Archive for March, 2012

Energy company rates

If Texas is your place of residence, you should pay attention to how much you are paying for your electric bills. Previously, PUCT (Public Utility Commission of Texas) used to set rates for your electric bills. However, since the deregulation of electric prices, Texas electricity companies now set the prices, which vary based on type of plan and by provider. This makes it important for you to know about energy company rates, and shop around to get the best deal that suits your needs and budget.

 

Knowing about REPs and how energy company rates may vary

Before knowing about how Texas energy company rates may vary, you should have a clear understanding of how electric choice in the state works.

 

To begin with, you can take your pick from several Texas electric providers based on your preferred criteria. While price seems to the utmost important criterion while comparing energy company rates, other factors like green power, stability, etc also play a major role. Once you have chosen your Texas electric provider, it would sell you your power, and pay your local utility (CenterPoint, Oncor, etc.), which in turn would transmit the power to your home. However, you just need to pay your electricity provider, and not to the wires utility. It should be noted here that since the local utility still owns the lines and is in charge of its maintenance, you need to contact them in case there’s an outage or other emergency.

 

If you haven’t chosen an electric provider before, it’s likely that you are still with one of the old utilities (often called legacy providers), which had been operating even before Texas was opened to competition. These providers used to charge rates set by the PUC until January 1, 2007 that marked the end of the transition period. However, ever since then, these legacy providers have got the power to charge a rate determined by the market, which means you may be paying a higher rate and should shop around now to save on your electric bills. Since switching suppliers won’t cost you additional money, getting favorable energy company rates has become easier these days.

 

One thing to be kept in mind, while shopping for pocket friendly energy company rates, is that depending on the utility area, your legacy providers may vary. For example, if you live in the Houston region and are served by CenterPoint, Reliant Energy is your legacy provider. However, for those in Dallas who are served by Oncor, TXU Energy is the legacy provider.

 

Online comparison of energy company rates

Several energy websites offer you the ability to search online for energy company rates based on your zip code, nature of use (residential or commercial), names of service companies etc. You may even shop around and compare no-deposit, variable, fixed, and green Texas electricity rate plans using such online tools. Once you select the criteria and hit the search/compare button, you will get a neatly organized chart of energy company rates, which would help you to narrow down your choices, ask questions to the shortlisted companies, and finally choose the one that best fits your requirements.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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Best electricity provider in Texas

While shopping for electricity services, you need to understand the choices available in order to find the best electricity provider in Texas. However, with many suppliers offering varied plans to woo customers, it often becomes a daunting task to select the right one. So, here are some aspects that you should consider to make a wise decision:

 

Types of electricity rates

Your quest of finding the best electricity provider in Texas starts with identifying the electricity rates best suited for your needs. Usually, Texas electricity suppliers offer three types of electricity plans namely fixed, variable, and green energy . While a fixed electricity rate usually remains the same during the entire term of your contract (though minor exceptions may be there), a variable rate can fluctuate every month based on the method selected by the Retail Electric Provider (REP). Green energy or renewable energy plans are offered to promote a greener planet and carbon offset solutions.

 

Fixed rates would help you to keep your power costs within your budget as you are certain of paying a fixed rate as long as your contract is valid. However, in case market prices fall, you won’t be able to enjoy the slashed rates until your existing contract expires. Though indexed and variable electricity rates can be beneficial during price falls, you may end up paying more every time there is a price rise due to natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, or market conditions. So, while selecting the best electricity provider in Texas, make sure that you understand how the rates can change and what factors can trigger such change, and then assess what is right for your needs.

 

Green/Renewable Energy Options

The best electricity provider in Texas should ideally have a substantial amount of its electricity generated by renewable resources, like hydroelectricity, wind, landfill gas, solar, geothermal, or biomass. Some REPs may even use natural gas, which is considered to be a clean and green fuel. So, if you want to contribute to the environmental cause while choosing your Texas electricity suppliers, remember to find providers who use these green/renewable resources when researching your options.

 

Contracts and Terms

While some Texas electricity suppliers may offer you “month-to-month” plans, where no minimum contact period exists, some others may have plans with contract periods as long as three years or even more. In case of the latter ones, you may have to pay a penalty if you opt out of the plan before the contract period ends. So, understanding how your electricity prices will change at the end of the contract period and asking about the terms of penalty would be a prudent choice to avoid legal/monetary complications.

