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Up to now, I’ve only ever rented an apartment so paying utilities has never been something I’ve ever needed to do. I remember when I lived with my parents: Dad would get the electric bill and then be in a bad mood and making sharp comments about lights left on and my stereo being too loud but that was about it for that. Now, however, after years of scrimping and saving, I’m moving into my very own condo! [and the crowd roars!!!!]

I figured if I blogged about my experience getting set up with electricity, it might be useful to someone else who’s reached the life milestone of first time home ownership. So I sat down and powered up my laptop and pulled up my browser. I figured I might as well start with what I know, so I plugged in “TXU Energy plans” and was taken to a page promoting “New Zealand’s Number 1* selling working dog biscuit”. Double-checked and yeah, my bad: I’d typed “TUX Energy plans”. Not a great start, y’know?

My first impression of the TXU Energy front page is “Wow! Busy, much?”. There’s an awful lot of stuff going on here. I get that there’s a lot to know about electricity, energy plans, options, ways to save money and so on, but they’ve got both business and home options and having it all thrown into my face at once like this, well – it’s a little overwhelming.  Probably those with more experience will be better able to handle the page because they already know what’s relevant and what isn’t, but right now, that’s not me.

Plunging into TXU Energy plans

Okay, so I just finished looking around the front page, which took a few minutes. While there is a prominent section titled “View Plans and Rates”, everything else is highlighted, bordered, or moving or whatever, which makes me feel that maybe it’s important stuff I should go over first. It’s got me feeling a bit irritated because I don’t want all this information, I just need to know how what my rate options are.  I can look up all the rest of the stuff later. Fine – I click the “For Home” button to view all the TXU Energy plans for a home owner.

The next page says I have to answer a “few quick questions” before I can get any information. Instead of having all the questions on one page, there’s just one question, which is mandatory: “Are you already a TXU Energy customer?”. Well, no, I’m not. That’s why I clicked to view TXU Energy plans – wouldn’t an existing customer have all this information already?

I click “No”, and more questions appear, which is actually kind of cool – I was expecting the whole page to reload.

“How can we help you?” I answer: “I’m moving to a new home” but now it wants my address. My immediate thought is “Am I signing up?”  The page says it needs this information in order to determine which TXU Energy plans to present so, after thinking it over, I plug in my zip code only.

The next question I answer “No, it’s not an apartment” – [I’m feeling uncomfortable – why isn’t there just a rate sheet or something I can look at?] and I click “Continue”.

The envelope, please.

After a protracted wait while I watch the “Loading” spinner do its thing, a chart appeared. I was glad to see I could sort by rate from lowest to highest. The first rate promoted was 11.7 cents per kilowatt hour with a 14-month contract and a big “Sign Up” button. Reading the details, however, this rate (and another similar one of 11.3) are only available if I sign up for AutoPay. I don’t like that – I’ve never seen a power bill so I don’t know how much I use in a month. It’d be embarrassing to have a utility payment bounce! Also, I work on base pay plus commission so I never really know what my finances are going to be from month to month. I would prefer to pay when I have cash in hand but I feel like I’m being penalized for that.

The next rate up is 12.3 cents per kilowatt hour. The blurb says it’s 100% from renewable resources – I like that. It’s a 12-month contract which I guess is okay – if I’m owning the place, I’m not likely to get bored in six months, right? Just in case, I click to “Expand Plan Details and Pricing” and holy yikes! Turns out 12.3 cents is only if I use over 2000 kWh a month! I’m a single person in a two-bedroom townhouse condo – if I start burning through energy at that rate, DEA will be kicking in my door in a week! The lowest usage rate is 500 kWh, in which case the rate goes up to a whopping 18.1. Wow. So, if I conserve energy, I pay more for it. That’s nice.

Based on my experience here, I’m thinking TXU Energy plans are maybe not meant for a small person in a small home – but the thought of going through all that again one website after another, leaving my personal information everywhere, is, frankly, exhausting. I wonder how many people are in plans and contracts only because they just got so fed up with searching? It shouldn’t be this difficult!

