Budget: Impossible. Should I Switch Energy Suppliers in New York City?
You moved to New York thinking that Alicia Keys had it right in her hit song, “Empire State of Mind.” The song gives the impression that this is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of and that there’s nothing you can’t do. Since then you’ve come to realize that there is, in fact, something you can’t do—afford to live in New York City comfortably. By “comfortably” I don’t mean eating caviar and guzzling $500 bottles of Brut every other day. I just mean having a roof over your head, being able to buy ramen, and not worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to pay your electricity bill.
For those of us who aren’t Alicia Keys, Jay-Z or anyone else who is seeing their face in lights or their name on marquees found down on Broadway, life in NYC is tough, financially speaking. If sky-high rent costs weren’t enough, those pesky electricity bills seem to swing like a possessed pendulum from month to month, making it nearly impossible to do any sort of budgeting or stay on track with your finances. You feel unstable, to say the least, and each month you cross your fingers hoping that you’ll have enough income to cover your bill. So in a city with such uncertainty, what’s a New Yorker to do? Switch to a third party energy supplier.
Challenges Millennials Face Living in NYC
I know New York is a pricey city, but I almost lost it when I found out that the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is $2698. You either have to be Alicia Keys or be really raking in the cash to be able to afford that. If you aren’t among the 12% of millennials in New York City bringing home six figures or more, then this expense makes up a big portion of your monthly income. Where are rent-stabilized apartments when we need them?
Above and beyond the astronomical rent prices, we also have to be on top of our student loan payments, which are also the highest any generation has seen. It’s tough because the wage decline doesn’t have us earning enough to keep up in this crazy city.
Although these expenses are overwhelming, at least they are fixed and don’t fluctuate. We can rely on them. There’s something comforting about knowing that even though our rent and loan payments are insanely high, they are the same price every month—no surprises. It’s that sneaky, fluctuating, unpredictable monthly electricity bill that gives us anxiety attacks. So, in efforts to save power and cut costs, there we sit, shivering on the cold floor of our Ocean Hill apartment worrying about running out of money before the month’s end, and whispering to ourselves, if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.
Supply and Demand: NYC’s Fluctuating Energy Bills
If you’ve lived in New York for a full calendar year, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how dramatically different your electricity bill can be from one season to the next. This makes it really hard for you to stick to a budget. Usually, the winter is cheaper (relatively speaking) if you, like most of us, live in a building with gas heaters, but the summer months get mighty pricey. Even though you sweat through heat waves to save on the cost of air conditioning, you end up paying for it in one way or another. This is because Con Ed’s prices fluctuate based on supply and demand.
Since everyone is cranking the AC in the summer (except you), the demand is high and the price of energy skyrockets (hence the panic attack-inducing $200 bill). This is why your efforts to save energy by eating questionable discount sushi instead of using your stove to cook, may not get you the kind of savings you expect. When demand is low, prices are lower, and you wind up paying about $100 bucks a month (the average cost of electricity for a 2 bedroom apartment in NYC during the winter months). Couldn’t your electricity bill just be like your rent—the same every month? Of course it might change a little based on how much energy you use, but the rate you pay for your supply will stay the same.
Third Party Energy Suppliers Offer Competitive, Fixed Rates
There is indeed a way to lock down that energy bill so that you avoid getting unpleasant surprises when it arrives each month. In deregulated states like New York, third party energy suppliers offer their customers the option of fixed electricity rates. This means that you not only have a choice when it comes to selecting your energy supplier, but you can also avoid fluctuation in your bill from month to month.
The way it works is that third party energy suppliers buy electricity from the plant in bulk ahead of production (as opposed to ConEd who buys it based on demand and as needed), so they can get better rates. Since they’re buying it in bulk, and in advance, they can offer you a fixed rate that won’t be subject to supply and demand or seasonal changes. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a disruption in service when you make the switch, as the electricity will still be delivered to you by your current utility. Pretty sweet, right? This makes any hope of financial planning and budgeting in this city all the more realistic, and it gives some semblance of the stability you long for.
Put Your Lighters in the Air For Third Party Energy Suppliers
Despite all of the not-so-great things about this city, it’s pretty cool that we have a choice when it comes to our electricity bill. New York City may be an unpredictable place with a life of its own, but you’ve got to admit that was one of the things that drew you here in the first place. There’s something so exhilarating about uncertainty—just not when it comes to your energy bill. After all, we all want something we can rely on. Perhaps Alicia wasn’t so wrong after all. Let’s hear it for New York.
Liberty Power understands both the excitement and the uncertainty that comes with living in New York City. We’re here to give you stability—at least when it comes to your electricity bill. Our fixed energy rates will enable and empower you to take control of your budget. Contact us today to find out how we can make your fluctuating energy bills a thing of the past.
Photo Credit: Kevin Lee