Every May, our contract with our Texas energy provider comes up for renewal, and we have the power to choose whether to stay with our current provider or switch. In looking for a new provider and/or plan we not only want a good rate, but we first have to decide if we want a contract and what kind, and if we want to use green energy, all the while paying close attention to possible promotions and rewards programs. Here is the process we usually go through.
In order to choose a provider, it is best to start with a plan. The two most common plans are variable rate and fixed rate. With a fixed rate plan you’ll pay the same rate for electricity throughout the term of your contract (which is typically 2 years). The price can change only to reproduce actual price changes that are allowed by Public Utility Commission rules due to changes in law or regulatory charges. This plan is great for people who have a household budget since the rate stays the same, which protects you from rising energy prices; however, if market prices fall you have to wait until your contract is over to switch to a lower rate. If you think you might want to discontinue service after a short period of time, look for a company that does not have contracts or offers short term contracts. Companies that have contract periods often have a minimum term and if you cancel your service before the contract period ends, you might have to pay a penalty.
Variable rate, or often referred to as “month-to-month”, plans have no minimum contract period and are based on current energy market conditions. With this kind of plan, the rate you pay can fluctuate depending on the changes in the electricity market. Which means you can benefit from lowering energy rates and could help you to save on your energy bill. However, just as this type of plan allows you to save money when market prices fall, it could also have a negative affect if market prices rise because so would your electricity rate. For some people, dealing with constant changing electricity rates can be stressful so a fixed rate works best for them. On the other hand, there are others who like being able to always get the best rate and don’t mind searching for it, making a variable rate plan their best option.
Next is to choose between a non-renewable (standard) and a renewable (green) plan. You can check a Texas energy provider’s Electricity Facts Label (EFL) to see if their plan produces electricity from renewable resources such as solar, hydroelectric, landfill gas, biomass, geothermal, or wind. EFLs allow you to easily compare what each company has to offer to find the best fit for your energy consumption and budget. Each label contains the following information:
- Electricity Rate: This is made up of the electric company’s average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 500 kWh, 1000 kWh and 1500 kWh, as well as a possible monthly customer service charge and seasonal pricing. Rates can differ depending on the number of kilowatt-hours so it’s important to look at your past usage. With some companies the more kilowatt-hours you use, the lower the rate will be.
- Contract Terms: Some companies have minimum terms and will charge you an early cancellation fee, while others may not require a contract.
- Power Generation Sources: The electricity provider should list from what resources the electricity is produced (coal, natural gas, renewable energy, etc.) The percentages will be graphed to compare them to the average usage for electricity generation statewide.
- Emissions: In this section companies provide details on the types and percentage of emissions they create per kWh of electricity generated. The energy provider’s percentages will be graphed to show if the emissions are better or worse than the Texas average. This might be an important section for you if you’re interested in decreasing your carbon footprint.
Once you’ve decided which plan works for you, then the next step is to compare Texas electricity companies. You can do this by going to ElectricityBid.com where you can compare prices and ratings. Just enter your zip code and then pick the kind of plan you want. You will be able to see different Texas energy providers and their company rating, different plans offered, cancellation fee, if electricity is produced from renewable or non-renewable resources and the terms and rate for each plan. These websites will also show you promotions and incentives offered by each company and if they have a rewards program.
Lastly, review and compare all the possible incentives and rewards programs offered. Some companies offer rewards programs to their customers such as cash back and gifts. For example, Bounce Energy is currently rewarding its customers for paying their bills on-time. Customers who pay their bill on-time for 6 consecutive months receive their choice of 2 movie tickets or a free companion airfare ticket and also gain access to Bounce Energy’s VIP Customer Service line. The longer you pay on time, the more you get in return. Power providers might also offer incentives or promotions for signing up with a new plan such as gift cards, airline miles, charitable donations, or better rates if you sign up online. For example, Bounce Energy’s Express Move plan. This short term fixed rate plan makes moving much easier by not only turning on your electricity, but Bounce Energy will submit your USPS Change of Address form, add your name to the Do Not Mail and Do Not Call lists, give you free identity protection service and give you either a $25 Walmart or Home Depot gift card. Bounce Energy’s Terrific 12 plan gives the customer their choice of $25 gift cards to Target, Wal-Mart, GAP Inc., Shell, or a $25 bill credit.
As you’ve probably seen, there are many Texas energy providers and plans to choose from but by doing some research you will be able to find one that is right for your electricity needs and budget.