What not to do when shopping for an energy plan

September 21, 2020   By Jenna Careri

What not to do when shopping for an energy plan

Here at SaveOnEnergy, we know that shopping for the right electricity plan can be anything but simple. Texas’ deregulated energy market has opened the floodgates of choice for Texas consumers, which means more options and more decisions to make.

Overwhelmingly, though, deregulation has been good for the Lone Star State, keeping electricity rates well below the national average. So how can you make the most of your power to choose? Here are our top tips for the best energy shopping experience possible.

1. Don’t just go for the cheapest rate

This is the biggest piece of advice we give to our users – we say it so often you’ll be sick of hearing it! But we talk about it so much because it’s true. Electricity plans in Texas are not structured in straightforward ways. On top of that, electricity prices change multiple times a day.

Depending on your plan structure (including rate type, usage tiers, bill credits, and more) the cheapest sticker price today might add up to a high bill later. We’ll go over this in more detail below.

2. Don’t overlook the details

Since you won’t just be going for the cheapest electric rate, you’ll want to make sure you check the details of any plan you’re considering signing up for. The Electricity Facts Label (EFL) is your best friend for this. Here’s what to look for:

  • Rate Type. This is the first big factor in understanding what your bill may look like. There are two main types of rates, fixed and variable. This may also be listed as “Type of Product.”
    • A fixed rate is set for the duration of your contract. You may still have usage tiers, but all the prices will be set upfront and will not change, even if the market does.
    • A variable rate changes, usually monthly, based on fluctuations in the market. When energy demand is low, your rate could be too. When energy demand is high, your rate may follow.
  • Usage Tiers. You’ll see any tiers listed in the “Electricity Price” or “Energy Charges” section. If a plan has usage tiers, make sure it makes sense for your average usage. Let’s look at a few examples:
    • A plan may charge a $80 flat fee if you use up to 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and another $80 for 1,001 to 2,000 kWh. This means you’ll be on the hook for $160 whether you use 1,001 kWh or 1,500 kWh.
    • A plan may charge 5.2¢/kWh up to 1,500 kWh but raise the price to 11.6¢/kWh if you use 1,501 kWh or more. This could be a great plan if you have low usage, but a bad choice if you frequently use more than 1,500 kWh.
    • A plan may offer free electricity on weekends but an expensive rate during the week. This is good if you’re home most often on the weekends, but pricey if you work from home all week.
  • Bill Credits. Also labeled as “Usage Credits,” these are money-back offers that you receive for using a designated about of kWh. Let’s say a plan offers $75 off your bill when you use between 1,000 and 2,000 kWh. If your usage always falls in that range, it could be a great deal. If your usage is regularly below or above that range, it’s probably not the plan for you.

3. Don’t be afraid of providers you haven’t heard of before

There are so many retail electric providers (REPs) on the Texas market, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. How do you know if they’re a good company? How do you know you’re getting what you pay for? It can be tempting to go straight for a provider whose name you know, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But at SaveOnEnergy, we recommend you consider all your options.

We vet all the providers we show in our marketplace so you can be sure they are trustworthy, even if you’ve never heard of them before. If you find a great plan in our marketplace from a lesser-known brand, try it out! You may end up liking it. If not, come back to SaveOnEnergy and we’ll help you switch.

4. Don’t forget about green energy options

With wildfires raging across the western U.S. and hurricanes flooding the south, it’s clear that climate change is upon us. This means that green energy is more important than ever. Thankfully, Texas is a renewable energy leader and providers offer plenty of opportunities to take advantage of wind and solar power.

On each energy plan’s EFL, there’s a section labeled “Renewable Content” that will tell you how much of the electricity comes from renewable sources. Some companies, such as Gexa Energy and Iberdrola, offer only 100 percent renewable plans. Others offer green energy add-ons to all or some of their plans. Either way, there’s a green option that will work for your needs.

5. Don’t get stressed out

The final tip to having a positive energy shopping experience is a simple one: keep your cool. With a marketplace like SaveOnEnergy, there’s no reason energy shopping has to be painful and we’ll do our best to make sure it’s not.

We work with top providers across the state to make sure you have a wide range of options, so there’s sure to be an electricity plan that works for you. See our resources to get informed before you shop and give us a call at any point if you have questions or want some guidance. We’re here to help at every step of the way. Enter your ZIP code above to get started.

 

Jenna Careri 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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