Questions to ask before signing up for Electricity Service

Power-to-choose

 

 

 

You have the power to choose your electricity company in Texas, and with great power comes great responsibility. That responsibility is to yourself to make sure you know what questions to ask yourself or your energy provider regarding your electricity service. Knowledge is power, and questions are the key to gaining knowledge.

 

 

 

  • What does it mean to be crammed or slammed?
    • Cramming is when your retail energy provider (REP) is adding charges to your bill that you did not authorize.
    • Slamming is switching your electricity service from one provider to another without your permission. There is an exception to this, which is if your REP closes down, you are switched to a Provider of Last Resort (POLR) automatically if you do not choose a new provider.
  • If I am switched without authorization, what can I do?
    • The first step is to contact the REP you were switched to and ask them why you were switched. Ask them for a copy of the authorization given for the switch. If they cannot provide one, contact the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) toll free at 1-888-PUC-TIPS or www.puc.texas.gov/consumer.
  • What happens when my contract is near expiration?
    • You must be notified of expiration at least 30 days before the contract is up for renewal.
    • You may switch your provider or plan without penalty within 14 days of the expiration date.
    • If you do nothing when up for renewal, your current REP will continue service with a monthly plan.
  • Can I be back-billed or re-billed?
    • If there is an error on behalf of the REP or you did not receive a bill, the REP can re-bill you within 180 days of the original bill date.
    • If a correction of charges is greater than $50, you can request a deffered payment plan.
    • If your electricity meter was tampered with, the REP can re-bill you even after 180 days.
  • Is it possible my bill has been estimated?
    • If your REP does not receive a meter reading from your utility, they may estimate the amount of energy used based on your usage history. As soon as the meter is read again, your next bill will be adjusted to account for the estimate versus the actual usage.
    • Generally, you cannot receive an estimated bill more than three billing cycles in a row.
  • A deposit has been charged to my bank! What can I do?
    • Your REP may require a good credit history to provide service. In this case, a deposit of no more than 1/5th the estimated annual billing or the sum of estimated billings for the next two months.
  • What is the AMS meter charge?
    • If your home has a smart meter, utilities can assess this surcharge to recover the cost of the meter.
  • What are the causes of service disconnection?
    • If a bill, payment plan, or deposit is not paid, service may be disconnected after proper notice. The service cannot be disconnected on or before the disconnection date listed in the notice.
  • What can I do if I have trouble paying my bill?
    • If you are having trouble paying your bill, contact your REP to set up a payment plan before your service is disconnected. You will be eligible for a deferred payment plan if you have not received more than two termination notices in the past year. If you are unable to keep up with the payment plan, however, your service could be disconnected.
    • If you have a medical condition that requires electricity use, you can have your physician that ordered the electric device contact your REP by phone and send a written statement. You will then be able to enter a deferred payment plan for the balance due.
  • I want to choose a better date to pay my bill by, can I do that?
    • Most REPs allow you to set your own due date, but if they do not, it will be due 16 days after the date the bill was issued.
  • If I cancel my service before my contract ends, will I face a penalty?
    • Your REP will list any early termination fees in the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) in your plan’s documentation. However, you can change your plan or provider within 14 days of the contract end date and not face a penalty.
  • Can I prepay for service?
    • If your REP offers prepaid billing, you can pay for the estimated usage before the billing cycle, and your REP will account for under and overpayments periodically.
  • Who can see the information I provide to my REP?
    • Your REP will share your information (including name, address, and billing information) with your utility and potentially a billing company, if the REP does not do their own billing. Any company this information is shared with must sign a nondisclosure agreement to prevent leaked information.
    • Your information could also be shared with PUCT regarding oversight of your REP, a consumer reporting agency, an energy assistance agency, or local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
    • Your REP may share information regarding name and address for the purposes of marketing other products and services to you. The REP must provide an opportunity for you to opt out of this type of information sharing.
    • Some REPs may require you to release information for the purposes of marketing before providing electricity service, but you always retain the power to choose a REP that does not require this.

