Having a deregulated energy market means that you have a choice as to what provider and type of plan you want. You can choose from a prepaid plan, a variable rate plan, and a fixed rate plan. Any one of those could also be a green energy plan, where some or all of the energy comes from renewable resources like wind energy.
Prepaid plans let you pay for electricity up to a certain amount for use the following month. Once you reach that limit, the electricity is shut off unless you add more money to the prepaid account. They typically have a high rate per kilowatt hour (kWh)
Variable Rate Plan
Variable rate plans have no contract length, so you can switch from one at any time, but the rates will vary from month to month. These plans could be lower or higher than a fixed rate plan, depending on market conditions.
Fixed Rate Plan
Fixed rate plans lock in your energy rate for the duration of your contract length. Regardless of how the market fluctuates, you will continue paying the same rate. Starting a fixed rate plan when rates are typically lower will ensure you get a good rate for the year. However, if you sign up for a fixed rate plan and cancel before your contract expires, you could be faced with an early termination fee.
All plans available in Texas have an electricity facts label (EFL) that details exactly what your plan entails. It will specify contract length, amount of renewable energy, and various costs associated with the plan. The EFL is designed to give consumers full disclosure, so there are no surprises when you get your bill in the mail.
It’s just about tax season once again. Most people aren’t particularly thrilled about filing taxes especially with the potential to owe money. However, if you’ve made some green investments last year, you may be able to receive some breaks. The federal government offers different incentives for tax credits related to energy efficiency.
If you have constructed or renovated a building to use half the amount of energy a building built to the standard model codes, you could be getting some money back from Uncle Sam. Other incentives include purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle and on-site renewable energy systems like geothermal heat pumps and solar panels.
Even if you aren’t able to renovate a whole building, other measures to increase energy efficiency can provide you with tax credits. Installing insulation, replacing windows, skylights, and doors, green roofs, and sealing a building’s shell all count toward energy efficiency and tax credits. In order to qualify for the credit, any renovations you make must conform to the 2009 IECC specifications. You may then fill out IRS form 5695 to get credits ranging from $200 to $500. If you would like more information on how to meet the IECC specifications, the Tax Incentives Assistance Project can help you get started.
Valentines is all about showing your sweetheart how much they mean to you, and that is often conveyed through gifts. Show your sweetie how much you care for them AND the environment by giving these energy efficient gifts!
• Tablet — Tablet computers are becoming increasingly popular because they can do so much in such a small device. What makes them even more awesome is that they can do most of the things we use our desktops and laptops for while not consuming nearly as much electricity.
• Solar Charger — We spend a lot of time on our phones and tablets, and sometimes we end up charging them up frequently. With a solar powered charger, you can harness the power of the sun to generate some green energy for your wireless devices! Even better, by using this charger instead of the wall plug, you can save energy from being lost just by leaving the wall plug plugged into the wall.
• Learning Thermostat — A learning thermostat, like the Nest can save you a lot of money over the course of a year by reducing energy usage for heating and cooling your home. This device learns your preferred climate control patterns so you never have to worry about when to turn on the thermostat or forget to turn it off! Fleece Blanket — Usually, Valentine’s can be in the midst of cold temperatures, so bundle your honey up with a nice warm blanket! Snuggling is highly encouraged.