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The Best Electricity Rates Can’t Slay Vampire Power

Oct 31 2023

Even if you’ve thoroughly shopped for the cheapest electricity rates and best electricity deals, and even if you’ve locked in one of the best electricity rates available, you could still be paying a scary price for vampire power.

What is vampire power?

Vampire power is the energy that certain electronics and electrical appliances continue to draw from electrical outlets, even when turned off or idle. It’s also referred to as standby power, phantom load or idle load.

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a serious waste of energy and money. And it’s most likely happening in your home right now.

Where does vampire power lurk?

One way to identify electronics that consume power even in “off” or “sleep” mode is by an always-on LED. This could appear as a digital clock on a set-top box, a lit-up charging indicator or another type of status light.

Common items that consume standby power that you may have in your home include:

  • Battery chargers for tablets and smartphones
  • External power supplies for laptops and printers
  • TV set-top boxes, DVD players, video game consoles and Internet routers/modems
  • Smart appliances

What is the cost of vampire power?

Even though individual devices may not use huge amounts of vampire power, when you look at all the idle load in your home, it can really add up.

Although the amount of vampire power used varies from home to home, estimates say that always-on energy use by inactive devices can quickly add up to $100-200 a year in an average household.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to lose less to vampire power — and keep more of your hard-earned money.

The best electricity rates can’t slay vampire power — but you can!

As we mentioned, you may have one of the best electricity rates in Texas. But vampire power can quickly drain those savings. If you’re ready to banish phantom load, try these five tips:

1. Optimize your devices

Many devices — like computer screens, tablets and smartphones — let you adjust their energy efficiency settings. Take a look and see if you can minimize standby power consumption. Even some microwaves have power-saving modes that turn off the display — clock and all — when not in use.

2. Use a watt meter to find the biggest vampires

Buy or borrow a watt meter to figure out which electronics are consuming the most standby power. You can address these items first to make the biggest impact.

3. Use smart plugs and power strips

You can plug in electronics to a smart plug or power strip so they only draw power when needed. When you don’t need to use them, use your smartphone to turn the plug off, cutting power to the device. You can even set schedules for smart plugs to turn on and off at certain times. 

4. Manually unplug rarely used or fully charged devices

If you have a TV in a guest room that only gets used a few times a month, it doesn’t need to stay plugged in. The same goes for devices like smartphones, tablets, electric razors, power banks and other items that have been fully charged. Just unplug them to stop the energy drain in its tracks.

5. Buy more efficient appliances and electronics

If it’s time to replace an electronic device or appliance in your home, check out ENERGY STAR®-rated products. Items with an ENERGY STAR label have been externally certified against strict performance requirements and shouldn’t consume much standby power.

Run an electricity price comparison for greater savings

Eliminating vampire power, following energy-saving tips and finding the best electricity rates for your home and lifestyle are three ways to optimize your energy bill.

To search for some of the best electricity rates available in your area and make apples-to-apples electricity price comparisons, shop at EverythingEnergy.com.

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Prepaid Electricity Companies and How They Work

Oct 17 2023

Today’s consumers have more tools than ever to track and control their finances. Prepaid electricity companies offer one such way to keep an eye on spending.

Let’s look a little closer at pay-as-you-go energy plans and how they can be useful for some Texas electricity customers.

What is pay-as-you-go energy?

Just as the name implies, pay-as-you-go energy means you add money to your electricity account and get charged as you use energy — not at the end of a billing cycle. It’s similar to prepaid phone service, where you load money into your account, monitor your usage/balance and add more funds as needed.

How do prepaid electricity companies work?

According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), you can expect the following from prepaid electricity:

  • Instead of a traditional deposit, you’ll need to make a “connection balance” payment to begin prepaid service with a Retail Electricity Provider (REP). This sets up a positive balance before you activate your service. Depending on the REP, you may need an initial balance of up to $75. (Note that Transmission and Distribution Utility fees could increase this initial amount.)
  • As a prepaid customer, you won’t receive monthly electricity bills. Instead, you’ll receive e-notifications from your REP about your account balance. This will let you know when to add funds to your account to keep your service going.
  • Prepaid electricity companies have their own fee structure. There may be a minimum balance requirement of up to $10 to avoid service disruptions.
  • If your account falls below this minimum balance, your electricity could be turned off without much notice. If you have a negative balance, you’ll need to pay that off before the service is reconnected.
  • If you need to get on a deferred payment plan, you can contact your REP.

