Free electricity is a phrase you’ll hear a lot about when you’re shopping for a new energy plan. Unfortunately, these plans only offer free electricity on weekends or at night, depending on what energy companies are advertising. This is because there really is no such thing as completely free electricity. In fact, you’ll pay more for your electricity during those hours that aren’t free. For this reason, these plans are best for families who aren’t home during the day and people who work traditional, 9 – 5 jobs.
There are two main types of pricing in contracts: fixed and variable. With a fixed contract, the electric rate price you sign up for cannot change for the duration of your contract. With a variable contract, the rate price is subject to increase or decrease each day or month, based on the time of year and price of electricity for the provider at that moment. Variable pricing is often higher, but may be a good choice for those that don’t want to be locked into a contract.
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Before you switch providers, you’ll need to determine whether you’re under a contract with your current provider, and if so, how long you have left on your contract. You can usually find this information by looking at your electricity bill or by calling your energy provider. If you choose to switch before your contract is up, your current contract may outline an early termination fee. However, according to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, customers can switch providers without paying an early termination fee if they schedule the switch no earlier than 14 days before their current plan expires. When you change providers, you’ll be able to indicate the date you want the switch to occur.
The ability to make an electric power switch gives Texas energy consumers the freedom to shop and search for a new rate. Texans switch power providers for a number of reasons. You may choose to switch power supply providers because you move to a new utility area that your current retail provider doesn't service. Maybe you switch power providers because you're unhappy with your current provider's level of customer service. Maybe your reason for switching is simply to find a better rate than what you have now. Whatever your reason may be, you have the power to switch electricity providers.
One of the benchmarks of a successful free market is the range of choice provided to customers. Choice can be viewed both in terms of the number of firms active in the market as well as the variety of products those firms offer to consumers. In the first decade of retail electric deregulation in Texas, the market experienced dramatic changes in both metrics. In 2002, residential customers in the Dallas-Fort area could choose between 10 retail electric providers offers a total of 11 price plans. By the end of 2012, there were 45 retail electric providers offering 258 different price plans to residential customers in that market. Similar increases in the number of retail electric providers and available plans have been realized in other deregulated electricity market areas with the state.
Another positive environmental impact is the effect of higher energy prices on consumer choices, similar to the US market trend toward more fuel-efficient cars. As electric bills have risen, residents are reducing their electrical usage by using more moderate thermostat settings, installing insulation, installing solar screens, and other such activities. Texas utilities (such as Austin Energy) are also installing advanced electricity meters that may one day enable variable pricing based on the time of day. This would permit energy customers to save money by further tailoring their consumption based on whether it occurred during the peak demand period (high cost/high pollution) or the off-peak (night time).
The Public Utility Commission (PUC) has a website to help you find and compare all the electricity plans and providers in your area. Visit www.powertochoose.org or call 866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839). You can filter your options based on your usage, your preferred plan type, and several other factors. Once you’ve chosen the retail electricity provider that best suits your needs, you can sign up directly from their website.
Despite the fact that Texas sees much higher temperatures year round, most households contain and use heating units. These units generate heat in one of four ways: other, propane, electricity and natural gas. Just over half of households in Texas use electricity to run their heating units. This is a much greater average than the overall average for the nation.
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Texas electricity rates are on their way down again. After a summer spike, electricity rates across Texas have fallen. Utility officials were concerned about having enough electricity to meet peak summer demand. This resulted in electricity providers increasing the rates on their fixed rate plans in anticipation of higher wholesale electricity prices.
Fixed-rate plans: Fixed-rate plans give customers more stability for their monthly energy bills because the rate a customer signs up with is the rate he or she pays for the length of the plan’s contract. Most fluctuation comes with usage, though transmission and delivery charges and local fees also can change.. Because a fixed-rate plan sometimes spans two-three years, these plans often require a customer credit check and can include early cancellation fees. Fixed-rate plans, because of the continuing market volatility, probably are the best choice for many consumers.