Most of us have been there. You forget to pay the bill. You go on vacation. You’re running short on funds. And then that disconnection notice comes in the mail. Oh no! What now? This article will explain your rights and responsibilities for your electricity bill in Texas, and how to avoid electricity disconnection.
The thrill of getting a new apartment usually wears off as soon as the first electric bill comes. Who used all that electricity!? Don’t panic, you don’t have to live with sky-high power bills every month. Your energy habits impact your apartment electric bill. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to develop new habits and carve a chunk out of those bills. Learn about the best ways to reduce your apartment’s electric bill.
Texas electricity customers face historically high electricity prices this summer. The rising energy rates are not so much a result of the cost of natural gas, the primary commodity used to generate electricity, but are a result of increased demand and anticipated shortages in supply. What does this mean for customers on variable rate, month to month electricity plans? High, high, high electricity rates for the dog days of summer. Who is most at risk? Prepaid electricity customers and customers on holdover rates from expired electricity contracts.
Being the electricity geeks that we are, we talk way too much with our customers, friends, and family about the price they’re paying for electricity. For whatever reason, people happen to like to swap stories about their electricity provider and rate. The conversation usually starts with “Hey, guess what? I just got a <insert ridiculously low rate>,” and usually (unfortunately) ends with a gotcha and a comment about teaser rates, fine print, and usage.
The biggest piece of advice we give to electricity shoppers is to know your historical electricity usage. This is especially true in markets like Texas where the advertised price of electricity is a combination of an energy rate and a delivery rate, and the final price you pay is completely dependent on your monthly kWh usage.
If you’ve got bad credit, or if you’re just starting out in life and don’t have credit established, you’ll likely have to pay a hefty deposit with your electricity provider in order to get power to your home or apartment. Texas has another option for credit-sensitive customers – prepaid electricity plans. Prepaid electricity plans require no deposit, no credit check, and no ID, and you can get same day electricity in most cases.
Prepaid electricity plans work the same way as prepaid phone cards: you buy a certain amount of power ahead of time, and when you use it all up you buy more. Prepaid plans are not just for customers wanting to avoid a hefty deposit. Prepaid electricity plans also come with tools and alerts to help you save energy and manage the cost of electricity.
You read the electricity providers’ information and picked what you thought was the best electricity plan available in your state. You even compared electricity rates offered and chose the cheapest plan.
Now you’ve received your first electric bill, and the power costs are much higher than you expected. What’s going on? Why doesn’t the electricity rate on your bill match what you signed up for? Why is your electric bill higher than you expected?
When it comes to choosing the right electricity plan, it really does pay to spend time reading the fine print. To get an accurate apples to apples comparison, the details buried deep in each plan’s rate documents are the ones that determine how much you’ll actually pay at the end of each month.
Live in Texas? See How To Read An Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for more information.
Unfortunately, many electricity customers pay more than expected on their electric bills and don’t realize it. Let’s break down the most common reasons for unexpectedly high electric bills.
Since the Texas legislature deregulated the retail electricity industry in 2002, millions of Texans have chosen to compare electricity rates and switch electricity providers. Giving electric choice back to Texans has been extremely popular, with an estimated 92% of residents having switched their own electricity plans. The ability to switch electricity providers has resulted in significant savings for many Dallas customers.
Living in the Dallas metroplex area and being served by Oncor as your local electric utility means that you have the power to choose from among dozens of competing electricity providers. All of them offer multiple rates, contract lengths and discount offers. In addition, each provider has its own website designed to lead you through the maze of complicated offers, which are often filled with confusing EFL details, overlooked fine print, and introductory rates. As a result, many customers are still confused by legal terms and narrow usage level bill credits frequently used on electricity plans for marketing purposes. As a result, they often end up getting surprised by unexpected fees and missing out on potential savings on their electric bills.
Texas electricity deregulation has given millions of Houston residents and businesses the power to choose the cheapest electricity rate. According to ERCOT, over 92% of Texas homes and businesses who live in deregulated areas have switched electric companies since deregulation began in 2002. Even though electric choice in Texas has been hugely successful for energy savings, customers are still confused by the options, terminology, and overall process of switching electric providers.
Where should you shop for electricity? Houstonians have the power to choose from an overwhelming variety of energy suppliers, plans, and options. If you live in the Houston metro area and your local electric utility is CenterPoint, over 50 different retail electricity providers currently offer electricity plans in your area. Each of these electricity providers offer sites, tools, and information on how to switch plans and providers. However, their information is often filled with electricity rates that are difficult to compare because of things like introductory rates, bill credits, narrow usage levels, unexpected fees, and legalese buried in the EFLs. Fortunately, Houston homes and businesses have electricity shopping options that make the process much simpler.
For many people with poor credit or no credit, getting a basic need like electricity can be incredibly expensive and seemingly impossible.
Electricity providers perform credit checks for traditional postpaid electricity plans before agreeing to connect power to your home. If your credit rating is low or if you’ve just struck out on your own and don’t have credit established, your provider may require a large deposit before agreeing to do business with you.
A prepaid electricity plan with an established electricity supplier can be a tremendous help in this situation. With prepaid plans, your provider won’t perform credit checks, they don’t require a deposit, and everyone is guaranteed to be accepted. Based on the same concept as prepaid credit cards, this model is very popular where it is available.
For electricity customers living in states that have allowed electricity deregulation, shopping for an electricity plan can seem overwhelming.
After all, many states have a large number of electricity providers and each provider offers several different plans that often look very similar at first glance. If you’re not sure how to get started shopping for electricity plans, you’re not alone. This short guide will get you started.