30 Minutes Later…

It’s been about a half an hour since I finished off that last paragraph. I was getting so stressed out that I decided to call my dad and ask him how he did it – he hands off one electricity company to the next like Tarzan swinging through the jungle and the lights never flicker even once. He told me the secret and now I’m in a much better position to make an informed, educated choice!  He told me to go to ComparePower and he was right – it was way less hassle!  They present all the plans from companies who have a good track record, not just any old REP out there.  It’s all laid out for easy like-to-like comparison. It still took a bit of time – I learned my lesson and I read everything I could find before I took the plunge – but I didn’t feel like I was being cattle-chuted into a decision that was better for the company than it was for me.

If you’re in the position of setting up your very first electricity account, avoid the stress and do it right: visit ComparePower and exercise your power to choose!

There was a time when electricity was electricity.  Like so many other places around America, in Houston, electricity didn’t mean “cheap electricity”.  But you moved into your home and you called the utility and they turned on the power and the bill came in and you paid it every month.  Oh, sure, you might grumble at the amount but then you’d go around and yell at the kids for leaving the lights on and the TV blaring with nobody in the room or maybe you’d look into buying more energy-efficient appliances.  When it came down to it, the Bill was the Bill.  Either you paid the bill or you ate dry packet meals, had cold showers, and watched TV by peering through the neighbor’s window after dark (preferably once they’d turned the TV on).  What’s that?  You want cheap electricity?  Sure thing:  call 1-800-WHO-CARES any time during regular business hours of 2:17am to 3:04am Sundays only.

Then, in 2002, Texas deregulated the electricity market and everybody cheered!  Except that, sure, deregulation opened up the market to competition that may (or may not) have resulted in lower rates, but it introduced a whole host of other issues.  These issues may not have been factors before but now they’re critical when you’re on the look-out for cheap Houston electricity providers.

 1.     Contracts:  Before, there were no contracts.  You signed up or you didn’t.  When it’s the only game in town, you have to play by their rules.  Nowadays, you’ll see these ultra-fabulous rates bandied about but it’s only by carefully scrutinizing the fine print that you’ll discover those wonderful rates come with a one-year lock-down or other catches.

2.     Fraud:  Too many people have been victimized by glib sales reps with promises of cheap electricity flowing in an unending stream only to discover that, as is so often true, “it ain’t necessarily so”.  They’ve been locked into unwanted term contracts or there’s a catch – some utilities will give you the great rate only if you meet a usage minimum; basically, the “rate” is, in actuality, a “bulk purchase” discounted fee – or they paid a deposit never to hear from the rep again.

3.     Customer service:  When the only utility available has lousy customer service, nobody is surprised.  They don’t even pretend to care – they know they have you over a barrel.  With all these new players in town, however, it’s a slap in the face to be treated like royalty until you’ve signed on the dotted line and now they won’t even return your calls or the person on the phone can’t string three English words together or if he does speak English, he’s brand new and panicking trying to pull up your account information.

Keeping on top:  With deregulation, a whole host of electric resellers jumped into the market because there’s a whole lot of electricity to sell:  if Texas were a country, it’d be the 11th largest electricity consumer in the world!  Just by itself, it uses as much electricity as Spain or Great Britain!  That means there’s a whole lot of information you have to find, absorb, and process to make sure you’re getting the best rate for your needs.

There are ways you can keep these factors from landing you in the soup or from remaining trapped in a situation you don’t like:

  • Vigilantly reading every term on a sheet of paper before you sign it will prevent you from falling victim to hidden fees, penalties, and usage minimums or limits.
  • Not being afraid to say “no thank you” and, again, being vigilant about entering into new agreements will protect you from most fraud.
  • Talk to your friends and relatives – find out what electricity reseller they’re using and get the 411 on the customer service and how they’re treated as a customer.

Your most effective weapon, however, is a site like ComparePower (Power to Choose) to locate and compare details from various Houston electricity resellers.  In one fell swoop, you will efficiently and quickly locate and classify cheap electricity resellers all on one page, instead of wasting your valuable time searching out available companies and visiting their websites one by one (who even does that any more?).

Switching Providers is Fast, Easy, and Painless

Many people think that switching electricity providers is more trouble than it’s worth. You may have heard horror stories in the past, rumors of endless paperwork, having to call to disconnect, expensive switching fees, and unexpected power outages. This is simply not the case.

