Prepaid Energy – Pay Your Bills Upfront

Elizabeth Scanlon, Energy and Marketing Intern

Save Money and Energy at the Same Time By Paying Your Bills Upfront

Normally, paying energy bills involves free usage of heating, cooling, and other appliances, and waiting until the end of month to view (frequently in horror) the cost of your consumption. It hasn’t always been preferable, but there have been few alternatives—until now.

Recently, many electricity providers began to offer a more cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative: pay your bills upfront. Prepaid programs allow homeowners to pay a set fee, generally monthly or yearly, for a set amount of energy, to provide a very transparent energy bill. The prepaid system, which is more financially predictable, also creates a more efficient home because proprietors are compelled to take a closer look at their consumption habits and consider ways to modify them. Being aware of how much wiggle room one has in his or her allowance makes energy usage a more conscientious process.

For example, in monthly programs, homeowners determine how much they want to spend on energy for the month and pay an exact figure. They are then given a consequent amount of energy and left to consume within their means. With this constraint, a seemingly minute thing like forgetting to turn off the lights suddenly becomes a blaring waste of energy, prompting homeowners to adopt more efficient practices so that they have energy for what really matters. If a homeowner does exceed his or her monthly allotment, the companies will shut off power to the home.

If this program seems a little too risky, there are also yearly payment plans that allow homeowners to designate how much they would like to spend in a year. Customers are simply charged for any extra energy used at the end of the year, rather than losing power whenever they use additional power. Additionally, prepaid programs provide monthly reports so proprietors may see if they are on track with their payment plan—and modify accordingly if they are not—and even pays homeowners back at the end of the year if they consumed less energy than they paid for.

While it might be slightly difficult to adapt to this change, the rewards are ultimately a win-win: lower costs and higher efficiency. Check with your energy provider to see if it offers an upfront payment program.