Where should you shop for electricity? Houstonians have the power to choose from an overwhelming variety of energy suppliers, plans, and options. If you live in the Houston metro area and your local electric utility is CenterPoint, over 50 different retail electricity providers currently offer electricity plans in your area. Each of these electricity providers offer sites, tools, and information on how to switch plans and providers. However, their information is often filled with electricity rates that are difficult to compare because of things like introductory rates, bill credits, narrow usage levels, unexpected fees, and legalese buried in the EFLs. Fortunately, Houston homes and businesses have electricity shopping options that make the process much simpler.
Knowing how much electricity you use each month is important to finding the cheapest electricity plan. For Houstonians, usage is typically the lowest in the winter and highest in the summer. Your specific usage levels can be determined by simply looking back at previous electric bills and finding the kWh used. To avoid electric bill surprises during the peak summer months, you’ll need to accurately know your peak electricity usage which typically occurs in August.
On the one hand, long-term, fixed rate (contract) plans offer stability in pricing. If energy supply costs suddenly go up in your area, you won’t be left paying more than what you bargained for. You’ll have peace-of-mind. If you want to switch out of your contract before it ends with a lower cost plan, you’ll likely face a cancellation fee (early termination fee).
We’ve done some of the work for you. We homed in on five of the biggest electric companies in Pennsylvania: Constellation Energy, Direct Energy, FirstEnergy Solutions, Green Mountain Energy, and Just Energy. We compared their plans, rates, special offers, and philanthropies, then dug into the contract fine print to uncover sneaky fees and the truth about discounts. Because most providers offer a range of options, we also looked at the companies behind the plans — paying attention to their corporate impact, customer service reputation, and customer resources in particular.
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.
To make reducing your usage and saving money on electricity even easier, we have an advanced online account dashboard available for all our residential electricity customers. You can go there anytime to pay your bill, check your usage, change your personal information and learn more about offers we have that apply specifically to you. All customers can sign up for our Weekly Summary Email, which helps you stay on top of your usage every week. Plus, many customers are eligible to sign up for Degrees of Difference, which gives you a bill credit when you reduce your usage during designated high-demand time periods.
All of Direct Energy’s offers include either a rewards program or a charitable donation, and the benefits get bigger the more electricity you use. Paying for electricity isn’t exactly the most fun thing you could spend your money on. If you are looking for a little sugar to help the medicine go down, Direct Energy has a dessert tray of options. Fair warning: They’re not quite as sweet as they look.
1Security and Home Automation Services are offered by NRG Connected Home LLC d/b/a Reliant, TXB19469, 1201 Fannin Street, Houston Texas 77002. Electricity services are offered by Reliant Energy Retail Services, LLC d/b/a Reliant, PUCT Certificate #10007. Both are wholly owned by NRG Energy, Inc. Terms and conditions apply. For complete terms and conditions, visit reliant.com/connectterms.
On the other hand, month-to-month variable rate (no-contract) plans don’t have cancellation fees. You won’t be penalized if you find a better deal elsewhere and want to make another switch. And, you won’t be stuck paying more than you should be if the market rate for electricity trends down. But, if it goes up, you’ll be paying more than your in-contract neighbors, and you’ll likely want to shop around again for a better deal.
You can sort, filter, and shop by pricing at YOUR specific usage level, which lets you shop and compare electricity plans based on the rates you’ll actually experience on your bill, inclusive of hidden fees and taxes. This ensures you’re not misled by the cheaper rates often advertised by electric providers…those “teaser rates” associated with higher usage levels that many households never enjoy because their usage level never reaches that pricing tier.
When you’re choosing a new energy deal, think about whether to go for dual fuel (where you get both your gas and electricity from the same company) or separate tariffs (where you get gas from one company, and electricity from another). It’s worth checking both options, as the combined price of separate tariffs can sometimes be less than a dual fuel offer.
In summary, fixed-rate plans provide a level of certainty and stability in your energy charge since the price will not fluctuate over the life of your contract. If prices suddenly spike, you are protected because your rate is locked in. The flip side is that if rates drop over the life of your contract, you’ll be stuck paying the higher rate. You can incur steep cancellation fees if you change electricity plans or providers before the end of your contract term.
According to a 2016 J.D. Power national report, switching from the utility company to an REP is not as attractive as it once was. Deregulated markets aim to drive down costs and encourage innovation but has really only succeeded in the second — the price gap between utility rates and retail rates has actually been closing. But deregulation has been successful in championing green energy and improving customer service. This improvement shows up in some impressively high J.D. Power ratings.
Reliant offers a variety of electricity plans at rates that fit your needs and lifestyle. Whether you’re a sports fan or world traveler, you can get rewards and bonuses along with your electricity plan. We run special promotions throughout the year and offer plans that let you save money when you use electricity on the evenings or weekends. If you're looking for an environmentally-conscious option, check out our wind power, solar power and solar sell back plans.
Consumers in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi were promised bargains on electricity when the Texas Legislature deregulated the electricity market. But 16 years later they're still paying more for electricity than their counterparts in cities Texas lawmakers exempted from deregulation such as Austin and San Antonio, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power which analyzed federal electricity pricing data.
These materials are provided by Constellation NewEnergy, Inc., Constellation NewEnergy Gas Division, LLC, Constellation Energy Power Choice, LLC, Constellation Energy Gas Choice, LLC, or BGE Home Products & Services, LLC (d/b/a BGE Home, Constellation Electric and Constellation Home in Maryland and d/b/a Constellation Home in Pennsylvania and Texas), each a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation. Exelon Corporation also owns Atlantic City Electric (ACE), Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco energy companies. BGE Home Products & Services, LLC, is not the same company as BGE, the regulated utility. The prices of Constellation are not regulated by any state Public Utility Commission. You do not have to buy Constellation electricity, natural gas or any other products to receive the same quality regulated service from your local utility. Brand names and product names are trademarks or service marks of their respective holders. All rights reserved. Errors and omissions excepted.