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FOX43 Finds Out: How to get the best deal on your heating bill

You may dread taking a look at your heating bill in the winter because we know when the temperatures drop, your bill likely goes up. In Pennsylvania, we can sho...

You may dread taking a look at your heating bill in the winter because we know when the temperatures drop, your bill likely goes up.

In Pennsylvania, we can shop around to save a few bucks.

The Pennsylvania Utility Commission runs two websites that allow people to save some money on energy bills in just a few minutes.

According to the PUC, only 3 in 10 people in the commonwealth are currently doing this.

"When we see the increase in shopping, it`s more around the time of greater demand," said Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, chairman of the PUC.

She says Pennsylvanians have had the ability to shop to save on energy for more than 20 years, however a lot of people still just don't do it.

That may be because people can get confused when it comes to things like kilowatt hours or therms.

That's how electric and natural gas are measured, by the way.

Here's how it all works:

It starts with the price to compare.

That's the price utility companies typically change twice a year:  June 1st and December 1st.

It's known as the "generation" part of your bill, which is usually the most expensive part.

"In most cases, you will see an uptick in terms of the price, we do have a couple of our electric distribution companies that are actually lowering their price," said Brown Dutrieuille.

Some of the companies that serve South Central PA are increasing that price to compare this winter, anywhere from 1 to 24%.

The chairman says this is all to balance how much the companies bought compared to how much was used.

"So, when we see changes in December or in the summer it`s because they`re really looking at the calculations and trying to determine if they overcharged or undercharged, or over-collected or under collected."

People can go to PAPowerSwitch.com for electric and PAGasSwitch.com for natural gas.

Make sure you have your most recent bill nearby - to see how many kilowatt hours or therms you're using on average.

Then, just put in your zip code and you'll see how many offers there are where you live.

You'll see a few different options when it comes to rates:

Variable price can change daily, monthly or even another term that is defined in a contact.

Then there's a Fixed price: that means the kilowatt hour price you select will stay the same for the term of that contract.

This doesn`t mean your bill will be the same for that long.

Your bill will still rise and fall based on how much energy you use each month.

"Whether it`s a fixed fee for a certain period of time or whether it`s a variable rate. That`s very important too as we saw some of the things that happened during the 'polar vortex' in 2014," said the chairman.

Remember that winter?

Some people were getting heating bills as high as $2,000 a month because demand was so high.

The chairman says having a fixed rate in place before that cold snap could have prevented bills from being so high.

The third option is unlimited.

It's a newer option and there are only a few of these.

You'll be able to use as much energy as the contract allows and pay the same price - however, these terms tend to be shorter than fixed rates and they also have a cancellation or additional fees.

For people who shop, just remember that you're typically entering some sort of contract with a supplier, so it's up to you to remember the terms.

A good idea would be to set a calendar reminder yourself to shop again when your term ends - if not - your rate could go sky high.

"This is up to the consumer to look at your bill, see what the breakdown means and understand that before you go shopping and not just signing up for a deal that you don`t know what you`re getting into."

If you do choose to shop your not changing your distribution company.

That's your poles and wires company and where you pay your bill.

Your just shopping for the supplier, which can be anywhere in the US.

Here are some of the best prices we found, as of 1/15/2020:

York County: Zipcode 17406
Electric: fixed: save about $13 a month
variable: save $10 a month
unlimited: save $25 a month

Natural Gas: No price found was cheaper than the price to compare.

Lancaster County: zip code 17601
fixed: save about $21 a month
variable: save $10 a month
unlimited: save $33 a month

Natural Gas:
Fixed: save about $3 a month
Variable: save about $4 a month

Dauphin County: zipcode 17025
Electric:
fixed: save about $20 a month
variable: save $10 a month
unlimited: save $33 a month

Natural Gas:
Fixed: save $3 a month
Variable: save $6 a month

Lebanon County: zipcode 17042
Electric:
fixed: save about $21 a month
variable: save $10 a month
unlimited: save $33 a month

Natural Gas:
Fixed: save $4 a month
Variable: save $8 a month

Adams County: zipcode 17325
Electric:
fixed: save about $13 a month
variable: save $10 a month
unlimited: save $25 a month

Natural Gas:
No price found was cheaper than the price to compare for Columbia Gas
Variable for UGI: save $8 a month
Fixed for UGI: save $4 a month

Cumberland County: zipcode 17013
Electric: (Penelec)
fixed: save about $12 a month
variable: save $11 a month
unlimited: save $25 a month

Natural Gas: (PECO gas)
Fixed: save $5 a month
Variable: save $3 a month