High power bill? Here are 5 reasons why that might be -- and what you can do to help your wallet

Energy Ogre offered the following tips

Are you comfortable with what you're paying for electricity? (Pexels stock image)

Electricity is a huge part of our everyday lives in Texas.

Finding the right plan isn’t the most exciting thing, and no one likes seeing a high bill.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why your bill might be more expensive than you were expecting, according to Energy Ogre, a group that considers itself “the electricity advocate for Texans.”

Energy Ogre manages an electricity platform that helps people achieve the lowest possible electricity bill for their usage profile. By analyzing existing energy usage, Energy Ogre says it finds its customers the best rates and terms for their individual needs.

Here are those five considerations:

1. Are you plugged into your contract? 😬

One of the most common mistakes people can make is failing to pay attention to their electricity contract.

After getting into a plan, it’s easy to “set it and forget it.”

“That’s fine and dandy if you’re using an electricity management company like Energy Ogre, in which we find you a contract, manage your account, and then also select your future ones,” said Laura Thornquist, Energy Ogre’s Chief Operating Officer. “If you’re on your own though, and not paying close attention, the end of your plan can be a critical time. If you fall out of contract, retail electricity providers can put you in a variable month-to-month plan. These are normally much higher than your previously contracted rate. Your bill could get way higher if you don’t take care of it quickly.”

Here’s another thing to consider: Loyalty doesn’t necessarily pay when it comes to your electricity provider.

Introductory offers can be much more advantageous than sticking with the same provider year after year. In general, a renewal rate is normally higher than the one you previously had.

“With the way electricity pricing fluctuates, you really want to be on the ball. At the moment, Texas electricity rates are quite high heading into summer 2022, so finding the right plan can be especially difficult,” the experts at Energy Ogre told us. “Again, this is where you may want to bring in the pros to help you out. Electricity rates change every 15 minutes. If it’s not your job to be watching, it’s incredibly easy to miss good opportunities.”

2. It’s not just about paying attention. Make sure you’re paying on time, too. 🗓

Part of being on top of things is making payments on time.

First, doing so will help you avoid unnecessary late fees.

Second, missed or late payments affect future contracts.

Poor payment history may trigger future electricity providers to require you to pay a deposit before starting to use their service. (You don’t want that!)

Additionally, providers basically extend credit to you since electricity isn’t paid for until after use. So, when you don’t pay in a timely manner, the provider may make adjustments, such as shortening grace time before late fees or service disruptions begin.

Learn more on Energy Ogre’s website.

3. You’ll want to check the fine print. 👀

Picking an electricity plan isn’t super easy. Every plan comes with an electricity facts label, known as an EFL.

There can be confusing offers, numbers galore, and electricity jargon that can make you want to flip the switch and go to bed, Energy Ogre officials said.

So, you have to make sure you understand the various fees and rate structures outlined in the EFL to make sure you avoid being in a plan that doesn’t fit your needs.

Remember, there are SO many things to consider when selecting a plan. Ask yourself:

  • Does the plan make sense for the amount of electricity you use?
  • How long is the plan for, and when are you up for renewal?
    • Generally, you don’t want to be coming out of a contract in the summer, when rates are the highest, according to Energy Ogre.
    • Shorter-term plans may appear to be better, but if they drop you out in a high-priced time, it can be hard to get into a better rate that year.
  • What is the early termination fee for the contract?

4. A breakup isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

Want to know one thing many Texans don’t realize, according to Energy Ogre?

You don’t have to wait until the end of a contract to switch electricity providers.

If you find a rate that is much better than the one you’re currently paying, or it just better fits with the way you use electricity now, you may want to consider a change.

That being said, the Public Utility Commission of Texas allows your provider to charge an early termination fee, or an ETF, if you change to another company before your contract expires. That’s an important factor to consider when weighing if a switch will be cost-effective.

Don’t want that fee?

Texans can avoid an ETF if they switch no earlier than 14 days before their contract expiration date.

This goes back to being on top of things, Energy Ogre experts said.

Texas retail electric providers are only required to notify you 30 days before your contract expires.

Read more about early termination fees.

5. Look into vampire energy and home energy efficiency. 🔌

One way to lower your bill is to make your home more energy efficient.

Some fixes are easy to see, some are a little hidden.

For example, ever heard of vampire energy?

Vampire energy, also known as phantom loads, is a problem that affects almost all homes and apartments.

This comes into play when you have several appliances such as TVs, computers, cable boxes and video game consoles that get plugged in and forgotten.

Even when most of these devices are turned off, they still absorb energy and cost you money.

One of the most simple steps in a DIY home energy-efficiency audit is to make sure that things that don’t NEED to be plugged in, are indeed unplugged.

“Go ahead, kick Dracula out of the house, and start saving!” Energy Ogre experts said.

Scan this home energy-efficiency checklist for some more insights.

Bonus item: Examine your HVAC system.

Now, to one of the biggest uses of electricity in your house: It’s your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.

As the heat is turning up, all Texans search for that sweet relief of the AC.

Make sure your HVAC system is up to date, you’re changing out your air filters, checking your air ducts for damage and doing all the right things.

It definitely helps having a professional come out and doing a once-over to fix any issues, Energy Ogre officials advised.

Adding insulation to your house can also be a big help.

You’ll want to make sure air isn’t escaping the house through leaks in your doors, windows, dryer vents, electrical outlets or other sneaky spots.

Another easy fix is switching to compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL, bulbs and LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.

If you can replace the traditional, incandescent bulbs with these, they’ll cut your electricity consumption.

Plus, those bulbs normally last longer too. It’s a win-win, according to Energy Ogre.

All of this can be a lot, but hey, it’s better to know. You want to flip that light switch without making your wallet feel lighter!

See how Energy Ogre might be able to help at your home or business.