Last winter, many customers on variable-rate plans for their generation supply faced high bills, resulting from a combination of high usage during the prolonged cold weather and volatile market prices.

We suggest a three-step plan to help customers avoid paying more than they have to for electricity:

1. Use energy wisely

We have many low-cost and no-cost tips to help you save energy. They include turning the thermostat down, if you can. Heating accounts for more than 30 percent of an average home’s energy bill. Turning the thermostat down about 1 degree saves about 2 percent on your heating bill, while turning it down 5 degrees saves about 10 percent. Also, seal your house against drafts, and have your ductwork checked for air leaks.

2. Shop for electricity

Shopping for everything from groceries to gasoline is part of almost every family’s routine. So why not shop for electricity, too? The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has a website that makes shopping easy: PAPowerSwitch.com.

3. Shop smart

Customers have two choices when they shop for their electricity: fixed rate and variable rate. If you have a variable rate, it means the price you pay per kilowatt-hour can change anytime, based on factors like weather and market conditions. A fixed-rate plan offers pricing stability for a defined period of time. There are many fixed-rate offers below PPL Electric Utilities’ price to compare — the rate PPL Electric Utilities charges customers who don’t shop.

Even if you’re already on a fixed-rate plan, it’s a good idea to check the terms and expiration date of your supply agreement. Sometimes fixed-rate plans automatically shift to variable-rate plans when they expire.

As with any purchase you make, it’s always good to double-check what you’re buying, and know the terms of your energy contract and the price you’ll pay this winter.

No matter where you buy your electricity, it will still be delivered safely and reliably by PPL Electric Utilities.