The price difference may be a few cents, but another Texas electricity company might offer better rewards, have better customer service, or may offer other plans you may be interested in the future. Some plans may draw you in with a low promotional rate, but once that promotional period is up you may be faced with a high rate. Be sure to read all the fine print when it comes to your electricity plan selection.
Prepaid electricity allows you to buy your electricity before consuming it. This is similar to a pre-paid cell phone in that you’ll pay the Retail Electric Provider (REP) upfront. You can then manage how much electricity you use throughout the month. These prepaid energy plans are best for people who can pay their bills on time and can receive notices via text or email. They’re also a good option for anyone who doesn’t have money for a large deposit, people with bad credit, anyone who wants to cut down on their electric use, or who need to split the electric bill with their roommates.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household in Texas uses about 15,000 kWh of electricity per year — 26 percent more than the national average, “but similar to the amount used in neighboring states.” That said, the only way to know your personal average energy consumption is by looking at your electricity bills over the course of a year (you want to accommodate all weather conditions) and understanding both your overall usage, as well as if you use more or less during certain months.
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.
For example, if you use a small amount of energy each month, you expect to be rewarded — right? Unfortunately, nearly all electricity plans from Texas REPs are advertised as costing more per kWh the less electricity you use. It’s a little like buying in bulk: Providers often discount your bill when you cross certain kWh thresholds. For instance, one 12-month plan from StarTex Power quotes 8.1 cents per kWh for 1,000 kWh a month and 8.8 cents for 2,000 kWh per month, but 12.1 cents for 500 kWh per month. Why the difference? Customers get $35 back each month if they pass 1,000 kWh of use, and another $15 back per month if they cross 2,000 kWh. In this case, using half as much electricity as your neighbor on the same plan wouldn’t get you half the bill.
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