Energy Efficient Grocery Store by Recycling food

cheap-electricity

Have you ever gone through the produce section and wondered to yourself “What do they do with the produce that doesn’t get sold or goes bad?” Probably more often than not, it is simply thrown out. While it does seem like a waste of food, at least it’s all biodegradable, right? Fortunately, most supermarkets reduce food waste as much as possible with “Sell By,” “Best By,” and “Expiration” dates.

Food that doesn’t get sold before the “Sell By” date may get sent to another department in the store where it can be turned into part of a ready made meal, as long as it is before the “Best By” date. If food begins to rot, it’s reached “Expiration” and is tossed. One Sainsbury’s supermarket in the United Kingdom took things one step further when it comes to expired food. The store has partnered with Biffa, a waste management company to turn food waste into power. Sainsbury’s takes its food waste from all of their stores in the UK and brings them to Biffa in Staffordshire to be converted into biogas, which is burned to power the Sainsbury’s store in Cannock.

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability explained that “Sainsbury’s sends absolutely no waste to landfill . . . ,” and the company is really committed to living up to that in every way. Because of this partnership with Biffa, the Cannock store can fully disconnect from the national electricity grid and power itself fully on the chain’s waste. To take it another step further still, because of their commitment not to send waste to landfills, food that is unsold but still suitable for consumption is donated to charitable organizations. If it’s unsuitable for human consumption, some foods are turned into animal feed for safari parks. Anything beyond that, like rotted food, is sent to Biffa to be processed into biogas through anaerobic digestion.

Anaerobic digestion is a process by which bacteria consume organic matter in a tank devoid of oxygen. The bacteria expels the biogas, primarily methane, which is a greenhouse gas worse than carbon dioxide. However, when methane is burned, the carbon dioxide released is carbon neutral because it is part of the natural carbon cycle. The natural carbon cycle consists of leaves converting CO2 to oxygen, which is inhaled by humans and animals, and exhaled as CO2, or when any living thing dies, plant and animal alike, it decays as carbon emissions to be recycled into oxygen by plants. Thus, Sainsbury’s store is able to provide itself with cheap electricity while not only eliminating waste products, but waste emissions as well.

Solar Energy Facts

Cheap-ElectricitySolar energy is actually the most abundant form of energy on our planet. Not only can we get energy from absorbing sunlight, but we can also get energy from harnessing the wind, which is powered by the sun. If we could harness all of the solar energy hitting our planet, we would have 10,000 times the amount of energy we would need to supply all of the Earth’s power needs. That’s equal to 173,000 terawatts (that’s 173 BILLION megawatts) hitting the planet every minute.

We as a species have been harnessing solar power indirectly for centuries using windmills. But it wasn’t until 1954 that we were able to directly harness the sun’s rays and use them to generate electricity. Bell Laboratories constructed the first silicon solar cell in 1954 and the New York Times heralded it as “the beginning of a new era . . . the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” In the 1960s, as the space age was dawning, the space industry began integrating solar technology into its designs seeing that it would be the most effective way to generate electricity while out in space. In fact, the Vanguard 1 is the first and oldest man-made, solar powered satellite still in orbit of Earth.

The United States is on track to become the fourth largest solar market in the world. In the first quarter of 2012, solar energy development increased by 85% over the previous year, and continued developments are likely to put the nation well ahead in the solar energy game. Part of the reason for the increase is the continually falling prices for solar energy. Beyond local grid energy production, solar energy has become more affordable for homes and businesses as well. Unfortunately, in addition to the cost of solarizing a home, there are costs for permits to construct the panels and integrate them with systems. However, the Department of Energy uses the SunShot Initiative to lower these extra costs in an attempt to make solar power more attractive.

