Utility Rewards

Consumers are used to earning reward per dollar spent or mile flown, but now there are loyalty programs from your utility company that reward you for energy saved. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, shares with you how to take advantage.


Survey your utility. More electric and natural gas companies are debuting reward programs. Some are using program Efficiency 2.0, which compares use against the previous year's, with two point per kilowatt saved. Others offer cash back for joining energy-saving initiatives. Check for details on the utility's site, or your statement.

 Weigh inconveniences. One of the common programs allows the utility to reduce your air conditioner's operation on peak use days. Translation: when it's a summer scorcher, you might be without a/c for a few hours. Such programs usually operate during weekday afternoons, and so make more sense for people who work during those hours.

Check energy rates. Some reward programs come with energy rates that vary by time of day, or month-to-month. That could actually cost you more over the long run, depending on your energy use patterns. Be sure to check rate information and contract terms before signing up.

Focus on energy savings. Earning reward points is nice, but the bigger deal comes from lower bills through energy savings. Some programs estimate you'll save $200 a year on your bills, twice what you'd earn in rewards. Think about points as an extra incentive to develop smart energy habits.

For more information on utility loyalty programs and other consumer tips click here.