 

Electric Assistance Programs

Some states like Texas offer different types of assistance programs for customers who are disabled, aged, belong to the low-income group, or are victims of family violence. It’s most likely that your electricity provider can provide you additional details regarding this program.

 

So, assess a utility supplier on all these aspects to find the best electricity provider in Texas.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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Why should businesses shop for electricity?

As compared to ordinary residential areas, more electrical power is used by business establishments. What’s more, as the business expands and grows, electrical consumption increases too, which in turn causes the cost of operations go north. Since energy companies often inflate their prices, businesses may easily suffer by paying overpriced utility bills and find it tough to handle their increased costs of commercial energy usage. In case you have been wondering – why should businesses shop for electricity, this scenario gives you the answer.

Power of choice for businesses

Unlike the past where business establishments didn’t have much of a choice when it came to changing their suppliers, the energy deregulation in Texas has given them the power to choose. So, now you can take your pick from several power business plans based on how much electricity you consume, your forecasted growth, and your budgetary constraints. Since all the retail Texas electricity providers will be competing to get you onboard, they will be willing to offer customized plans to meet your business needs – that too without overshooting your budget.

Business shop owners who ask – why should businesses shop for electricity, would do well to remember that even after they have selected a provider and used its services, they can change their supplier if they are charged with inflated bills or the supplier doesn’t attend to their problems and queries. However, it’s best to consider intangible and tangible benefits, if any, offered by their Texas electricity providers, before making a switch and not base the decision on the cost factor alone.

With such an open market, customer is definitely the king and controlling the business electricity costs has become easier.

Why should businesses shop for electricity – advantages at a glance

Wondering why should businesses shop for electricity and what benefits they will get? Well, here’s a quick glance:

  • Comparing all registered commercial  electricity suppliers online to get a basic idea of how much it will cost to meet your business energy needs
  • Variety of payment and services schemes to choose from, depending on what suits your business the best
  • Chance to get intangible and tangible benefits, in addition to cheap electricity rates
  • Ability to choose a green energy plan to reduce your carbon footprints
  • Finding cheap electricity options become easier as you need to put in less time and effort, by either using the online mode or hiring electricity brokers
  • By bringing down your business shop’s cost of commercial  electricity, you can boost your profits

Steps to remember while businesses shop for electricity

Experts, while answering – why should businesses shop for electricity, talk about some steps to remember in order to get a good deal and not end up paying more than what you had signed up for. First of all, find out if there is a deregulated energy market in the area where your business is located. Though major cities of Texas like Dallas, Houston, and Forth Worth boast of deregulated markets and give businesses the right to choose, the same isn’t true for cities like San Antonio and Austin which are yet to have a competitive market.

The next step while shopping for electricity is to consider the cost, as well as intangible and tangible benefits, if any, to decide whether you are satisfied or need to change your supplier. Without proper assessment, investing time, money and effort for the search would be a wastage.

Lastly, evaluating the payment schemes, their flexibility, terms of services, service contract with your present supplier and whether it forbids you to opt for a change etc and green energy options are other factors worth considering.

Conclusion

Conducting a business is an extremely expensive operation. So, you should ensure you don’t pay for overpriced electricity. In fact, expenditure on account of inflated energy bills throughout the financial year can make all the difference between your business making a profit or going for a loss. So, make a prudent decision and shop for electricity wisely.

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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10 Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills

Texas residents probably still remember vividly how the state underwent a rash of Texas electricity emergencies after the extremely hot summer heat forced consumers to use more electricity, threatened grid reserve levels, sparked increases in electricity rates, and put the state on a brink of rolling blackouts.  The Texas grid operator called on the public to do their part and conserve electricity right in their own homes.

