Answers to common Questions about Electricity Service

Shopping around for a new energy provider can seem overwhelming at first, but once you know what steps to take, it’s actually pretty easy. The first thing you want to ask yourself is “Is it time to switch?” Make sure that you are at the end of your contract term (you will receive a letter from your provider when the contract is almost up) or that you are on a no-contract plan. If you back out of a contract before it ends, you could be hit with an early termination fee.

 

Answers to common Questions about Electricity Service

The next question to address is “Where do I begin?” That question is easy! You can visit us online and start shopping around for a better electricity rate! We will help you compare several companies at a time, showing you their rates and plan features all in one place.

 

After that, the question becomes “Variable or fixed rate?” Variable plans change their rates every month according to market conditions. Fixed rate plans lock in your rate so it won’t be affected by market conditions for the duration of your contract. There are also prepaid plans, but those tend to have higher rates and require a lot of scrutiny to make sure you don’t use all your electricity up in a short amount of time.

 

“What are the fees?” is another good question. Every plan on a provider’s website or on our comparison lists has something called an EFL, or Electricity Facts Label. The EFL spells out the details of a specific plan, including the rate breakdown and any fees. Some fees are assessed for using too little electricity, some are for backing out of the contract early. Take a close look at the EFL so you know what the fees would be with the selected plan.

Save Electricity on Valentine’s Day

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!

Save Electricity on Valentine's DayTablet — 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.

Texas is Revolutionizing Solar Energy

The capital city of Texas, Austin, has passed a resolution that could very well bolster solar energy production, making the state a leader in solar energy. The policy mandates that Austin Electricity, the city’s municipal utility, must acquire 60% of its electricity from renewable resources over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the utility must be carbon-free by 2030. The utility also needs to increase their installed solar energy capacity by 600 megawatts by 2017, including support for 200 megawatts worth of solar panels on rooftops. Couple with the state’s already large scale wind energy production, Texas could truly revolutionize the solar energy generation of the country.

Texas is Revolutionizing Solar Energy

These measures go beyond environmental protection. Ultimately, the decision to increase renewable energy capacity is a matter of economics. Earlier this year, Austin Energy signed a PPA (power purchase agreement) with solar energy developer Recurrent Energy for a reasonably low price. At 5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), this rate is one of the lowest available rates for solar energy. By cutting the cost of renewables, more renewables can be used, increasing demand and production, ultimately driving down the cost of renewables across the board.

Using solar energy to stave off the peak demand on coal and natural gas, Texas can save money overall. By balancing the load with renewables, the demand for non-renewables will decrease, reducing the peak demand operating costs. As a result, Decker Power Plant, a natural gas powered generation facility was closed. This facility was used solely for providing energy during peak demand. While it may seem counter productive to close a facility and surrender jobs, the renewable energy market will open up more, thus creating more jobs.

Furthermore, the increase of demand for solar energy production has actually dropped the prices on consumer grade solar panels. This opens the market more for homeowners who wish to purchase solar modules. This in turn creates more manufacturing jobs to keep up with the demand for solar power. Estimates indicate that 2014 will see a 50% increase in solar array manufacturing from 2013.

Much of Texas’ renewable electricity comes from wind, with an estimated 12,755 megawatts of installed capacity, the largest in the country. Solar has not flourished as well because support for it has been lacking. Hopefully, the new policies from the Austin city council will spur demand for solar energy. Previously, federal incentives were the only incentives available and there was only a capacity goal, rather than a percentage goal, like there is now. However, despite this, Texas has already passed its 2025 goal of 10,000 megawatts of renewable capacity over 10 years ahead of schedule.

What you should know about your Thermostat this Summer?

With the summer temps already hitting 90°F, we’re all cranking up the AC by bringing our thermostats to the lowest settings possible. But, did you know that maintaining these low temperatures is doing a number on your electricity bill? If you are maintaining your house temperature at 68° all day long, you are paying at least 10-15% more on your electricity bill. For just eight hours per day, setting your thermostat 10-15° higher will save that wasted energy. Do this when you’re asleep and out at work to maximize your savings, which can range from 1-3% per degree higher.
By installing a programmable thermostat, you can let the thermostat do all the temp setting for you. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature for different parts of the day, and it will turn your AC on or off when the trigger temperatures are reached. You can set the thermostat to be 68° from the time you get home to when you go to bed, set it to 78° while you are asleep, 72° in the morning as you get ready for work, and 78° while at work. This can net you a significant savings on electricity usage.
Programmable thermostats are not for everyone, though. While they aren’t very complicated to program, they do have limitations with certain types of heating equipment. Heat pumps work like an air conditioner in cooling mode, but in heating mode, setting the temperature below your preferred temp is actually inefficient for the system. Any savings you would gain from lowering the temperature, you would lose to the inefficiency. Electric resistance systems like baseboard heating requires a special line voltage programmable thermostat to run.
with steam and radiant heat systems, it can take hours to reach the set temperature on your thermostat. Some newer programmable thermostats can “learn” how to optimize your heating needs around this, but you can also set the thermostat to begin warming up a few hours before waking up or coming home.
To further maximize your energy savings, set the thermostat a little higher than normal for your at-home temperature. Remember, you can save 1-3% per degree over the course of eight hours when you raise your thermostat higher. Closing blinds or curtains during the day will keep out extra sunlight and also keep you home cooler. This means that you won’t hit the “on” temperature as often, and you’ll hit the “off” temperature more quickly. By optimizing your home to take advantage of airflow and shade, you can vastly improve the efficiency of your AC.
You have the power to choose the best method for heating and cooling your home. In addition to saving electricity and therefore money, you could switch to a new provider that offers cheaper electricity rates. You can also pick a plan that offers renewable energy options to contribute to the well-being of the environment as well.