Summer Energy Efficiency

Summertime brings with it high energy bills due to the need to keep our homes cool in the intense heat. One of the best ways to keep your energy bills low is to choose a Houston electricity provider with cheap electricity rates. There are also ways to reduce your Houston electricity usage, which will allow you to keep cool while saving energy and money. Most of these methods require no extra cost, just simple, easy to implement actions.

 

  • Thermostats — Keep the thermostat set as high as you can tolerate. Every degree above your preferred temp can save you 1-3% on your AC energy use. Shut the thermostat off at night and open your windows to let in natural, cool air. This will keep your AC from running all night. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature of your house year-round. The programmable thermostat will run the AC or heat only when you set it to, so it can remain off overnight or while you are at work.
  • Fans — Ceiling fans can help you feel cool while using less electricity than an AC unit. Using fans in conjunction with the AC will allow you to set the temperature even higher and still remain comfortable.
  • Landscaping — Strategic placement of trees and shrubs can shade your home in the summer, keeping your home’s temperature lower. These plants can also serve as windbreaks, which can reduce the energy use in the winter by 20-40%.
  • Windows — Install windows with an argon gas filling to reduce solar gain and heat loss for the summer and winter, respectively. You can also coat windows with a low-e film to help with this. Also consider installing removable or retractable awnings on southern-facing sides of your home. The shade will reduce the amount of solar gain and provide a shaded area to sit outside. Remove or retract the awnings for the winter to gain the benefit of solar gain.
  • Roof — Reflective roofs can reduce the roof’s temperature by up to 60°F, which will keep your attic space much cooler and reduce your energy needs. A green roof can also be used to reduce roof temperatures while providing a green space where you can plant flowers or foods despite limited property space.
  • Maintenance — Maintain your AC system by cleaning or replacing the filter every 1-3 months and getting a tune-up every 6-12 months. Keep your AC running efficiently to ensure the airflow is high and energy use is low.

 

You can beat the heat and keep greener in your wallet by using these tips and signing up with a Houston electricity company that will provide you with cheap electricity. Shop Houston Electricity helps you find the best deal from competing energy providers and gives you the power to choose the provider and the plan that’s right for you.

Saving on your Electricity Bill

Choosing an electricity provider that offers cheap electricity is a great way to save on your energy bill, but there are a lot of other ways to save. Using less energy and making your home more efficient will net you huge savings that can benefit you year round. Most of these tips are easy to implement and won’t cost you anything. Some of them require replacing inefficient parts of your home. While these will cost you extra money and time, they will often pay for themselves in energy savings.

 

Refrigerators

Keep your refrigerator set between 37° and 40°F and your freezer between 0° and 5°F to maximize efficiency. Keep the fridge as full as possible, but don’t stuff it. There needs to be some gaps for the cooled air to get around. If you have a lot of empty space in your fridge, fill it with gallon jugs of water. Vacuum the condenser coils every three months to keep them working efficiently. Allow foods to cool before storing them in the fridge, and remove all ingredients at once before cooking, to keep the door from being open too long. If your fridge is more than 12 years old, consider upgrading to an energy efficient Energy Star certified model.

 

Cooking

Use the smallest appliance for the job. Microwaves and crock pots use a lot less electricity than ovens and stove tops. When using the oven, remember to keep the door shut. Every time you open it, you can lose up to 50°F of heat. Avoid using the self cleaning function unless you really need it.

 

Cleaning

Scrape off food bits before washing your plates in a dishwasher. Soak or prewash only if the plates really need it. Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes in their respective washers. The machines use the same amount of energy, whether it’s a full load or quarter load. Use only recommended amounts of cleaning agents. Too much can decrease the efficiency of your machine. Clean lint filters after every wash, and let clothes air dry whenever possible.

 

Water Heaters

Water heaters are set to 140°F by default, but lowering that setting to 120°F can save you up to 10% on your energy bill. Insulate the hot water pipes leading from your water heater. Uninsulated pipes lose their heat pretty fast, meaning you get less hot water in your home and waste energy. Every year, drain a few gallons of water out of the water heater to get rid of sediment buildup. This sediment can keep the water from heating efficiently, making the heater work harder.

