Energy Star products lower electric bills

Energy efficiency saw a major upturn beginning in 1992 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started the Energy Star program. The program was designed to take new and existing products and improve their overall energy efficiency. This was to help combat the growing effects seen by pollution and mining for fossil fuels and gas. Energy is a voluntary program, meaning that people have to willingly participate by purchasing Energy Star certified products, but how exactly does a product become Energy Star Certified?

The Energy Star logo may be commonplace to some. You can often find it adorning the box of an appliance or electronic device, but that little logo represents a big improvement. To get this badge of honor, a product needs to be at least 20% more efficient than the minimum energy efficiency standard for that product class. High efficiency Energy Star products are typically 30% more efficient. In addition to the energy efficiency, the products still need to fulfill their intended purpose without losing quality. That is to say, for example, a refrigerator can’t just be 20-30% more efficient, it still has to keep contents cool to the temperature set by the user. The products cannot sacrifice quality for efficiency.

Energy Star rated products often cost more than their uncertified brethren. In this case, the Energy Star version must be able to recoup the cost difference in energy savings within a reasonable amount of time. The Energy Star label also needs to show the energy use difference between the qualified product and other models. This gives consumers the power to choose a product that will most benefit their needs. The methods for improving efficiency do not need to come from a single manufacturer (i.e. the product manufacturer) but can come from third party manufacturers using nonproprietary technology.

There are certain factors that can affect the standards necessary for a product to be Energy Star certified. If the Federal minimum efficiency standard increases, so too will the minimum requirement for certification. As technology improves, Energy Star may set higher goals for already efficient products to be even more efficient. Once products reach efficiency levels over 50%, Energy Star tends to reevaluate them and look for ways to further improve on their efficiency. Product availability, performance, and quality can affect the requirements for certification. This includes incidents where consumers are not seeing the promised energy savings promised by the label.

Coupled with cheap electricity rates in Houston, Energy Star rated products can really save you a bundle on your home energy costs. Shop Houston Electricity will help you sort through Houston electricity companies, finding one with a low rate or one that provides renewable energy for your home.

Power To Choose – Go Green, Go Clean

All over Texas, wind farms have been cropping up, providing clean, renewable energy for much of the state. Your Houston electricity company more than likely offers this type of energy for use in your home. You have the power to choose several different plans, and many of them use renewable energy like wind power. Under the plan description, in the Electricity Facts Label (EFL), it will tell you how much of your electricity was generated using renewable sources. By purchasing a plan with renewable energy, you are helping fund the renewable energy sector, creating green jobs, and making your voice heard for cleaner, more sustainable power.

            Green energy plans tend to cost a little more than typical plans, but the extra cost goes to cover the expenses incurred for the power generation, maintenance, and integration into the local grid. In some areas where renewable energy is not directly sent into the local grid, you can purchase green credits. Green credits essentially go toward paying for renewable electricity generation in another area, but you are still contributing to a greener world. Electricity is electricity regardless of how it is generated and there is no difference between coal fired electricity and wind generated electricity. But, green credits go toward funding the renewable energy sector while still supplying you with electricity from other sources.

            Some energy markets let you choose where your electricity is generated from. You essentially are buying shares of electricity from particular sources, covering the costs of generating the electricity from that particular source. Whether wind, water, solar, coal, or gas, you pay for the energy source you want to succeed. While most people look to find cheap electricity rates in Houston, those who spend a little more to contribute to a more sustainable energy market will make the future brighter for all of us.

            When shopping for renewable electricity, the retail electricity provider will display the percentage of renewable energy. For example, it might say 12% renewable or 100% renewable. The higher the percentage is the more renewable electricity it contains. You can contribute to Earth Day by signing up with a renewable electric plan that helps the environment. If are already going green in your home, then why not go green with your powering your home. If you are a business owner, you can even have a green electricity plan for your business. Do you part for the environment and help out mother nature. 

Appliance Shopping Tips and Tricks

power to choose

Looking for a new or replacement appliance can be difficult if you’re unsure of what kind to get. While many tend to shop by price, it’s important to look into the appliance’s energy consumption as well, as that will cost you money over the years it’s used. The higher the energy consumption, the more the appliance will cost per month. Even if you have cheap electricity rates in Houston, those kilowatt hours will add up over time. To help combat this potentially high operating cost, look into purchasing a certified Energy Star appliance.

Whether you get an energy star product or not, you can easily tell the appliance’s operating cost by viewing the Energy Guide label. All appliances are required by the federal government to have this Energy Guide label. The label is easy to spot; it’s bright yellow with black text. The label identifies the manufacturer, model number, and size, as well as an estimated yearly operating cost and energy use. If the appliance is certified by Energy Star, this label will display the Energy Star logo as well.