 

The threat of another hot Texas summer is still in the horizon but Texas consumers need not wait for such extremes to happen before they can start conserving energy. As a Texas electricity consumer you can do so by following cheap and easy solutions first, simple ways where you can save money on your electrical bills – and you can start with the following list:

 

  • The lighting of the future will focus more on using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED bulbs. Other lighting technologies are being developed now that could save even more electricity. But why wait for these new things to come when you can save energy now by using CFL lamps available in the market. They are a bit pricier than incandescent but the overall savings you can get with prolonged use can more than compensate for that

 

  • Phone chargers and other small electric devices that are constantly plugged in can consume trickle amounts of electricity even on standby mode. It would not amount to much if you’re looking at such consumptions individually but this minute amounts can be substantial if you add them all up

 

  • Microwave ovens and other appliances can still consume leakage currents when not in use and plugged into the electricity outlet. Pulling or unplugging them out one by one each time you are not using them can be tedious so it would be best to use power strips with individual on/off switches per outlet. The power strip can practically isolate the appliances from the outlet when the switch is turned off, thereby preventing leakage currents from seeping through

 

  • You don’t need to have your thermostat at full blast all the time, especially when you’re not at home. A programmable thermostat is what you need to automatically adjust the temperature only when needed and according to a schedule. In relation to this, you can also raise the thermostat setting just enough to make it comfortable. These things can save you on cooling costs quite significantly if done regularly.

 

  • Air conditioning is one major source of Texas electricity consumption so you would want to use more energy efficient models. If changing units is not viable for you at the moment, you can ensure that your air conditioning unit is running at optimum condition by making sure that the filters are properly cleaned or replaced. Clogged filters means your air conditioning unit will work doubly hard – and in the process consume more electricity.

 

  •  Air leaks can affect your air conditioning system, making them consume more electricity when compressors work extra hard to compensate for loses in the cool air. You should properly insulate you doors, windows and floors for any leaks that may drive cool air out of the house instead of cooling people inside

 

  • The use of thermal curtains can prevent the heat of the sun from dissipating into the room, increasing room temperature and triggering the air conditioning system to work some more. The materials used for thermal curtains can reflect solar heat back instead of being absorbed by your home.

 

  • Speaking of reflection, painting your roof flat white can help reflect the sun’s rays back. Roofs are directly exposed to the sun, heating your ceiling and the top floors and eventually increase the overall temperature in your home, and painting your roof white can be a cost-effective way of doing this.

 

  • Washing dishes or cleaning clothes need not be done in super heated water. You can lower down the temperate during cleaning operation or you can eventually stop using hot water for cleaning. Cold water can get clothes and dishes as clean as like washing them in hot water. Formulated detergents are available that will work well with cold water, so a simple switch can save you hundreds of dollars in savings from your yearly Texas electricity bills.

 

  • Lastly, you can save money of your Texas electricity bills by simply exercising your power to select electricity providers that offer better electricity rates. So shop for Texas electricity providers now and choose one that offer good services, competitive electricity rates, and lots of perks and freebies just for making the switch.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

 

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What Will a Cool Summer Mean for Electricity Companies and Consumers in Texas?

If you live in the United States, you may be living in any of the four climate regions in this nation, particularly cool, hot-arid, hot-humid, and temperate. Texas residents on the other hand experience a temperate zone if they live in the upper half of the state, or a hot-humid zone if they live in the bottom half. Last year, Texas experienced one of the worst droughts in years that tested the limits and capabilities of the Texas electric grid – causing a rash of electricityemergencies and putting the state in brink of rolling blackouts.

 

For this coming summer, many are worried that electricity rates will pull up again and they would end paying a substantial fortune for their Texas electricity bills. In a similar manner, many are also wondering what a cool summer would mean for them and the rest of the Texas consumer communities. Contrary to what pessimists would think a cool summer can happen, even if for a brief moment just like the northern wind shift and the cool front that crossed the state during the height of the brutal summer last year – providing respite from the heat for consumers and breathing room for Texas electricity companies.

 

Summertime and Texas Electricity

 

A hot summer would mean higher demands for Texas electricity which can overshoot grid reserves, resulting to substantial increases in electricity rates and the threat of rolling blackouts lurking in the background. The higher the temperature, the higher electricity usage will be just like last year when peal demand reached 68,294 megawatts during the hottest days of summer in August. A cool summer on the other hand will give enough leeway for Texas electricity companies to properly maintain their power plant machineries and prevent them from breaking due to lack of cooling water to keep temperatures down to manageable levels.

 

Tips to Cool Off and Lower Your Texas Electricity Bills This Summer

 

A cool summer would definitely be welcome for all Texas electricity companies as well as the myriad consumers wanting to cool off this summer. But you can cool off with the following tips and actually lower your Texas electricity bills – and heed calls for conservation from the state and grid officials and prevent the possibility of rolling blackouts to hit the state.