California is currently constructing what will become the world’s largest solar energy project. Using thermal energy technology, the massive array of 350,000 mirrors will concentrate the sun’s light on to a boiler at the top of a tower in the center of the array. In this boiler, water will quickly turn to steam and that steam will spin turbines,providing 140,000 homes with cheap electricity. The best part about this project is that the energy will be clean and renewable. After the steam has completed its task of spinning the turbine, it will condense back into water and repeat the process.

Wind Energy Benefits and Disadvantages

Cheap-ElectricityOne of the fastest growing sectors of renewable energy is wind power. Wind energy has been harnessed for many centuries. It has been used to mash grain to make flour, pump water, and more recently, generate electricity. When wind spins the blades of a wind turbine, a large magnet inside the top part of the tower spins inside of a cylinder of copper coils. The magnet passing by these coils generates an electric charge which is transmitted over power lines to the local energy grid. The primary benefit of wind energy is low cost renewable energy, but there is a little more to it than just that.

Wind energy is a true green energy source. Wind is powered by the sun, and generating electricity from wind emits no harmful pollutants into the environment. There is no consumable fuel source like coal or gas to use up, making wind power a renewable source of energy. Renewable energy means that the electricity generation can be sustained for very long period of time. While current estimates say that our oil and gas reserves will last about a hundred years or so, wind energy will be around long after that. Generating electricity from wind is really quite cheap, about four to six cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). They are primarily built in remote areas where winds tend to me the most consistent. You can see wind farms lining ridgelines, dotting the landscapes of plains or farms, or in some other countries, offshore.

That said, planning where to place wind turbines can be a challenge sometimes. Since most wind farm sites are in remote areas, extra infrastructure needs to be added to get the generated electricity to the grid that needs it. This means running long power transmission lines. Sites also need to be fairly consistent with the available wind. An area that gets very little wind will not be cost effective. Similarly, if winds are often too strong, the site will not be viable due to the risk of damaging the machinery. If a potential site for wind turbines has potential for other uses, the landowners will be taking other bids into consideration, thus determining what actual gets implemented.

While wind electricity generation emits no pollutants, it can still have an effect on the environment. There have been reports of increased bird deaths in locations where wind farms exist. However, the number of bird deaths per year is almost inconsequential compared to the number killed from catastrophic pollution disasters, such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Noise pollution could be considered a problem for wind sites close to residential areas. The rotation of the rotor blades causes a constant whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound that some residents may find bothersome. Others may not care for the sight of wind farms, claiming it taints their view.

All in all, wind energy has major benefits when it comes to generating cheap electricity, bolstering the economy, and cleaning up the environment. The challenges facing developers are reduced as technology improves. Newer turbines are quieter, for example. The Department of Energy wants to have 20% of the country’s energy produced by wind by the year 2030. This will expand manufacturing jobs, generate local revenue, conserve water, and even lower natural gas prices. If you want to be part of the wind movement, contact Shop Dallas Electricity today and find a Dallas energy provider that offers renewable energy you have the power to choose your own provider and energy plan, so you can seek out the cheapest electricity rates with the best benefits.

Energy Efficiency on a Bike

New York City has taken energy efficiency to the streets to encourage more people to leave their car at home for the day. Cities in general have high pollution levels due to their high traffic content and tall buildings consuming vast amounts of energy. To help curb the traffic related pollution, Citi Bike was created to allow people to bike to work, the gym, the park, or dinner while eliminating a vehicle from the road. With all the traffic in New York City, carbon emissions pour into the atmosphere at staggering rates, especially when much of that traffic gets stuck in long lines at lights downtown. Citi Bike recently celebrated its first anniversary and hosts over 100,000 members.

The first bike share program, called Bycyklen, started in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1995. The bike share program worked similar to some grocery store carriage returns. You place a coin into the lock, use your bike until you are finished with it, and when you return the bike and lock it, you get your coin back. The bikes were uncomfortable to ride and primarily became a tourist attraction. Bike share programs have been picking up around the United States recently, however. Seattle, WA is the most recent US city to announce a bike share program, and it will begin in September of 2014. The program will begin with 50 bike docks and 500 bikes.