Energy Star certified products are roughly 20-30% more efficient than their uncertified counterparts. Appliances aren’t the only products to get Energy Star certification. Electronics, water heaters, and windows can also be certified, and will help you save a bundle on your Texas electricity. Your appliances can last about a decade, so it’s wise to pick one that will use as little electricity as possible.

Just like the Energy Guide label helps you compare similar appliances, Shop Houston helps you to compare several different Houston electricity companies. In turn, you get the power to choose the cheap electricity in Houston that best suits your needs. Whether it’s a month to month plan, a year long contract, or green energy you’re looking for, Shop Houston will give you the options so you can choose an energy plan that fits you.

Understand Your Electric Bill

Looking at your electricity bill can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you see a lot of terms that you’re unfamiliar with. We’ll give you a good look at the common terms and their meanings so your next electric bill won’t be so intimidating.



  • Base Charge — This is the flat fee you pay every month for electricity service.
  • Current Charges — This is the total amount due on your bill.
  • Demand Charge — This charge is based on how much electricity is used during a high demand period.
  • Energy Charge — This is the cost based on how many kilowatt hours (kWh) were consumed by your home or business.
  • Meter Charge — This is the cost of sending someone to read your electricity meter.
  • Recurring Charges — Any charges that occur monthly outside of your service plan will be listed under this.
  • Non-Recurring Charges — Fees like late charges, returned check fees, and restoration of service charges will be listed as a single charge under this.
  • Amount Due — Any unpaid balances from a previous bill will be listed as an amount due.
  • New Services or Products — Any new features that have been added to your service since your last bill will be listed here.
  • Change in Rates — If you have a variable rate plan, where your cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) changes from month to month, you will see the difference between you current rate and previous month’s rate here.
  • Late Payment Penalty — If you’re late paying your bill, you will be assessed a one time fee of up to 5% of your bill amount. Outstanding balances cannot be re-penalized and they do not apply to residential or small commercial consumers on the Provider of Last Resort (POLR).
  • City Sales Tax — Sales tax collected by the state, city, or municipality you reside in.
  • Advanced Metering Systems Surcharge — If your home or business has a smart or advanced meter, you will find this charge on your bill for its use.
  • Competition Transition Charge — You may see this charge if you switch from one TDU to another.
  • Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery Factor — This is essentially a passed down cost recovery for the implementation of energy efficiency programs and systems.
  • PUC Assessment — Fee for administering the Public Utility Regulatory Act.
  • REP Charges — Some Retail Energy Providers (REPs) incorporate all their charges into the price per kWh, but others may list each individual charge separately under this heading.
  • TDU Delivery Charges — This is the cost to get the electricity to your home.
  • Transmission and Distribution Surcharges — Any surcharges the TDU adds will be listed here.
  • Transition Charge — Utilities are allowed to recoup costs for securitization of debt caused by the deregulation of the energy sector. This charge covers the cost of transactions for the purposes of this recovery.
  • System Benefit Fund — This charge, set by the Public Utility Commission, pays for energy efficiency and education programs. The cost cannot exceed 65 cents per megawatt hour (MWh).
  • Miscellaneous Gross Receipts Tax Reimbursement — This fee helps REPs recover the cost of the aforementioned tax for towns and cities having a population greater than 1000 people.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that these bill charges are state regulation. These charges would apply regardless if you were with the local utility company or a retail electricity provider. Texas deregulation gives customers the freedom of electricity choice. Benefits of shopping with a retail electricity provider (REP), are that there are plenty of plans for customers to choose from for their electricity needs.

Everyone Should Have Choices

power-to-choose

Everyone loves choices. We choose what to watch on television, our nightly meal, and our energy provider. It wasn’t always so simple; Texas only recently was given the ability to choose that last option. Prior to 2002, energy consumers could only purchase electricity through utility companies, which often had high rates since they essentially cornered the market. After Texas deregulated the energy market, utilities no longer monopolized the market, and multiple retail energy providers (REPs) popped up, inciting competition to lower energy costs.

The old way of getting electricity was for it to be generated at a power facility, like a nuclear plant, coal plant, wind farm, or solar farm. Then, the utility would sell the electricity to home and business owners and transfer the electricity to them. After deregulation, REPs stepped in to sell the electricity. Utilities still distribute the electricity over the wires, manage the electrical grid, and address any outages.

With all of these new choices, you may feel overwhelmed, especially if you’re switching to a new provider. Fortunately, Shop Houston gives you the power to choose the provider that’s best for you. We help you sort through all of the providers available to you, and filter them by rate plans, green energy plans, and cost. When switching from one provider to another, you won’t need to worry about any lapse in service. Once you pick your switch day, your service will be transferred to the energy provider of your choosing and will continue uninterrupted.

Deregulation has brought choice and opportunity to people looking for cheap electricity rates in Houston. Contact Shop Houston and make the switch to a better provider today!