 

Lights

Clean the dust out of light fixtures. This is primarily a safety precaution to prevent fires, but clean fixtures can prevent overheating of the bulbs which can cause them to break sooner. Use small desk lamps or lighting fixtures for desks and workbenches. This saves you from needing to light an entire room for a small task. When leaving a room, be sure to shut the lights off. Finally, switching to energy efficient CFLs or LEDs will save energy, and these bulbs last much longer than old incandescent bulbs.

 

Heating and Cooling

Set your thermostat a few degrees above (summer) or below (winter) your preferred temperature to save energy. Each degree can amount to 1-3% of savings. Use a humidifier in the winter when it’s dry. This helps you feel warmer than the temperature setting itself. In the summer, use fans in conjunction with the AC. Fans create a wind chill when you are under them, making you feel cooler.

 

Electronics

Laptops use less electricity than desktops, so use those whenever possible. Don’t leave computers running when not in use. This draws a lot of electricity and can also wear out the computer faster. Put them into a sleep mode or turn them off if you won’t be using them for a while. Unplug the electronics in entertainment centers as even though they are off, they still draw electricity. Plugging all of the electronics into a power strip can save you a lot of hassle, as you can just unplug the power strip to shut everything off completely.

 

All in all, just be conscious of the energy you use daily. Take steps to reduce the amount of energy wasted and you will see your savings increase. If you are looking to replace any appliances or electronics, consider purchasing Energy Star certified products, as they are 20-30% more efficient than their counterparts. Remember that in addition to these tips, you have the power to choose your Houston electricity provider. Shop Houston Energy can help you find a provider that offers cheap electricity, giving you even more ways to save.

Digging Deep into Electricity Deregulation

Deregulation is just a fancy term for giving consumers the power to choose their own electricity plan. For over a decade, Texas electricity rates have dropped thanks to this deregulated market. No longer could utilities monopolize the energy market, charging whatever they felt, because consumers couldn’t switch providers. Now, utilities have split into three categories: TDSPs, REPs, and Power Generators. Transmission and Distribution Service Providers (TDSPs) are what remains of the original utility. They are sometimes called the “wires company” or “utility,” but they no longer solely determine the price of electricity.

 

Power Generators

Power generating facilities, like wind and solar farms, coal power plants, nuclear power plants, or natural gas power plants all generate electricity and feed it to the local grid, which is maintained by the TDSP. Aside from when new laws affect the regulations governing electricity generation, such as new environmental restrictions, power generators don’t really directly affect your electricity cost, if you have a locked in rate.

 

TDSP

 The TDSP maintains the power lines that bring electricity to your home, read your meter, and restore power if it is lost. Part of your electricity bill reflects a charge for the service of delivering electricity to you over these lines, but like the power generators, they don’t have much direct effect over your bill.

 

REP

REPs are the newest part of the deregulated market. Retail Electricity Providers directly sell you electricity, based on market conditions. These market conditions affect the cost of your electricity. If trade routes or supply becomes stringent, new or variable rate customers will see higher rates for their month to month bill. When you have a fixed rate plan, your rate won’t go up or down until your contract is up for renewal. Contracts can last between 3 and 36 months, usually. Fixed rate plans give you security against sudden rate hikes due to weather, conflict, or supply disruptions, but should market conditions become more favorable, you are still locked into the higher rate.

 

Plans

Most plans between REPs are the same. Variable rate plans allow you to change at any time, but the rates are generally higher and are directly affected by market conditions. Fixed rate plans are locked in for the duration of your contract, barring any change in policies enacted by the government. Plans can also include energy from renewable sources like solar or wind, and the plan’s Electricity Facts Label (EFL) will tell you what percentage of the electricity comes from renewable sources.
If you’re looking for the cheapest electricity rates in Houston, Shop Houston Electricity will help you in your search. Whether you’re looking for variable rate plans, fixed plans, renewable plans, or just cheap electricity, Shop Houston will scour the competing REPs to find you the best deal, giving you the power to choose the electricity that’s right for you.