There’s no need to settle for a bad deal. It’s easier than you may think to find the energy plan that’s right for you.

With the deregulation of the electricity market in Houston, there are a number of power companies in the greater metropolitan area competing for your business.

Still, even with all these choices available, you may find yourself stuck in a plan paying more than you care to, afraid that it may be too much of a hassle to switch to a better option.

Compare Electricity Rates in Houston and Switch Providers in Minutes.

If you’re dissatisfied with the amount you’re paying in energy costs every month, there are a few easy steps you can take to find a utility plan that best suits your home or business.

Here’s what you need to know to compare electricity rates in Houston and switch providers today

No “Break-up” Call with your Old Provider:  Your New Provider Will Handle Everything

Switching electricity providers is fast and simple, if you know what to do. The first piece of information you need to know is that your new energy supplier will take care of everything for you.

Many fear the dreaded “break-up” phone call. Who would possibly want to take the time to explain to some customer service representative why you want to move to a better plan? Thankfully, this call is not necessary.

If you wish to switch electricity providers, all you need to do is enroll with your new electric company.  Give some basic personal information, provide the home or business address the plan is for, and select your electric service start date. All you need to do after that is sit back and save.

Of course, finding the right plan in the first place can prove time-consuming. That’s why ComparePower displays all the best plans with the best rates in a standard, easy-to-use platform. You won’t have to search through countless advertisements on dozens of different sites.

ComparePower is a free, unbiased service, listing the the best deals in your area by the most respected and trusted providers. You can easily organize and shop for energy according to your individual preferences.

Your Power Won’t Go Out

There’s no risk in switching providers. If you decide to leave your current energy company to find a better deal, you don’t need to worry about your power suddenly going out.

It’s against the law in Texas for a suppler to shut off a consumer’s electricity simply because they decided to switch.

State lawmakers included this safeguard when they worked to deregulate the energy market. It’s also important to keep in mind that the utility provider you purchase your power from is typically separate from the company that handles the distribution and transmission of the energy from the grid to your home or business. The distribution and transmission utility has no stake as to which supplier you take your business to.

If you use ComparePower to find your best electricity plan, there no catch. There are no hidden fees. No bias.  ComparePower offers a free service to ensure that you’re free to shop around and compare rates with ease and peace of mind.

Your Chance to Switch Electric Companies and Save…

The average user of ComparePower saves more than 25% on electricity costs. Finding a great energy plan should be free, fast, and simple – and now it finally is. Enter your zip code above to compare electricity rates in Houston quickly and easily.

You’d be surprised by how easy it is to cut down on your electric bill.

But we’ve all been there: the sacrifices, the hassle, the endless penny-pinching. You’re always so careful about it. You turn the lights off every time you leave the room. You only ever wash full loads of laundry. Yet, still, the end of the month rolls around, and you once again find yourself emptying your pockets and pulling out your hair.

Stop singing the blues. There’s no need to pour over that electric bill again with a pencil and a calculator. You don’t need a degree in applied mathematics to cut down. Here are some easy tips you can implement today to save money on your energy costs.

1. Remember To Unplug Your Appliances

Computers, HD televisions, Xboxes, Blu-ray players, home stereos – these days the gizmos never stop piling up, and they can be a huge drain on your pocketbook.

According to the US Department of Energy, household electrical appliances account for 6% of the average home’s energy consumption, even often consuming up to several watts on standby mode. It’s not enough just to flick a switch when you leave the room. Unplugging appliances when you’re not using them can ensure that no unnecessary power is wasted.

To save time, try plugging your electrical appliances into a power strip. Then all you’ll have to do is turn off the power strip when you leave the room and enjoy the energy savings.

2. Check Your Energy Supplier

Electricity is just like anything else you spend money on. You wouldn’t buy a car without first checking out a few different models, would you? In many states, consumers are restricted to buying their energy from a single utility provider. However, there are some states in the US, such as Texas, where the energy market has been deregulated.

Be a smart consumer. Don’t get taken for a ride. If you live in an area where you have a choice of your energy supplier, then it’s important that you make sure that you’re getting the best deal available. Do your due diligence, compare rates, and count your savings.

