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Low-Cost Electricity Holiday Lighting Tips

Nov 29 2022

Opinions differ on when the holiday lights and decorations should be put up. Some like to start in early November to cover the entire holiday season. Others take a less-is-more approach and decorate mid-December. Two more popular options are to use the day after Thanksgiving or the first day of December as a cue to get the décor out. But no matter when you decorate, it’s ideal to use low-cost electricity holiday lighting.

Is a lower electricity bill possible when it comes to holiday lighting?

In a word, yes. If you’ve been using energy inefficient lights, and have not been mindful of energy usage, you can become more efficient in your holiday decorations. And that can lead to a potentially lower energy bill. 

Much of the possible savings comes down to the type of holiday lights you choose. Newer light-emitting diode (LED) lighting uses at least 75% less energy — and last up to 25 times longer — than traditional incandescent lights.

How do LEDs lead to lower energy bills?

LEDs are semiconductors that convert electricity into light. They are the most energy efficient bulb options, and the technology is still developing rapidly. 

LEDs emit very little heat. Meanwhile, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat, with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) releasing 80% of their energy as heat. That means LEDs consume just a fraction of electricity that their less-efficient counterparts do. And that makes LEDs a low-cost electricity lighting option.

According to energy.gov, it would cost$0.27 a day to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days using LEDs. Using incandescent lights, it would cost around $10 for those same 40 days. If you apply this strategy to all of your indoor and outdoor holiday lighting, the savings can add up.

Other benefits to using LEDs

In addition to their energy efficiency, low-cost electricity LEDs are also:

  • Safer. Because they don’t get hot like CFLs and incandescent bulbs, there’s less chance of combustion or burns.
  • Easier. You can connect many strands of LED holiday lights together without overloading the electrical socket.
  • More durable. Instead of glass, LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, meaning they’re less likely to break. 
  • Longer lasting. The same strands of LEDs you use this year could still be working in 40 years. Plus, if one light burns out, it doesn’t affect the entire strand. (Read more about the science behind LEDs here.)

You can find many styles of LED lights in stores around the country or through online retailers. There are even ENERGY STAR® certified decorative light strands and rebates available.

What are some other low-cost electricity holiday lighting strategies?

In addition to using LEDs, you can be more energy efficient with your holiday lights by doing the following:

Use light timers or smart plugs to make low-cost electricity lighting even lower

Put your indoor and outdoor holiday lights on a schedule with light timers. It can help avoid the temptation to leave everything on all day and all night.

A smart plug can be connected to your home’s Wi-Fi so you can turn the power on and off via your phone or voice command. Not only can you customize a schedule for your holiday lighting, but you can also easily make changes even when you’re away from home.

Use fewer lights to help reduce electricity bills

Of course, another low-cost electricity strategy is to use fewer lights. That doesn’t mean curbing the holiday magic. Rather, just because you have 15 strands of lights doesn’t mean you have to use them all.

How else can I lower my electricity bill over the holidays?

Aside from using low-cost electricity LEDs, there are many other ways you can use less energy over the holidays to help achieve a lower energy bill:

  • Opt for a Crockpot, pressure cooker or microwave instead of using the oven.
  • Lower your thermostat a few degrees during the day and use extra layers to stay warm.
  • Keep presents, decorations and toys away from heat vents.
  • Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load. Ditto for the clothes washer and dryer.
  • Enjoy screen-free evenings by the fire and candlelight.
  • Keep your garage door(s) closed in cold weather.
  • If you’re going away for a few days, unplug electronics to avoid phantom load and set your thermostat and hot water heater to “vacation mode.”
  • Let leftovers cool down at room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator.
  • Try turning down the temperature and sleeping with an electric blanket or hot water bottle so you don’t have to heat the whole house at night.

Where can I get low-cost electricity all year long?

If you want to work toward a lower energy bill beyond the holiday season, shop around for low electricity rates. Using Everything Energy’s easy comparison tools, you can find the best Texas energy provider and plan for your family and lifestyle. With just a few clicks, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and see estimated bill amounts from trusted Texas energy companies. Click here to get started.

