SUMMARY:Even if summer is your favorite time of year, you probably aren't a fan of the high electric bills that come with it. This year, you don't just have possible triple-digit heat waves to worry about. Electricity rates may also be set for a giant spike.
Why are Houston's Electric Rates Going Up?
Three Texas coal power plants shut down at the end of last year. Those power plants provided 4,000 megawatts of capacity, and other changes mean the state will lose up to 7,000 megawatts of total power-generating capacity. That's enough to power 1.4 million homes.
Energy experts say Texas previously had too much capacity, and the excess supply was keeping prices artificially low. With the decrease in supply, wholesale energy rates charged by the power plants will increase, and the electric companies are almost certain to pass those rates on to consumers.
How to Combat Rate Increases
Most people think that you can't do anything about your electric rates going up without giving up your comfort, but that couldn't be further from the truth. There are several steps you can take to take control of your energy costs.
Choose Your Power Company
All electric providers will probably increase rates but not all will do so equally. Providers may have different mixes of flat fees, tiered usage charges and off-peak discounts.
Texas law gives you the right to choose the energy company that's right for you. This may vary based on how much electricity you use, your job or school schedules and other factors. In many cases, the best company for your neighbors may be the worst company for you.
To get the best rates, you need to shop prices against your own usage patterns.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
You can cut back your air conditioning usage without cutting back your comfort. Turning your AC up by ten degrees for eight hours while you're away at work could shave ten percent of your cooling costs.
Contrary to popular myth, this does not use more energy than leaving your AC at the same temperature while you're away if your AC is properly sized for your home and in good working order. If you keep irregular hours and are worried about coming back to a hot home, look for a Wi-Fi thermostat that you can change from your smartphone before you head home.
Prepare Your Budget
If you get used to lower electric bills during mild spring weather, the first summer heat wave could bring a shock. It could also mean late fees or credit card interest if you didn't set extra money aside.
Be sure to look at your previous years' bills to see how much extra you need to budget for the summer.
We're Here to Help
We really mean it when we say we're ready to help you with all of your financial needs. One of the benefits of membership is access to the Energy Ogre program.
For just $10 a month, Energy Ogre monitors power prices and automatically switches you to the best plan for your electric usage. Learn more about how it works by watching this video.
If you use promo code TDECU when you sign up, your 13th month of Energy Ogre is free. If you have any questions or want to learn more ways you can save money, you can also contact us at any time.