consumers. If anyone comes to the door and asks to see you power bill, then needs your signature to confirm to their boss that they've visited โ€” BAM! you've signed up with a reseller.

One possible legitimate saving available in Ohio might be available if she's a tenant in a multi-unit building. It's possible (I don't know how difficult) to use a reseller with per-unit metering. Savings can be substantial, but I don't know what has to be in place to work.

AEP I think uses time-of-use metering. If your mom can shift use of heavy loads (dryer, etc) to outside peak power time, that's a way to save money while not reducing usage. Otherwise, the only way to pay less is to use less.
posted by scruss at 4:34 PM on August 23, 2013

Time of use metering seems great! how can I find out if my mom is in that? and how can i find out when peak times are?
posted by crawltopslow at 7:34 PM on August 23, 2013

AEP calls it "SMART Shift", but only those customers who have a smartmeter and are part of their "gridSMART" project are eligible for it. Here's the map of the coverage area:

Have you done any kind of audit on her electricity usage? This could be done fairly subvertly; check the make/model/year of all of her appliances, count the lightbulbs and note their type (incandescant vs. CFL/LED) and wattage, see what the thermostat is set at, etc. Upgrading to more energy efficient products can save her money without having to change her usage habits.
posted by bizwank at 10:46 PM on August 23, 2013

Ohio is an "Electric Choice" state where you can sign a contract to receive your electricity from a different company than the one that owns & maintains the wires in your neighborhood, possibly for a lower charge per kWh.

I honestly haven't paid much attention to it, because my bill isn't outrageous, but here's an explanation from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and here's a page from the Office if the Ohio Consumers' Counsel with links to pdf's that explain the program and list the possible providers and compare rates.

So you might find something useful there.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:13 PM on August 23, 2013

More information would be helpful: The average residential rate in Ohio in June was 12.95ยข/kWh. Is she paying more than that? What does she use electricity for besides lighting (e.g. stove, heating, cooling, water heater, etc.)? Is she in a single- or multi-family dwelling? Own or rent? What do you mean by "she doesn't want to cut down on her usage" (e.g. she doesn't want to make bigger changes like using a clothesline or she doesn't want to do smaller things like switch off lights when leaving a room or setback the thermostat when she's away)? Does she respond well to metrics/feedback on her usage (like some people find their FitBits)?

The peak times for AEP's Smart Shift winter program are 1-7pm. Summer is probably similar (and may be broader).

bizwank is right: increasing efficiency is likely the best option for your mom. But the return on investment really depends on what she's using electricity for. Her utility may offer a free or cheap energy audit. There are financial incentives that can help: the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) has info for Ohio and other states.
posted by JackBurden at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2013

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