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Compare ENERGY STAR® Tax Credits for Big 2022 Credits

Nov 22 2022

Did you purchase an energy-efficient appliance at the start of the year? Or are you planning to buy one this Black Friday or as a holiday gift? If so, you’ll want to research and compare ENERGY STAR® tax credits your purchase may be eligible for.


“ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions,” according to energystar.gov

ENERGY STAR® offers many ways to save electricity. Certified products include:

  • TVs, DVD players and sound systems
  • Light bulbs, light fixtures and decorative lighting
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Electric heat pump water heaters
  • Gas storage water heaters
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Windows, doors and skylights
  • Air conditioners, furnaces, smart thermostats and de-humidifiers
  • Pool pumps
  • Computers, printers and monitors

Sometimes, the federal government offers tax credits, rebates and other deals when you buy ENERGY STAR® certified items. This gives you an extra reason to become more energy efficient.

How do I research and compare ENERGY STAR® tax credits for 2022?

The energystar.gov website makes it easy to see if you qualify for any tax credits. Simply visit the Rebate Finder page and enter your ZIP code. Then, you will be shown all of the offers available in your area.

Or, you can visit the Equipment Tax Credits for Primary Residences page. This provides an alternate view of credits available to you.

How much of a tax credit will I get for buying an ENERGY STAR® certified appliance?

According to the ENERGY STAR® website, you can get a tax credit in one of two forms. Depending on the product, the credit is either 10% of the cost (up to $500) or a specific amount from $50-$300. Tax credits vary by the type and model of product you buy. 

However, not all ENERGY STAR® certified products qualify for a rebate or credit, so before you make a purchase, make sure you compare ENERGY STAR® tax credits. Also, read the fine print and know if your product choice(s) qualify for this benefit.

What else should I know as I compare ENERGY STAR® certified appliances?

Sometimes the best energy deals take a little upfront investment. ENERGY STAR® certified appliances may cost more than less efficient products, but they are better for the planet and your electric bill.

Are you thinking about investing in an ENERGY STAR® Certified product? If so, compare ENERGY STAR® tax credits, rebates and other special offers available to you before the year ends.

Compare energy prices and electricity providers the easy way

Shop and compare electricity prices and electricity suppliers to power your ENERGY STAR® products. Use our innovative search tools to filter, sort and evaluate your energy choices. Start your search today.

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5 Tips to Keep Energy Costs Down on Thanksgiving

Nov 15 2022

If you’ve noticed a higher-than-average electric bill lately, you’re not alone. Luckily, the worst of the Texas heat is over (for now), but with Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season soon, it’s easy to forget about all the potential extra energy costs.

How are energy costs affected by the holidays?

Holidays bring a number of reasons to use energy. Holiday lighting — both indoor and outdoor — can be a big one. Bumping up the thermostat to stay cozy is another. Big feasts and cookie baking lead to more dishes, which means more hot water … which can run up energy costs. 

As you can see, it’s a case of a little bit here, a little bit there. The kilowatt hours (kWh) add up and could lead to surprise electricity usage amounts when your post-holiday bill comes.

5 tips for keeping energy costs down this Thanksgiving

To make Thanksgiving (and the rest of the holiday season) more energy-efficient, follow these five tips:

Tip #1: Monitor your thermostat

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving get-together, pay attention to your home’s temperature. What started out as a comfortable setting for your small family may feel hot and stuffy once more people arrive, the food starts cooking, etc. This is an opportunity to lower the thermostat temperature and keep energy costs down.

This tip also applies if you’re going to visit family or friends and will be gone most of the day or overnight. Since there’s no need to heat an empty house, you can lower your thermostat several degrees while you’re gone and save some power.

Tip #2: Use energy-efficient cooking methods

In 2019, Americans used around 347 gigawatts of electricity combined to roast their turkeys this Thanksgiving. (Yep, someone sat down and did the math!) That’s equivalent to the world’s nuclear power capacity in 2012, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. That surely racked up quite the electricity cost. We can assume 2022 will bring similar usage.

Okay, so most people have no other option but the oven for preparing a whole turkey. One way to save energy is to cook other dishes simultaneously with the turkey. But you can also shave off some energy costs over the holiday by using energy-efficient appliances to prepare other foods.