More than 30 US cities have a bike share program, and Portland, OR, Tampa, FL, and a San Diego, CA will be adding to that list in the coming years. Despite the initial stigma surrounding the first bike share program in Denmark, the current generation programs are really picking up all over the world. Perhaps it’s because more people are concerned with the state of the environment and don’t see these bikes as gimmicks anymore. Regardless of the reason for their increasing popularity, they will provide benefits such as reducing the amount of vehicles on the roads and improving public health.

When it comes to tackling the office buildings in these big cities, one of the best ways to reduce to pollution caused by their constant use of electricity is to enroll in renewable energy plans. Many Dallas electricity companies offer cheap electricity for businesses that feature green plans. If you are a business owner in Dallas, you have the power to choose what kind of electricity you want for your business, and Shop Dallas Electricity can help you find the energy provider that will work best for you.

Advantages of Texas Electric Deregulation

The energy market was deregulated in Texas as of 2002. This means that Dallas now has the power to choose your own energy provider. By choosing your own provider, you can be certain to get cheap electricity, since the utility company is no longer able to set the price to whatever they want. The market is open for competitors to vie for your customer ship. Having a deregulated energy market also benefits you in a few other ways.

 

Switching to a new Retail Energy Provider (REP) can get you in on some extra benefits or advantages. The biggest advantage is getting cheap electricity. When REPs compete for your business, the average rates for electricity drop. Some REPs may also offer introductory offers that will get you an even lower rate to start out. All REPs offer different plans with varying contract lengths, rates, and options. Renewable energy is one of these possible options, and you can look for plans that feature partial or full renewable energy to power your home. You may also find a REP that offers loyalty programs. These programs offer extra incentives to you depending on how long you are a customer. You may receive gift cards to local restaurants, discounts on your energy bill, or even chances to get a dream vacation. In an unregulated market, there is no reason for a provider to offer these kinds of deals because you would have nowhere else to go.

 

Even if a sole provider did offer a rewards program, if their customer service was nothing remarkable, you may not even care what the rewards are. In this deregulated market, if you don’t like your energy provider, you can switch to a new one. This is another point where the power to choose your provider really stands out. Sometimes, an extraordinary customer service will outweigh a slightly higher rate for electricity, but you could still conceivably find low Dallas electricity rates and great service. The key to it all is shopping around.

 

Shop Dallas Electricity helps you through the selection process by narrowing down your choices based on your search criteria. Whether you’re looking for a low rate, renewable energy, or a fixed or variable rate plan, we can help you get the best plan for you. When you choose a new provider or plan, you don’t have to worry about losing service while the transition is made. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) ensures that once you select a switch date, your service will continue uninterrupted as you switch from one provider to another.

Electricity Tips Simplified

There are a large number of ways you can cut your home energy usage. Cutting back on energy usage saves you money and is good for the environment. Many of the tips we’ll share with you today don’t even require you to spend any additional money to upgrade your home. Something as simple as moving a piece of furniture can actually yield energy saving benefits!

 