3. Change Your Old Light Bulbs

Every two-bit blog lists it. Every local news report talks about it. We know you may be tired of hearing the same old line. Frankly, so are we. But, new energy efficient light bulbs do work.

The initial costs may appear a bit greater than those of normal incandescent bulbs, but you can save significantly more in the long-term by using halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). You won’t need a calculator to see how much you’ll be shaving off your energy costs.

4. When It Comes to Your Central Air Conditioner…

The temperature’s rising, and you’re at home baking. You’re itching to touch that thermostat down the hall, but you fear the toll it’ll take on your electric bill. Well, worry not. There is a cure for the summertime blues. You can enjoy the splendid comforts of central air without spending an arm and a leg, if you take the right steps.

First, try purchasing an energy efficient model. The price tag in the store may seem a bit higher, but new energy efficient central air conditioners can trim serious dollars and cents off your electric costs. Check the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating on advertised models to find the most efficient unit.

Second, be sure to choose an air conditioner that is the correct size for the space being cooled. An over-sized air conditioner will consume more power than is necessary. Ask a qualified heating contractor to determine the size of the equipment needed for your home or living space.

Third, move any sources of heat in your home, such as lamps and televisions, away from the thermostat. Household appliances that generate a lot of heat can cause your thermostat to read the room’s temperature as being higher than it truly is, which would in turn lead to unnecessary cooling and energy consumption. Positioning such devices away from the thermostat will help ensure an accurate temperature reading.

5. Lower The Thermostat On Your Water Heater

It may be easy to forget about, sitting all alone out there in the cold garage, but your water heater can often be a big drain on your energy bill. According to the US Department of Energy, water heating accounts for 18% of home energy consumption. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F is an easy way to cut down on your power consumption.


finding the cheapest electric rate often requires you to know your average monthly usage. By reading the fine print of your contract, and by understanding past usage from previous bills, you can find the cheapest energy rate that applies to your actual usage level. Find your true costs at ComparePower today.

Some ads are too good to be true. Utility providers often advertise rates that the average consumer won’t qualify for. Be sure to read the fine print, and make sure your power costs are those you expected.

If you don’t know your average monthly kWh usage, then you may be paying more on your electric bill than you originally thought you would when you signed up.

The average kWh usage level refers to the typical amount of energy your household consumes in a given month.  Electric providers commonly charge different monthly rates and fees related to the usage level your household falls into.  500 kWh, 1000 kWh, or 2000 kWh.

Don’t be caught off-guard. The best way to ensure you aren’t overpaying is to first start by understanding your household’s usage. Keep your power costs as low as possible by knowing this information when shopping around for your electric plan.

Why It Matters

Energy suppliers often advertise the rates associated with their highest usage level, as those tend to be the lowest prices offered. However, these companies neglect to mention that the average household rarely consumes enough power in a given month to qualify for these cheap rates, leaving you paying more.  In fact, the average household in Texas consumes between 1200-1500 kwh of electricity per month.  Some apartment dwellers, may use far less, while some larger homes may use far more. But given that the average usage is less than the rates advertised at the highest tier of 2000 kwh, many people are left with a higher bill than they anticipated.

Here is an example from a real Electricity Facts Label (EFL).  While this rate is clearly a very good deal for a household that uses 2000kwh, it is not at all appealing for those using under 800 kwh monthly (that’s the cutoff level for this particular plan’s $9.95 usage charge).  It’s a natural tendency for providers to advertise their lowest rate, so it’s important that as a consumer, you are aware of the issue at hand and are armed with the knowledge on what to look for.

This real EFL Snapshot shows why it's so vitally important you understand your usage and shop accordingly. 500kwh households will pay 11.4c, nearly 35% more than 2000kwh households, for the same plan!

This real EFL Snapshot shows why it’s so vitally important you understand your usage and shop accordingly. 500kwh households will pay 11.4 cents per kwh, nearly 35% more than 2000kwh households (8.4 cents), for the same plan!

Don’t be misled by tricky advertising. Take the time now to do your due diligence, and you will save loads more on your power costs in the future. There are even options available to consumers to make this whole process simpler. Using our electric rate comparison portal instead of shopping directly with each individual provider can make selecting an electricity plan fast and easy. ComparePower lists the average prices at 500, 1000, and 2000 kwh usage, including fees and taxes, so you can see the true rate that will appear on your bill.