Here are examples of estimated electricity usage by appliance type, in kilowatts (kW). (Appliances vary. Check the wattage on your appliance to find exact figures. Note: 1000 Watts = 1 kW)

  • Crockpot: .16 kW per hour
  • Pressure cooker: .7 kW per hour
  • Microwave: 1.0 kW per hour
  • Air fryer: 1.5 kW per hour
  • Electric stovetop (8” element): 2.1 kW per hour
  • Electric oven: 2.15 kW per hour

As you can see, the oven and stovetop use the most energy. Crockpots and pressure cookers are both convenient options that also consume little electricity.

If you need a little inspiration, try these Thanksgiving recipes for pressure cookers and slow cookers.

Tip #3: Enjoy your evening by firelight

Doesn’t the thought of friends and family gathering around a crackling, warm fire sound lovely? Try turning off the lights, lowering the thermostat a degree or two, and serving Thanksgiving dessert by the fireplace. Sure, one night of this may not make a huge dent in your energy costs. But if it becomes a regular practice, the savings can start adding up.

Don’t have a fireplace? Try a candle-lit evening instead.

Tip #4: Let leftovers cool on the counter

Don’t rush to put all those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. Let them cool down to room temperature (or as close as is safe for the food). This prevents the food from releasing heat in the refrigerator and causing the appliance to work harder. 

Check out more helpful fridge temperature tips from energy.gov to keep energy costs down here.

Tip #5: Put your dishwasher to work

Here’s an amazing fact: 61% of Americans argue over whether dishes should be pre-rinsed before being put in the dishwasher. 

Let us save you at least one argument this Thanksgiving. Go ahead and scrape large pieces of food into the trash or disposal. But don’t pre-rinse. Dishwashers and dish detergents are built to tackle these types of messes efficiently. And you’ll conserve some hot water and energy by only hand-washing non-dishwasher-safe and bulky items. 

Just make sure you have a full (but not crammed) load of dishes before you press ‘Start.’ This will get the most efficient wash and minimize energy costs.

Shop electricity plans for more ways to tame energy costs

Before you fill up on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie next week, head over to Everything Energy. You can shop and compare electricity plans and energy prices with ease. That way, you can check that off your holiday to-do list before the holidays even begin.

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Texas Power Companies Share Top Energy-Savings Tips

Nov 08 2022

Heading into winter, you may be thinking about your Texas energy rates. Specifically, your monthly bills for the cooler months may leave you wondering how you can use less electricity after another sizzling summer. But Texas power companies have your back with an abundance of tips, tricks and suggestions on how to make this winter an energy efficient one at home.

Texas power companies share their top tips for conserving energy

Check out the sage advice from five electric companies in Texas that know a thing or two about conserving energy.

Green Mountain Energy

To support its mission to change the way power is made, Green Mountain Energy is one of the Texas power companies you can count on for 100% clean, renewable energy. To cut down on electricity usage, they recommend that you:

  • Wait for a full load. Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load of dishes to wash. This will save water and energy. Also, let them air dry instead of using the heat cycle.
  • Stock your fridge. A full fridge — and freezer — can actually help your appliance be more efficient. That’s because the contents of a full refrigerator or freezer help contain the cold, so the unit won’t have to work as hard to cool the empty space.
    • Unplug electronics not in use. Taking the plug out of the wall will help minimize energy waste while a device is in standby mode (also called phantom load). 
    • Be an energy star. If you’re in the market for a new appliance, check out efficient models that have the ENERGY STAR® certification. 

Discount Power TX

In contrast to many Texas power companies that offer lots of extras and plan add-ons, Discount Power is a back-to-basics electricity provider in the Lone Star State. They have budget-friendly pricing and plans that fit every family’s needs. To stay warm on a budget this winter, the folks at Discount Power suggest:

Use extra blankets. Don’t let cozy blankets go to waste in the closet. Put them to good use for some free warmth. Adding a blanket or two during the day or at night will let you comfortably turn down the thermostat a few degrees and save energy.

Insulate the access door. Even if your attic is well-insulated, the access door may not be. Keep rising warm air from leaking into the attic by attaching fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door. This will form a good seal.

Let vents breathe. To heat your home properly and efficiently, make sure nothing is blocking the heating vents. Rearrange the furniture in each room so it doesn’t prevent airflow from the registers. And keep toys, laundry and other items from blocking the vents.

