Everything you need to know if you’re moving to Texas this summer

May 20, 2020   By Jenna Careri

Everything you need to know if you’re moving to Texas this summer

Texas is one of the country’s hotspots – for moving and weather! Over 365,000 people moved to Texas from 2018 to 2019, adding up to more than 1,000 people per day. Last year, four Texas cities ranked in the top ten nationally for population growth.

Meanwhile, summer temperatures across the state average upwards of 90 degrees in July, from Amarillo in the north to Laredo and Harlingen in the south. If summer is the season of moving, it’s also the season of cranked AC units and high energy bills in the Lone Star State.

If you’re moving to Texas this summer, here’s what to know as you prepare for your move, and how to make sure you’ve got energy under control in your new home.

How COVID-19 has changed life in Texas

It’s no secret that moving this summer poses some different challenges than in years past, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact residents across the country. In Texas, the governor issued a stay-at-home order from April 2 to April 30, and the state is now in phase one of its reopening plan.

This means that approved businesses including retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls have reopened at 25 percent capacity, or 50 percent capacity in rural counties with few reported cases.

As for electricity, the pandemic has not affected Texas energy supply and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) which manages a majority of the state’s energy market predicts a normal summer. This means energy rates will be on the rise – not due to the virus but rather because of the typical high temperatures the state sees.

One move of note for new Texans in an uncertain time: the Public Utility Commission of Texas has enacted a moratorium on electricity and water shutoffs through July 17. Many retail electric providers (REPs) are also offering bill help to customers facing financial difficulties.

Deregulated energy in Texas

If you are moving from a regulated area, chances are you’re used to getting your electricity directly from your utility company. Texas, however, has a deregulated energy market in most parts of the state. This means that residents must choose a retail electric provider (REP). There is not an option to purchase energy directly from the utility company.

While this may seem more confusing, it offers Texans a chance to better control their energy bills by choosing an electricity rate, provider, and plan that works for them. Here’s how it works:

  1. Compare plans. You can shop for plans on individual provider websites or a marketplace site, like SaveOnEnergy. When you enter your ZIP code, we’ll show you plans from many different providers in your area so it’s easier to compare.
  2. Sign up. When you’ve found a provider, rate, and plan that’s right for your home, you can sign up online or over the phone. It only takes a few minutes. You’ll get a confirmation email in your inbox.
  3. Prepare for your move. Once you have your confirmation email, your work is done. Your new provider will set your electricity up for you on the date you chose. Most homes in Texas have smart meters which means a technician doesn’t need to visit your home to turn on your service.

Your area’s utility company will still deliver your power and maintain the lines around your home, and that is who you call if you experience an outage. For questions or concerns about your electricity plan, rate, or contract, contact your energy provider.

Picking an electricity plan

For movers new to the deregulated system, choosing an electricity plan from the variety of options can be overwhelming. What it really comes down to is a few factors:

  • Type of plan
  • Term length
  • Payment option
  • Provider

Type of plan typically refers to fixed and variable structures. When shopping for electricity in Texas, it’s important to realize that electricity prices fluctuate all the time and, depending on which type of plan you choose, those changes may be reflected on your bill each month.

  • A fixed energy plan is one where your rate does not change for the duration of your contract, even if market prices fluctuate.
  • A variable energy plan has a changing rate that follows the market.
  • Fixed plans are the more stable of the two options, though variable plans allow you to profit from market lows.

Term length is the length of your contract. Plans are available for between one and 36 months, depending on which type of plan you choose. For payment options, REPs in Texas offer prepaid as well as more traditional, postpaid plans.

  • Prepaid electricity plans often allow customers to avoid paying a deposit and do not require credit checks but may have higher rates.
  • Postpaid plans represent the majority of electricity plan options and are similar to the plan you would have through the utility in a regulated area.

The final element to choosing an electricity plan is the provider. Deregulation means that any company can enter the market as a retail electric provider. There are hundreds of REPs to choose from, which you can compare on a marketplace site such as SaveOnEnergy. Not all REPs are trustworthy, so we vet all the providers in our marketplace to make sure their reputation holds up. To see the REPs available in your area, enter your ZIP code above.

Texas seasonality and summer price spikes

As previously mentioned, electricity prices in Texas change frequently. Sometimes this is good for residents, allowing them to find cheaper rates on energy plans. Sometimes, though, this means expensive spikes that can be reflected in home energy bills.

These spikes happen most frequently in the summer, when temperatures in Texas are high and energy demand is high, too. Sometimes, ERCOT will issue an energy emergency alert when energy reserves dip too low.

To protect yourself from these challenges, it is important to choose a plan that is appropriate for your home size and energy usage before moving to Texas. Plan to rely heavily on your AC through the summer months, since odds are it’s going to be hot.

You’ll be able to filter plans in the SaveOnEnergy marketplace by home size and usage so you can better see your options. If you have questions or aren’t sure how much energy you’ll use in your new home, give one of our experts a call. They’ll help you find a plan that fits your needs so you can cross one more thing off your moving to do list.

 

Jenna is a writer covering the environment and energy industry. She is a Massachusetts native and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and French.

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