Calculate Your Monthly kWh Usage

Kilowatt-hours (kWh), usage levels, low-consumption fees – all the industry jargon is enough to make you want to tear your hair out. You shouldn’t have to be an electrical engineer to know how much you are going to spend each month on power costs.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US residence in 2011 consumed 940 kWh per month.

Here are a few more statistics to help you calculate your energy consumption:

  • A 2-ton central air conditioner uses 1450 kWh/month
  • A typical water heater used by a 4-person household consumes 310 kWh/month
  • A dishwasher uses 30 kWh/month
  • An oven range uses 58 kWh/month
  • A microwave uses 16 kWh/month
  • A 17-20 cubic foot refrigerator-freezer uses 205 kWh/month
  • A washing machine uses 9 kWh/month
  • A dryer uses 75 kWh/month
  • Lighting for a 4-5 room residence uses 50 kWh/month
  • A television set uses 27 kWh/month

(The above statistics are all based on average home use)

Back to you…

If you have access to some previous bills, use that to help determine which usage level you should be shopping rates at.  It really can make a world of difference in the effective rate you end up paying for energy.  We have observed many plans advertised at very competitive 2000kwh prices end up costing more than 35% higher for users at the 500kwh usage level.  

Be smart – grab those previous electric bills, figure out your average usage, and shop at your average usage level accordingly.  This alone could save you hundred of dollars a year, and is quite possibly the most important aspect of shopping for electricity.

save money on energy and find you cheapest electric rate

Saving on energy costs is easier than cutting back in many other areas of your lifestyle. Implement these 5 best practices to start saving money for your household without having to pinch pennies.

Texas is a huge state with diverse weather conditions across its many regions. But there’s something every resident of the state deals with…

The insane heat during the summer.

Cooling your home is a huge portion of your monthly electricity bill, so here are some ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on electricity every month.

Here are 5 quick ways to quickly realizing energy cost savings:

1. Find a Cheaper Energy Provider

For those of you in deregulated energy markets, there are hundreds of options available for consumers to choose your energy provider. Depending on the plan you choose, you might be paying more than your neighbor for access to the same source of electricity.

ComparePower is the go to tool for customers to find energy plans that are the best for their situation. No gimmicks, no sales, just information.

Simple navigation makes comparing available plans for your region a breeze. With a single click, every important document – Electricity Fact Labels, Terms of Service, and Your Rights as a Customer – are all in front of you in one place.

There are countless ways to improve your energy efficiency at home, but if you want to make your electricity bill cheaper in one rapid, hard hitting move, it might be more efficient to consider switching your provider in favor of a cheaper electric plan. Find out more today at ComparePower and start saving sooner.

2. Weather Stripping

One of the best and easiest ways to keep your house cool is to prevent air from getting in or out.

Spending all that energy on air-conditioning doesn’t do much if that conditioned air leaves your house.

A common way to prevent this is by weather-stripping your windows and doors. Installing pre-weatherstripped doors and windows can have benefits beyond insulation, including water-damage prevention and keeping entry-ways cleaner.

3. Thermostat Management

Tiny variations in your thermostat can make a huge difference in the cost of your electricity bill.

On the hottest days, most people crank up the AC, which accounts for most expensive energy bills.

Though it may take some willpower, keeping the thermostat above 78 degrees will greatly reduce your energy use. For every degree of difference over 78, your AC has to use almost 5% more energy!

4. Window Treatments

In Texas, the sun can fry an egg.

Installing shades, blinds, or other types of window treatments is a great way to keep the hot sun from your cool den.

The most effective place for window treatments are on windows that face South or West, where the sun lingers the longest. Preventing the sun from getting in can be more useful than fighting its effects.

5. LED or Fluorescent Bulbs

Another great way to keep your electricity bill down is to change the type of lighting you use at home.

Low-wattage light fixtures have a two-fold benefit: they use less energy and create less heat. Fluorescent and LED  lights are designed with energy efficiency in mind, so switching the type of bulb you use at home can bring the temperature and overall electricity use down.

What do you think?

Have you personally implemented any of these “best practices” for saving on your energy consumption?  What else have you done to lower your power costs?