Is “StayWarm” Worth it?

The vast majority of gas and electricity providers around the world charge people on a monthly basis based on the usage of their utilities. The “use more, pay more” model has been around forever, and it often leads to frustration for the consumer as they struggle to keep heating costs down throughout the Winter.

However, Staywarm is a different kind of gas and electric service that is specifically designed for homes with residents over the age of 60. Instead of paying based on consumption, users pay a flat fee over the course of one year after they receive their locked in rate. Typically, the rate for the first year represents significant savings and will not change no matter how much you use. This is a great perk, as it allows you to budget your monthly heating costs without fear of a surprise bill at the end of the usage period.

However, Staywarm has changed the method by which they determine the yearly costs, potentially making it less of a value for some customers. The company attempts to label the household with a level of usage (chosen between low, medium and high), and this branded level has a direct influence on the rate you will pay throughout the course of the year. These new considerations are in addition to the other criteria, including the number of people and bedrooms in your home as well as where you live.

Your initial level distinction is based off of answers to a questionnaire, and the service is not available to anyone who initially is deemed as a “high usage” customer. Of course, this leads to understandable frustration from many new applicants.

For existing customers, there is also the stress of possibly getting bumped up a service level at the end of the year based on the usage over the previous 12 months. Obviously, this will lead to higher costs, and you’ll have to determine for yourself whether it’s still worth it to keep the service.

What makes this process so difficult is that there is no sure-fire way to compare Staywarm against other service providers unless you already have the service, know what you’re paying each month, and know what other companies are charging for what you use. Finding out such information involves actually applying for Staywarm to see if you qualify and then shopping around to other providers and comparing your flat monthly rate to their traditional method.

Ultimately, Staywarm’s usefulness is based entirely on your energy consumption. You’ll save the most money by staying in whatever energy consumption level you were in previously if you’ve had the service.

Also, it may be worth it to you to keep the service if you’re on a fixed income and don’t wish to be surprised by your energy costs throughout the year, even if that means paying just a little more for the same energy. There is serious value in monthly peace of mind. However, if you’re just out to get the best possible deal, doing some comparison shopping at the end of your first year of service could lead to savings down the road.

Article Provided by Sally at her Save Money blog.

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