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!