Knowing your Options when it comes to Light Bulbs



There are several options to consider when lighting your home. Incandescent bulbs are on their way out, with the federal ban on them beginning in 2007 and the full phase out scheduled for this year. There are also compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) which have a distinct curly or multi tubed shapes. There are also light emitting diode (LED) bulbs that use several small diodes to light the whole bulb. Both CFLs and LEDs are more efficient than incandescents, so they use about 80-85% less electricity. That energy savings adds up to a lot of cash, too, considering that lighting can account for up to 25% of your electricity bill.

The incandescent light bulbs we know today were a culmination of several inventors. The first was invented in 1802 by Humphry Davy using a platinum filament. Incandescence is heating a wire filament to the point where it glows. Many early incandescent bulbs contained carbonized bamboo filaments. Several other patents were issued and Thomas Edison help streamline the commercialization of the light bulbs in the late 1800s. However, it was the Hungarian and Croatian team of Sandor Just and Franjo Hanaman that invented the tungsten filament incandescent bulb in 1904 that we use today. The downside to incandescent lights is that 90% the energy consumed is given off as heat. The remaining 10% of energy is the light that we see. These bulbs are terribly inefficient, requiring a lot of energy for very little light. These bulbs also only last about 1200 hours, or about 2 years worth of use at a rate of 3 hours per day.

Compact fluorescent lamps use between 75-80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs to give off the same amount of light. Instead of heating a wire filament, a CFL bulb is filled with argon gas and a small amount of mercury vapor. They can last about 10,000 hours or 9 years based on 3 hours of use per day. With the energy they save, they pay for themselves in about 9 months, but some people are leery of their use because of their mercury content. They only contain about 4 milligrams of mercury. For comparison, a mercury based household thermometer contains about 500 milligrams of mercury. Some bulbs contain as little as 1 milligram of mercury per bulb. CFLs also can take some time to reach full brightness, and they are not good with constant cycling (turning on and off).

Light emitting diodes are made from semiconductors that are attached to electric leads, and when the juice starts flowing, the diode emits a brilliant light. LEDs are 80-90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 100,000 hours. Their lifespan is about 25 years with 3 hours of use per day. These bulbs, with their long lifespan, low cost to use, and low energy consumption, they are the ideal source of light for our homes. The biggest downside to LEDs is the cost per bulb is relatively high.

Besides switching to energy efficient bulbs, you can lower your monthly bills by switching to a Houston electricity company that offers cheap electricity. You have the power to choose your energy provider. Shop Houston Electricity can help you sort through plans by provider, price, and options like renewable energy. The cheapest electric rates are at your fingertips!

Low Cost, High Electricity Quality

Prior to the 2002 bill that deregulated the Texas energy market, cheap electricity wasn’t really a possibility. Utilities determined the rate you paid for electricity, and if you didn’t like the rate, you couldn’t change to another utility unless you moved to another part of the state. However, once deregulated, the market was opened up for competition between different energy providers. This significantly decreased the prices paid by the consumers. Some people believe that the electricity from a company offering cheap electricity is inferior to one charging a higher rate. Fortunately, the saying of “you get what you pay for” doesn’t really apply to the Texas electricity market.

Utilities are still very much a part of the energy network. However, they only maintain the power lines that deliver your electricity. Retail Energy Providers (REPs) purchase shares of electricity from generation facilities like nuclear plants, wind farms, and coal plants. They then sell this electricity to you, the consumer. Regardless of who your REP is, the electricity is being transmitted over the same lines, so there is no difference in the quality of electricity. Each REP may have varying levels of customer service, but higher priced REPs are not always better and lower priced REPs are not always bad.

Besides being able to choose your provider, you also have the power to choose the plan you want for your electric service. Some plans vary based on contract length, with longer contracts having a lower rate that gets locked in and won’t change even if retail rates go up, other plans offer renewable energy. If you are interested in having your home powered by renewable energy, check the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for the plans offered by a REP. The EFL will tell you exactly how much of the electricity is generated from renewable sources. Some REPs exclusively offer renewable plans, so every plan will be 100% renewable energy.

When it comes to contract lengths, it’s best to consider your current situation and energy needs. If you’ve just moved to the state and are still looking for an energy provider, find one with a variable rate monthly plan. The rate for these plans will go up or down based on market conditions, but there is no penalty if you decide to switch providers. If you’re ready to settle in for the long term, contracts vary in length between 3 months and 36 months. When you choose a fixed rate plan with a contract, your rate will remain the same, despite any changes in market conditions, whether good or bad. You could also be penalized if you back out of the contract before it ends.

Just remember that no matter whom your provider is, your electricity quality will always be high quality. And whenever you switch providers, your service will not be interrupted. On your switch date, billing will be transferred from your old provider to your new one, but your power will continue to flow for the whole transfer. Houstonians, compare and shop electric rates from providers with Shop Houston Electricity.

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.



 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.



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.



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.

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.