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.
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.
With its wide open areas and relatively constant and predictable wind, Texas is a world leader in wind energy production. On March 26, 2014, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas declared that Texas broke a wind energy production record at 8:48 pm. The wind turbines in the state generated 10,296 megawatts (MW) of electricity at that time, which was equal to about 29% of the 36,000 MW of total electricity produced at that time. The 10,296 MW of electricity produced at that time was also the most electricity produced by any United States wind power system to date, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Turbines along the Gulf Coast supplied 1,433 MW, or about 14% of the total amount of wind energy produced while turbines mostly located in West Texas provided the other 86%. West Texas is a major contender on the wind scene, especially since it is home to numerous Competitive Renewable Energy Zones that generate wind and directly integrate it into local grids. As of April 2014, there is about 11,000 MW of wind energy generators online and another 8,000 MW worth of generators scheduled to come online over the following months. From 2012 to 2013, wind power in Texas grew from 0.7% of the total grid’s energy to 9.9% of the grid’s total energy throughout the state.
Wind is an excellent source of cheap electricity and ERCOT is looking to expand it as much as possible. As the nation’s leader of wind energy production, Texas is paving the way for how to develop and harness this powerful resource. Several regions of the country are following Texas’ example and continuing to develop wind power. Some of them are not far behind, either. The Midwest Independent System Operator which covers from North and South Dakota to Michigan and Indiana had a record wind output of 10,012 MW in 2012. Xcel Energy of Colorado met 60% of the grid demand at 1:00 am on May 24, 2013.
If the current rate of expansion keeps up, we are sure to see more wind energy records in the years to come as well as a widespread infrastructure to support wind generated electricity. You can help contribute to the public demand for wind energy by harnessing your power to choose an energy provider and plan that offers renewable energy. Every voice that demands clean, renewable energy is another step toward a sustainable energy plan for the nation.
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.