  • Consolidating your entertainment center into a single outlet with a power strip will allow you to shut all of the electronics in it off at the same time. Electronics drain electricity even when they are off, but by switching the power strip off, you will stop the flow of electricity to these devices.
  • Switching to more energy efficient lighting like CFL or LED bulbs will save 80-90% of the energy used in lighting.
  • When looking to replace electronics or appliances, look for Energy Star certified products. Energy Star products are 20-30% more efficient than other products of the same type.
  • If you print a lot, consider getting refillable cartridges. They will save on waste and refilling the ink yourself is much cheaper than buying new cartridges.
  • Only run full loads of clothes and dish washers. They use about the same amount of energy for small loads as they do for large ones.
  • Find and seal any leaks in pipes or air ducts. These leaks can have a major impact on your energy use, regardless of how small they may be.
  • If you have a small yard with grass that’s not very thick, consider using an electric mower. You’ll save on gas purchases and eliminate a good portion of carbon emissions.
  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator. Clean coils allow the compressor to work more efficiently.
  • Clean or replace the air vents on your air conditioning and heating systems every 1-3 months. Clogged vents reduce airflow and make the system work harder.
  • Ensure furniture is not blocking any air vents in your home. Blocked vents make it take longer for your air conditioning and heat to make your home comfortable.
  • Close off vents and shut doors to unused rooms that you don’t want climate controlled.
  • If you have children, consider installing occupancy sensors in their bedrooms and playrooms. Children may not always shut the lights off when they leave a room, but an occupancy sensor will do it for them after they leave the room for a time.
  • Use reusable containers to carry food or drinks with you to work to help cut back on waste.
  • Whenever possible, use electronic bill paying methods. Some Dallas electricity providers offer cheap rates on plans with electronic payment.
  • Lower your water heater from the factory default of 140°F to 120°F to save a good deal of electricity.
  • Take care of chores like clothes and dish washing, vacuuming, and meal prep early in the morning. These chores can add to the heat in your home, which will make it more uncomfortable if done at night in the summer.
  • Use the smallest appliance necessary to cook food. Ovens use significantly more electricity than microwaves, toasters, or slow cookers.
  • When cooking on the stovetop, make sure to use a pot or pan that completely covers the heating element. Not only is this more efficient, but it can prevent ceramic element covers from breaking.
  • On particularly warm days, consider grilling outside to keep from overheating your home.
  • Use a bucket or trash container to collect rainwater for use in gardening or cleaning.

 

There are still a myriad of other ways to reduce your energy usage. While saving energy can save you money, so too can switching your energy provider.Shop Dallas Electricity will help you compare several energy companies at once, so you get the best deal on electricity. You have the power to choose an energy plan that fits your needs, including plans with e-billing discounts or renewable energy.

Energy Saving Lutron Sensor

Saving energy is a primary concern for a lot of people these days. Cutting back on energy use will help us globally, environmentally, and economically. A sustainable living will prolong the life of the environment. We implement several methods to conserve energy, like cutting back on air conditioner use, weather stripping our homes, and shutting off lights when we leave a room. Fortunately, with the advancements in technology, the last option can be automatic. Motions detecting light switches have been around for a long time, but they have only recently been used in common indoor applications.

Today, you can find motion light switches in public restrooms, office rooms,  outside our homes (security lights), and frozen food sections of markets. These switches turn the lights on as soon as a person enters the room and shuts them off after a period of inactivity, usually a couple minutes. Sometimes, this can lead to being left in the dark if you don’t move enough while in the room. Fortunately, there is a solution to the premature darkening and the wasted minutes of energy after leaving.

Lutron created the Maestro occupancy sensor switch based on this motion sensing technology, but with some improvements. The switch’s basic functions are still to turn on when you enter and turn off when you leave. However, this switch is configurable for several different situations. The switch can be set to detect high levels of motion, such as walking, or low levels of motion, such as typing on a keyboard. This means that even though you may not be moving much, the lights won’t go out on you. What’s more is the switch will automatically turn the lights off as soon as you leave? The Maestro sensor can also be set with a dimmer and a vacancy mode. The vacancy mode means you need  to press the switch to turn the lights off, but they will turn themselves off when you leave. This is good for families with pets.

These occupancy sensors are a great way to save on electricity, especially in homes where lights get left on frequently. Installing one of these light switches takes about 15 minutes and can save up to 50% on your lighting energy usage. They also monitor the ambient light level in your home, so they don’t turn on when there is plenty of ambient light, but it will learn to automatically turn on at certain light levels if you tend to turn the lights on when there is still some ambient light.

In addition to changing the light switches, changing your lights will save you money as well. Upgrading from old incandescent light bulbs to more efficient LEDs will save 80-90% on your lighting electricity usage. And signing up with a Dallas electricity provider that offers cheap electricity rates will also get you a huge savings. Shop Dallas Electricity will give you the power to choose your electricity provider and the energy plan you want for your home or office.