 

  • Exercise you power to select a provider that offers lower electricity rates. Note that the most well known providers don’t necessarily offer the best electricity rates so it would be best to shop for Texas electricity providers and get the best available out there.

 

  • You don’t have to run your air-conditioning system day in and day out, even when there are no people around. Save hundreds of dollars by simply using a programmable thermostat that would optimize your AC settings according to outside conditions. The recommended setting for Texans is seventy-eight degrees, enough to make you feel comfortable at home.

 

  •  Clean your air conditioning units and ensure that filters are clean to keep them running at optimum and energy efficient conditions. You can also minimize usage of your air conditioning to cool off the whole house and instead use electric fans in the rooms where you stay most often.

 

  • Choose a landscaping that would give you more shade this summer as well as funnel cool summer breezes directly towards your home. Avoid plant beds that would require you to use much water.

 

  •  Cooking indoors can generate much heat so it would be best to try grilling and cooking outdoors for that good ole Texas BBQ

 

  • Use more natural light to brighten up your house instead of using heat generating lamps

 

  • Air leaks and poor insulation in your home can make you consume more Texas electricitythan what is necessary. Have a qualified person perform a home energy audit and get more tips on how you can make your homes more energy efficient, make it cooler during summer – and save on your Texas electricity bills.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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What Will a Hot Summer Mean for Electricity Companies and Consumers in Texas?

2011 was a tumultuous year for Texas electricity companies and consumers as the state was brought to the brink of continuous blackouts during two extreme periods of hot and cold. A deep freeze experienced earlier in February last year put electricity generation equipments out of commission and knocked down several power plants. Come August, an extremely hot summer threatened more blackouts, prompting the grid operator to make repeated calls for energy conservation.

The reserved electricity capacity in the State could not cope with the growing demands for Texas electricity from commercial, residential and industrial consumers. The margin last year was only 17 percent, pushing electricity rates up with the threat of rolling blackouts that were averted as consumers exercised their power to select their energy options and heeded calls for conservation. This year, the immediate future of Texas electricity and how it will affect electricity companies and consumers will depend on what the weather brings, particularly another threat of a piping-hot summer.

 

Hot Summers and Texas Electricity

With an extremely hot summer, equipment and other power plant machineries from Texas electricity companies break down from the resulting drought hot temperatures bring. Drought means lack of water, and water is the main ingredient needed to cool down the gas, nuclear and coal-fired power plants that produce Texas electricity. According to Electric Reliability Council of Texas  (ERCOT), another hot summer could affect and put at risk at least 3,000 megawatts of generated electricity, which will definitely affect electricity rates and put the state in another round of rolling blackouts.

 

 

Conservation or Rolling Blackouts

According to ERCOT President Tripp Doggett during a recent State House hearing, the consumers in the State of Texas will have to make a choice between ramping up conservation efforts for Texas electricity or risk dealing with rolling blackouts if the State encounters another extremely hot and scorching summer as last year.

In 2011, ERCOT announced Texas electricity emergencies and called on the general public to exercise conservation to bring down consumption rates. Unlike other States, Texas has its own electric grid that is independent from other states, and this isolation will prove detrimental in seeking emergency capacities from neighboring grids – putting the state at a unique electricity risk.

 

Long Term Solutions

The ability of the Texas grid operator to keep electricity flowing smoothly across a rapidly growing state would depend on how adequate available power plants will be. However, according to ERCOT, there are no scheduled power plants of significantly large generating capacities that will come online this year. Some mileage may come from previously mothballed plants to restart operations, but aside from that no substantial capacities are expected to be added to the current margin.

Texas electricity regulators are encouraging the construction of additional power plants as long term solutions to address this capacity issue as peak demands continue to rise as the State continues to grow. Consumer groups fear that new power plants would mean higher electric rates. Environmentalists on the other hand are calling on more focused conservation measures to address the issue, pushing the Demand Response program wherein consumers will actually get paid by reducing consumption during peak hours – a program that has taken little mileage in Texas.

Another option Texas electricity commissions are looking into are making regulatory changes that would make it more convenient for wind energy generators to store large amounts of electricity in batteries. One example is the 36-megawatt battery capacity in Notrees, West Texas that is expecting completion during 2012.  This and other long term solutions are being pursued by State officials and key players in the Texas electricity industry. Until then, electricity companies and consumers would have to deal with the imminent threats the coming hot summer would bring.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

 

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