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Insider shares strategy for lowering your electric bill

HOUSTON – If you haven’t already received your electric bill for the month of August, prepare yourself. It is typically one of the highest electric usage months of the year and a good reminder that you can lower your electric bill just by shopping for a new electric provider.

Electricity prices just dropped this week, and they will keep getting lower as we begin to cool down. Prices are always highest in the summer because electricity is in such high demand. Right now, you can find rates for just under 8 cents a kilowatt.

We turned to Chris Coulter, owner of Texas Power Agents, to explain what you should and should not do to find a new low electric plan.

“It pays a lot of money to pay attention,” said Coulter.

Do:

  • Look at your own plan and figure out what you pay now. If you are in a contract with a retail electric provider, find out when it expires.
  • Go to the state’s Power to Choose website. Type in your zip code and look for rates in your area.
  • Use the filters to weed out variable rates. They’re not your friend.
  • Do find out how many complaints each power company has right on the Power to Choose website. If, for example, you’re deciding between First Choice Power and Direct Energy, that both offer the same rates, you’d probably want to choose the company with fewer complaints and more stars.
  • Do know when you can switch. You are allowed to switch electric companies within 14 days of your contract end date, but sometimes it pays to switch even if you’re in a contract.

“We end up breaking contracts weekly because it makes sense,” said Coulter. “If you’re gonna save $1000 and it cost $150 to break a contract, let’s change this immediately.”

Don’t:

  • Don’t fall for gimmicks like free nights and weekends. You can filter those out too. Your best bet is to shape based on the rate per kilowatt. When you get free nights and weekends, the retail electric company is usually charging you a higher rate.
  • Don’t just skim the surface on what the rate means. When you see a rate you like, probably the lowest, click on the “Facts sheet” or the “Electricity Facts label.” Here you can see how the rate is broken down.

The energy charge is the competitive number, but you have to combine that with the CenterPoint Energy delivery charge. Those two numbers together make up the rate you will pay. Right now, it’s 7.4 cents if you use 2000 kilowatts a month with First Choice Energy or Direct Energy.

  • Don’t be afraid to use an electric provider you’ve never heard of before. That may be why they can offer such a low rate.

“You don’t hear of some of these guys via advertising because they blow that budget into a cheaper rate so they can get customers that way,” explained Coulter.

Still need help?

Brokers like Texas Power Agents can do all of the work for you for a fee. They charge $9 a month. You should try it yourself to start just to see what kind of deal you can get. If you feel overwhelmed, go with a broker.

If you decide to go with Texas Power Agents, use promo code “HFD” or “firefighter.” Coulter explained why using those codes will help a local family.

“Our good friend and first official customer tragically lost his wife to a brain aneurysm last year; and we would like to help raise money for their son’s education. He is a firefighter with HFD and has referred countless customers our direction to help with their electricity bills. We want to help and will pledge $25 for every new customer that signs up with us and references “HFD” or “firefighter” in the referral section to assist with education expenses for their son. Please help us provide a local hero some assistance!”