Energy Saving Tips to Cool your Home

Summer is coming up soon, and with it, high temperatures and high Dallas electricity rates. There are several ways you can keep your summer energy costs down through regular maintenance and installing energy efficient devices. In addition to getting cheap electricity rates in Dallas, keeping up with your home’s efficiency, you can potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars each year on your energy costs. For starters, change or clean your air filter every one to three months. This is particularly important during the months of heavy use. A dirty air filter reduces the airflow of your air conditioner, thus reducing its efficiency. The AC needs to work harder to pump out cool air with a clogged air filter. Not to mention, a dirty air filter can lead to expensive maintenance if left unchecked. It’s also important to have a professional tune up your heating and air conditioning system each year in either the spring or fall. Tuning up the system will keep it running like new. Seal up gaps in your door frames, window frames, and air ducts. These gaps are responsible for letting much of your climate controlled air escape, wasting energy. Weather-stripping your doors and windows will seal the gaps between the doors or window and its frame, keeping the climate controlled air inside your home. Sealing gaps in duct sections will ensure the air gets to where it is supposed to go, instead of leaking out along the way, heating or cooling rooms and spaces that don’t need it. Installing a programmable thermostat can help manage energy usage. Programmable thermostats let you set the temperature for different parts the day, which can save you about $180 each year. You can set your ideal at home temperature for the morning and evening, while during work and overnight hours, set the thermostat to shut off your heat or AC, thus saving energy. Installing Energy Star certified equipment will also cut down on your energy usage, as they are 20-30% more efficient than their uncertified counterparts. All in all, you have the power to choose what Dallas electricity provider you want, choosing a plan that best suits your needs. Whether it’s for the cheapest electricity or all green electricity, Shop Dallas Electricity will help you find the right plan for the right price. You are also given many choices regarding how you use your electricity, and responsible use will lead to rewards in the form of lower energy costs.

Why LED Lights are Fantastic ?

LED lights are becoming increasingly popular. They are incredibly versatile, last 50-100 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, use 80-90% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and of course, beautifully light your home or office. Over the years, their use has become much more widespread and their cost has continually dropped. You can find them in refrigerated sections of major box stores, turning on as you start walking down the aisle, they line display cases in jewelry stores, and many homeowners are finding them to be excellent alternatives to incandescent and CFL lighting.

Using LED bulbs in recessed lighting fixtures or hard to access locations is much less of a hassle than using incandescent lights, especially. With bulbs that last anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 hours (as opposed to a mere 1200 hours), you almost never have to replace these bulbs. Typically, as LEDs reach the end of their life, instead of just going out with a pop, their light dims to about 80% of its usual brightness and continues down from there. This means that even when they’re almost dead, you won’t suddenly lose all of the light from them. LEDs also save a lot of energy over the older bulbs. A 60 watt equivalent bulb uses about 11-12 watts, and they are typically even brighter than their equivalent bulb. And, unlike CFLs, LED bulbs do not contain mercury. CFLs disposed of in the trash that end up at a landfill could shatter, leaking the mercury into the soil.

LEDs are very durable. They easily stand cold and hot climates without losing much of their edge. CFLs can sometimes take a while to “warm up” and reach their maximum glow; LEDs are at full brightness as soon as you flip the switch. Even if dropped, so long as the dome doesn’t shatter, LED bulbs will continue to function, as they have no fragile filaments. Their life is also not shortened by constant turning on and turning off of the light.

Because of the versatility of LEDs, they can be used for a wide range of lighting applications. They are available in several different color temperatures, providing a soft, warm light for living rooms, and intense white lights for kitchens or outdoor applications. They can also be purchased in strips or bulbs with different color options, to help set a particular mood. All of these features give you the power to choose the right lighting for your home. Combined with cheap electricity rates in Dallas, LED bulbs can help brighten your home while lowering your energy costs.