Lower your water heater temperature. Water heaters are often set to 140 degrees. However, setting them between 120 and 125 degrees is sufficient to provide hot water for your home, helping to reduce energy costs. It can also prevent scalding.

Direct Energy

Direct Energy is one of the Texas power companies that gives customers innovative tools and information to help them take control of their energy usage. Here are some of their take-charge tips:

  • Dress strategically. Layering with clothing made from natural fibers will help you stay truly warm. Cotton, wool and silk are all materials that breathe, but keep in the warmth. 
  • Get an HVAC tune-up. Annual maintenance of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems can help increase efficiency. 

Close garage doors. Keep your garage door closed as much as possible. This helps retain warmer air against the garage-side wall of the house. It will also function as a buffer against colder outside air. 

Cirro Energy

With Cirro Energy, you get an easy electricity experience. Everything from signup to bill paying is simplified, so you can get back to more important things. Some easy actions they suggest include:

  • Enjoy the sunshine. Even in winter, the sun is still a natural (and free!) source of energy. Open up your shades and curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to let heat in. (But close them at night to reduce any chill from cold windows.)
  • Switch to a smart thermostat. Most Texas power companies agree that a smart thermostat is an excellent energy-saving device. In addition to being programmable, a smart thermostat also learns your habits and preferences over time. That way, it can adjust automatically. Plus, you can control it from your smartphone. That means you can avoid heating or cooling an empty house if you’re out longer than expected.
  • Seal the flue. When you’re not using your fireplace, make sure to close the flue to keep chilly air from seeping into your home.
  • Clean dryer lint filters. Remove lint from the filter after every load of laundry, and clean dryer ducts annually to help your clothes dryer run more efficiently.

Reliant Energy

Counted on by residents across the state, Reliant Energy provides innovative ways to personalize your power and take control of energy efficiency. They suggest:

  • Cover your hot water heater. Older water heaters, or those with an R-value of less than 24, could benefit from a water heater “jacket.” The additional insulation can help minimize expensive heat loss. Note: R-value is a measure of the resistance of an insulating or building material to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulating capability.
  • Get alerted. Reliant is one of the Texas power companies that offers text alerts when your costs exceed a set amount. This benefit reminds you to be more energy efficient so you can try to stick to your budget. 
  • Be patient with your thermostat. As tempting as it is to crank your thermostat up 10 degrees to warm the house up quickly, don’t do it. Not only will it not heat things up faster, but it makes your heater exert more energy. (Also, frequently changing the temperature by a few degrees causes the heater to go into a costly and inefficient start-stop cycle.)
  • Weatherstrip. Seal any cracks or air leaks in exterior doors and windows to keep cold air outside.

Find the best Texas power companies for your home and budget

Now that you’ve explored some energy-saving tips from Texas power companies, it’s time to save more energy! Shop and compare plans the easy way  —with our personalized filters and average bill estimates. Start shopping today!

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The Cheap Energy Device You Need: Smart Plugs

Nov 01 2022

In times like these, even the cheapest electricity rates can add up. Luckily, we’re living in the age of advanced technology. By making your home “smarter,” you can better take control of your energy usage. And whether you’re dipping your toe into home automation or creating a total “smart home,” smart plugs are a cheap energy device that can help you conserve electricity use — and do so much more.

What is a smart plug?

smart plug is a small piece of equipment that you plug into an electrical outlet. You then plug your electrical item into the smart plug. Using your home’s Wi-Fi connection, it gives you the ability to throttle power on and off, even when you’re not physically there. 

For example, say you want to install a smart plug on a living room lamp. Simply insert the smart plug into the outlet. Then, plug the lamp into the holes on the smart plug and you’re ready to go. Yep, it’s that easy!

The main benefits of smart plugs are greater control over energy usage, potential energy savings and convenience.

How do smart plugs work as a cheap energy device to control electricity usage?

Smart plugs connect to your home Wi-Fi. You can then control them remotely via an app or by voice command. You can even set up a schedule for each plug. 

The smart plugs you purchase will come with instructions that tell you exactly which app(s) can be used to control it and how to set it up. If you already have home automation equipment, it’s best to make sure the smart plug(s) you purchase are compatible with the app(s) you currently use. 

