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Posted: 12:25 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Georgia Natural Gas Guide

Bookmark this page for the latest rate info each month

By Clark Howard

July 2014:

There are 3 low-cost price leaders this month for fixed rates, according to the Georgia Public Service Commission (GA PSC). They are True Natural Gas, Stream Energy, and Fireside Natural Gas.

True Natural Gas is advertising a rate of .597 this month, while Stream is at .648 and Fireside is at .660.

Based on the price per therm alone, you would automatically think True, Stream, and Fireside would be win, place, and show when it comes to lowering your total annual bill. But that's not necessarily the case because of junk fees.

A typical True customer who locks in this month can expect to pay $790 over 12 months. Pretty straightforward there. Where it gets a little confusing is when you look at Fireside vs. Stream. Despite the higher price per therm of Fireside, they're actually cheaper than Stream which has a lower price per therm.

So the typical Fireside customer can expect to pay $823 annually if they lock in this month. Meanwhile, the typical Stream customer locking in this month will pay $827 over the year. Not a huge difference, but it does highlight how price per therm can be misleading. You've got to look at the overall cost including junk fees, which is why I like the work Georgia Public Service Commission does with their monthly pricing chart that offers transparent price comparisons.

(By the way, a "typical" customer is defined as someone using 717 therms over the course of 12 months.)

Again, these are the lowest rates as determined by the GA PSC for the month of July 2014.

However, now is not really the time to lock in. Research suggests the best month to lock in is September. If waiting that long to lock in worries you, try holding out until at least August to see what prices are doing then.

Switching your natural gas company is easy and can be done over the phone or online. It really is that simple. But maybe you're concerned about switching, you're out contract, and you're happy with your current company. In that case, try giving them a call to see if they'll match any of this month's rates from the providers I named above.

Happy shopping!