Guest post: Rebecca Bridges, ElectricityPlans.com
You’ve found the home of your dreams, made an offer and it’s been accepted.
Now comes the task of actually moving. When you are making your moving checklist, make sure it includes setting up utilities in your new home. Electricity should be at the top of that list.
Electricity shopping in Texas is different than in other areas of the country, due to deregulation. And even if you are moving from one area of Texas to another, you may want to shop your electricity contract to make sure you have the best deal. This article will help you with either.
I’m moving from out of state. What’s different about Texas?
Electricity in most of Texas, including Houston, is deregulated and has been since 2001. That means the local utility company does not sell electricity supply. The utility company will manage the poles and wires that bring electricity to your home, read and install meters, and respond in the case of an emergency.
Your electricity supply comes from the Retail Electric Provider (REP) you select. There are over 40 REPs to choose from, and 100 plans to pick from.
Regardless of what REP you select, the local utility will respond in the case of a power emergency, read your meter, and help you if the lights are out. In Houston Texas and surrounding areas, your local utility is Centerpoint Energy.
The REP you select will issue a “move-in” order to set up electricity in your new home. They will coordinate everything with the local utility company.
How do I shop for electricity at my new home?
The state-sponsored shopping site, Power to Choose, is one option for electricity shopping. However, it didn’t get the nickname “Power to Confuse” for nothing. REPs have repeatedly played games on the site, posting electricity prices that look attractive, until you read the fine print.
A shopping site like ElectricityPlans.com is your better bet. This site reviews electricity plan details and summarizes them in an easy to understand format.
What kind of electricity plan should I choose?
Most consumers in Texas prefer a fixed price plan for their electricity. A fixed price plan locks in a specific price per kilowatt hour of electricity for a given term.
Make sure to read the fine print on the electricity plans you are reviewing, to ensure you understand minimum usage fees or bill credits. Reviewing the electricity plan details can help you identify the best electricity plan for your home.
I have an electricity plan at my current house. Should I take it with me?
If you already have electricity at your Texas home, yes, you can take it with you. Contact your electricity provider and ask about a transfer of service. If you are moving within the same utility area, you can transfer your contract to your new home.
However, here’s another option — switch to a new electricity company. Moving to a new home triggers a legal “out” for your electricity contract. You can cancel your electricity contract with no penalty if you provide proof that you are moving out, usually as simple as a change of mailing address.
Which should you do, shop for a new provider or transfer your current contract?
Just look at your bill to see your current “average price per kilowatt hour.” Shop online to see the best Texas electricity rates. Then compare them to the rate you have now. If your rate is higher than current offers, switch your electricity company. And if you already have a low rate, transfer it to your new home.
How far ahead can I schedule my electricity service at my new home?
Talk to your realtor about the closing date. Coordinate with the seller to turn on the electricity in your name on the same date that they are disconnecting their electricity. That way you don’t have to worry about the air conditioning being off, which could leave a stale smell.
You can set up electricity service in your new home up to 60 days in advance of your move-in date. Or, if you forget to set up electricity ahead of time, you can get it set up the same day, if you order by 3pm weekdays.
How much does electricity cost in Texas?
The average price of electricity in Texas is 11.7 cents per kWh, according to the EIA. The Texas average electricity usage is 1100 kWh per month, for a home of around 1500 square feet. With a larger luxury home, your usage will be substantially higher.
Electricity usage in Texas is driven by Texas heat and humidity. Air conditioning typically accounts for 50% or more of your electricity bill. And during July, August and September, your electricity use can be nearly three times as high as it is during other months.
To get an idea of how much you’ll be spending on electricity, have your realtor request a 1-2 year history of electricity usage from the seller. This lets your see approximate usage my month. Just keep in mind that your electricity usage will vary from there’s depending on your thermostat set point, the number of people in the home, and other factors.
How do I keep my electricity bill low?
Keeping your electricity bill low means getting back to basics. It’s all about energy conservation.
- Install LED light bulbs, especially in main areas of the home
- Use a WIFI programmable thermostat that cools your home to the optimal temperature for your schedule
- Plant shade trees on the east side of your home
- Change your A/C filters regularly and get an A/C tune-up every spring before the cooling season.
Setting up your electricity is easy, and only takes about 10 minutes. Check that off your moving task list today and move in to a cool and comfortable home.
About the author:
Rebecca Bridges is head of marketing for ElectricityPlans.com, a web site designed to make electricity shopping easy for home and business owners. When not writing about electricity, she can be found searching Pinterest for home improvement projects.