Shopping for electricity this winter? All the questions you should ask before you commit

A Christmas tree is lit up.

With a majority of Texans spending more time at home as the coronavirus pandemic continues, how much electricity we use and when, matters.

Whether you’re shopping around for electricity or actively looking to switch providers, the experts at TriEagle Energy provided three questions to ask yourself before making any decisions.

How long does a low rate last?

There are some sweet, low rates advertised out there.

But not all of them last forever.

If the advertised “low” rate is only for three months, it could end up costing you a fortune for the remainder of your contract, especially considering the amount of time we’re now spending indoors.

It also matters what time of year the rate expires.

What is your rate based on?

Many providers advertise super low rates. But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, TriEagle experts said.

Some of these rates are dependent on minimal monthly usage. If this minimum isn’t reached, the rate could double -- or worse.

Or maybe it’s a “wholesale rate.” Advertised by some companies for mere pennies, the truth is, wholesale rates can skyrocket, according to TriEagle. Last summer, they hit the maximum allowed price in Texas: $9 a kWh, or 77 times what the average Texan paid at the time, according to the Department of Energy.

What is your average monthly usage?

You might be surprised to learn it’s not as high as you might think.

Looking at your past six to 12 months of usage can be a huge help, but also keep in mind how you’re using electricity today. If your new routine includes working from home or entertaining kids inside, your usage may look different.

Are there any surprise fees or incentives?

The details are always in the fine print. Be sure to review the company’s Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for the plans you are comparing.

For example, 7 cents might be just a starting point. That rate may not include usage fees, fuel surcharges or utility fees that can take your rate far into double digits. And no one wants that.

Some energy companies, like TriEagle, bundle TDU charges into their advertised rate (without markup), so what you see is what you get. No surprises!

As for incentives, smart thermostats are a no-brainer. They even have “smart” in their name. Getting one with your plan is even smarter.

These devices help you control the temperature inside your home and give you the flexibility to monitor things on the go. TriEagle Energy offers customers smart energy plans that come with a smart thermostat, like the Honey Well T5 Thermostat.

Smart devices can help you save money by lowering your energy usage.

Learn more about what you can expect with TriEagle Energy.