Natural gas customers at the Atlanta Gas Light service area in Georgia need to check their energy rate, and compare it to current competitive offers to make sure they are paying the lowest rate for natural gas service before they starting running their heaters all day and night due to winter weather.

Even if customers at Atlanta Gas Light have previously shopped for a low natural gas rate, they still need to compare their current rate with other rates in the market, because they could now be paying a higher rate for several reasons.

First, natural gas rates have come down over the past few months, and are even lower than the historic lows seen earlier in the year.  Even if customers got a good deal the last time they shopped for a natural gas rate, more savings could be available today.

More importantly, customers need to protect themselves against higher rates if they have reached the end of their contract.  Regardless of whether their initial contract was a month-to-month or long-term contract, at the end of the initial term, the contract will automatically renew with the previously chosen supplier, unless the customer takes an affirmative action to cancel the renewal or switch to another natural gas supplier.

If customers don't take an affirmative step when their initial low-rate contract ends, they will typically become subject to "margin creep."  This is a process under which natural gas suppliers, believing they have a loyal or "sticky" customer who isn't going to actively shop for a lower rate, start to gradually increase the price paid by their customer for renewals of the contract.  This process is done slowly so the customer does not experience rate shock all at once, and thus does not see a huge jump in their bill and are not prompted to check other natural gas rates in the market.

However, make no mistake, if customers don't actively shop around for the lowest rate, they aren't getting the best offer from their natural gas supplier, and could be saving money by comparing competitive offers in the market.

That means if it's been six months or a year, or even longer, since the last time you shopped for a natural gas contract, you're probably paying too much money for your natural gas supply, because your supplier has not had any incentive to keep you on their absolutely lowest rate.