Electric bill out of control! Help!

Like many of us we started out in apartment as a single guy or girl and maybe had a roommate or two. I remember tapping the windows and it almost felt like a thin layer of hard Reynolds wrap or sushi paper.

I knew after tapping the window that the winters and summers were going to be hard on my wallet because all that Texas air conditioning would be sucked up by the hot Texas sun right through that pathetic super thin pane.

The winters would make my window almost like an outdoor heater as the heat seemed to be blowing out my window as if it wasn’t even there. The heater and air conditioning ran continuously and nothing ever stabilized.

I lived alone in a 800ft, all electric, second floor apartment. I kept it as hot as I could stand in the summer, and as cold as I could handle in the winter. I barely used lights or air. In the spring/fall, when I didn’t use air at all, my electric bill fluctuated around $150. In the summer, it was as as high as $200. This was way too much money for me to spend on such a necessary thing. I frequently wondered what I could do that didn’t include permanent modifications to the apartment to lower my energy costs?

It turns out I simply had a few misconceptions about how to tackle my energy usage. I constantly kept my light turned off and my heating and air conditioning was set just enough to keep me alive it sometimes seemed like.

What ended up reducing my electric bill the most was buying weather stripping and placing it on the windows and doors. Adding thick curtains to the windows also had a huge influence on the reduction of my electric bill.

After making these minor adjustments my air conditioner and heater did not have to work as hard at keeping me a comfortable temperature and I was good to go from there with an energy bill that never went above $100 a month.

Tips for Selecting a Texas Energy Provider

Independence Day Promo Electric Rate From Bounce EnergyEvery 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.

Online Resources
http://powertochoose.org
http://www.electricitytexas.com

Texas Electric: What to Do If You’ve Been a Victim of Electric Cramming

Many Texas electricity consumers are paying more for electricity than they need to. And the kicker is, they don’t even know it. How is this possible? In short, electric cramming. Following is what it is and what to do about it if it’s happened to you.

 

What Is Electric Cramming?

 

Electric cramming is when an unauthorized energy supplier charges you for services that they aren’t even providing. Most customers don’t realize that this is happening to them, so it can go on for months – or even years – if you are not diligent about checking the charges on your Texas electric bill.

If You’ve Been Crammed, Following Is What You Need to Do

1. Contact Your Texas Electricity Supplier Immediately: Tell them about the charges and that you are a victim of electric cramming.

Note: You should pay the rest of your bill on time (just don’t pay the cramming charges). If you don’t pay the legitimate portion of your bill, you risk having your electric service terminated.

2. Ask for Removal of Charges: Your electric company will usually comply with this request immediately.

Tip: If you go back through old bills and find that you’ve unwittingly paid cramming charges, ask for a refund.

3. File a Complaint: If you can’t come to a resolution with your Texas electricity company, you can file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) by calling 888-782-8477.

When you start examining your Texas electric bill for unauthorized charges, you may notice that what you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) is higher than the norm. If this is so, you may be using a prepaid electric service plan where costs can be 25, 30 or 40% higher than those who have regular plans and enjoy some of the lowest rates around.

Even if you have bad credit or what’s considered a low income, conventional Texas electricity companies have low-deposit and no-deposit electric plans that can help you save – a lot – on your monthly energy bill. All you have to do is contact your Texas electricity company to find out about which options they have that can help you.

Texas Electric: Get Federal Tax Credit for Making Energy Efficient Home Improvements in 2010

The federal government is going all out with its green energy initiatives. One of the ways it’s doing this is by incentivizing the program, ie, giving tax credits to homeowners for making their homes more energy efficient. Following is an overview of one such program for the year 2010 that can help Texas electric customers.

FAQs: How to Get Federal Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements Made in 2010

How do I get the tax credit? Basically, you have to make the improvement/purchase qualifying products and “place them in service” during the year 2010. You then claim the tax credit when you file your taxes next year.

How much of a tax credit can I get? The maximum amount is $1,500. The credit is 30% of cost. So in essence you get to spend $5,000 and get a credit for 30% of this.

Does this apply to products/improvements I make on my rental and/or vacation properties too? No, it must be your primary residence.

 

Which products/renovations qualify for the tax credit? Following is a partial list. Consult the Energy Star website for full details.

Windows and doors; insulation, metal and asphalt roofs, HVAC (including air conditions, heat pumps, furnaces and boilers; water heaters; and biomass stoves.

How to Lower Your Texas Electric Bill for $0

Don’t have any money to spend on energy-efficient home improvements? It’s okay; you can still save on your electric bill. How? By doing some comparison Texas electric company shopping.

Traditional Texas energy providers offer a host of money-saving options for budget-conscious consumers, eg, the LITE-UP Texas program. With this program, you can save money on your energy bill five months out the year (May through September)? And, it’s a no-deposit electric service plan.

Plans like this are ideal for consumers who are currently on prepaid electric service plans because they can significantly lower your energy bill during the five most high-consumption months of the year. And it needn’t cost a dime. All you have to do is call your Texas electricity company to get full qualifying details

April 2009 Houston Electricity Rates

We have compiled a list of some of the best and worst residential electricity rates in the Houston Texas area. You will find this detailed list below. The best Houston electric rate at this time is with Champion Energy. Reliant Energy and TXU Energy again remain at near the bottom of this list. Trickster Electric Company is near the top although we have received several complaints that Trickster raises the electric rate through TDSP related charges once the customer gets the electricity bill. Because of this we want to warn customers about the potential of Trickster’s (name withheld by legal) electric rate being higher then what it appears. If you are one of Trickster’s customers that thought you were going to be charged one rate but once you received the energy bill were charged a much higher energy price then please feel free to comment below. Read below from one of our readers and a customer of Trickster (name withheld by legal):

Stay away!! 9.7 cent plan kept going up 13,14 and finally to 16 cents!!! Ridiculous!!

Trickster Energy (name withheld by legal) is a rip off. SIgn up for .12 kilowatt, but have been billed up to .17/kw. Also the customer service is horrible. Stay away !!

If TXU Energy or Reliant Energy called asking you to renew at an electric rate several cents higher then where the market is currently at we recommend checking out our recommended Houston electric providers on the top left of this page. All fees and charges are disclosed.

Electricity Bid helps you find an electric rate and provider to save you money and keep life simple.

Get in touch with us!