Perhaps this sounds daunting if you’re new to home automation. However, using a smart plug offers great convenience. Plus, these small, cheap energy devices give you control over how you use electricity.

And best of all, you don’t need to worry about tools, electrical wiring or complex installation tasks. 

What happens if my Wi-Fi goes out?

If your internet cuts out, your smart plug won’t be able to respond to your voice commands or any adjustments you make in the app. However, there should be a button on the side of most smart plugs. Pressing this button keeps items operational even without Wi-Fi. 

If you’re on vacation or otherwise have an important task scheduled for one or more of your smart plugs while you’re away, you may worry that your Wi-Fi will let you down. To know for sure, many internet providers let you monitor your home Wi-Fi status and reset your connection remotely via an app.

How much do these cheap energy devices cost?

Pricing depends on the brand and type of smart plug you choose. You can usually find high-quality, single plugs for less than $10 online or in retail stores. Packs with two or four of the devices can net you a better price per plug.

How can I use smart plugs around my home as a cheap energy control option?

  • Device charging

Laptops and cell phones charge faster these days than they did a decade ago. Plus, some devices can actually overcharge (damaging the battery) or overheat (creating a fire hazard). And there’s always sneaky phantom load to contend with — using energy unnecessarily when a device is in standby mode. So, charging your laptop or smartphone overnight or for extended periods of time is not efficient. A smart plug can be used and automatically shut off after a set amount of time.

  • Crockpot scheduling

Many Crockpots do not include the option to turn on or off at pre-set times. For those appliances, a smart plug can be used to start or stop the cooking when needed.

  • Coffee brewing

Likewise, a smart plug can transform a non-programmable coffee maker. By scheduling your machine to start brewing when your alarm goes off, you’ll always wake up to a hot cup of Joe.

  • Lamp operating

We all have that one lamp that always seems to be left on for way too long. Attached to a smart plug, that lamp is now under your control. Schedule it to turn on to comfort pets at night, to deter intruders when traveling or even to help get you out of bed. Then, turn it off remotely via your smartphone, or set up an automatic shut-off time.

  • Holiday lighting

Strands of lights make for a festive atmosphere. But they also consume electricity. Smart plugs, like traditional light programmers, allow you to put your lights on a schedule. But you also gain the ability to turn them on or off from your smartphone.

  • Cheap energy peace of mind

Are you the type to leave for vacation without turning off the curling (or regular) iron? A smart plug will save the day. Instead of being consumed by worry, you can simply turn off the smart plug from your phone. 

How many smart plugs do I need for my home?

The choice of how many smart plugs to own is yours! There’s no “correct” number. Some people like to start with one and see how they like it. Others love the convenience of on-the-go control so much that they use smart plugs all over their home.

No matter how “smart” you decide to make your home with these handy, cheap energy devices, know that you’re not alone. In 2021, the smart plug market was valued at $5.29 billion. But it is expected to balloon to $99.84 billion by 2030 according to a recent market report by The Brainy Insights. 

It looks like the smart plug is here to stay!

Will I see a return on my investment using this cheap energy efficiency solution?

While smart plugs are a cheap energy device, they do still represent a small investment. In some cases, they could eventually save you money by helping you use electronics less frequently and only when needed. 

Some scenarios will probably not net you large energy and monetary savings. For instance, using a smart plug for a coffee maker or lamp will provide added convenience (and peace of mind during travel). But these items consume such a small amount of energy that it could take a while to see a return on your investment (ROI). 

However, in other scenarios, a smart plug could start paying for itself quickly. Try using your smart plug with an item that:

  • Is turned on many hours a day when it doesn’t need to be; 
  • Doesn’t have an internal automatic shut-off mechanism; and
  • Uses more than a trivial amount of kilowatt hours when active

In short, to see an ROI, you should be strategic in your smart plug use. 

Find cheap electricity plans for your smart home

How do you decide on an electricity provider or plan with so many available in Texas? Turn to Everything Energy. With tools that quickly narrow down options based on your lifestyle and preferences, it’s easy to make the right choice — from cheap energy and price security to extra perks, clean energy and more. Start your search today!

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