For more specifics about prepaid energy programs in Texas, visit the PUCT’s FAQ page.

It’s important to note that not all Texas Retail Electric Providers (REPs) offer this type of prepaid energy plan. If you’re interested in pay-as-you-go energy, make sure that is an option with the REP you select.

What are the advantages of prepaid electricity companies?

Prepaid, pay-as-you-go energy plans that don’t require a credit check can be an attractive option for people who:

  • Have not established a credit history.
  • Have poor credit history.
  • Do not have the funds to pay for a deposit on a regular power plan.
  • Are on a tight budget and want to pay in smaller sums. You’re in control of how much you pay and when.
  • Want to have more control over their energy usage and bill by allowing you to easily track your usage and your budget.
  • Don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract.

As you can see, this no-deposit electricity option could be helpful in certain situations.

Which prepaid electricity companies should I check out?

Before you sign up with an REP, make sure to read their prepaid plan details. Each REP may have slightly different rules.

A couple reputable Texas companies that offer pay-as-you-go energy are Reliant Energy and Direct Energy.

Reliant Energy

The Reliant Energy Prepaid Power plan offers “electricity with no deposit, no credit check and no hassle.” You can pay using the Reliant app, online or at one of their stores.

On the Reliant prepaid plan, you’ll get texts letting you know if your balance is low. You can also schedule automatic reloads, so you don’t have to worry about your balance getting too low.

Direct Energy

Another convenient option is Direct Energy’s Residential Prepaid Electricity Plan. Like Reliant, Direct Energy offers:

  • Same-day electricity service after your make your initial payment;
  • Online account management;
  • Usage and reminder texts/emails; and
  • Easy payment options.

What are alternatives to pay-as-you-go energy plans?

Prepaid electricity companies and plans aren’t your only option. Here are some other ways to fit your electricity bill into a tight budget:

Average Billing

Many Texas electricity companies, like Cirro Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Direct Energy, Reliant Energy and more, offer Average Billing. These programs make your bills more predictable by basing your balance on your average monthly charges over the past year. This helps you avoid bill spikes and makes it easier to manage your budget.

For details on how Average Billing works, including how your bills are calculated, contact the REP directly.

Multiple Payments

You can often make several smaller payments on your balance instead of one large payment. For example, Green Mountain Energy accepts up to 3 payments in 5 days, and up to 5 payments in 30 days. This option can help you meet your electricity needs without using pay-as-you-go energy.

Deferred Payments

If you fall behind on your account, many Texas power companies offer payment plans that can get you back on track. To see what help your current REP offers, speak to a customer service agent about your situation.

Low-Income Assistance

Many electric companies in Texas offer programs or benefits to help low-income households pay for their utilities. To see if you qualify for any of their programs, call your REP.

Shopping for electricity is easy with Everything Energy.

If prepaid energy is not for you, try shopping for a short- or long-term electricity plan with Everything Energy. With just a few clicks, you can narrow down your plan options and find the best fit for your home, family and lifestyle.

Simply enter your ZIP code to get started.

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Texas Energy Providers Agree — the Future is LED

Oct 02 2023

In August 2023, a rule that would effectively ban the sale of common incandescent and halogen light bulbs went into full effect. Those types of bulbs do not meet the minimum standard of emitting 45 lumens per watt, making them energy inefficient. One of the most eco-friendly alternatives is the light-emitting diode (LED). And if you’ve been paying close attention over the past several years, many Texas Energy Providers have recommended switching to LEDs.

Read on for more information about the future of lighting: LEDs.

What are LEDs? And how do LEDs work?

LEDs differ from other types of lighting. As ENERGY STAR explains, “An electrical current passes through a microchip, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs and the result is visible light.”

Heat created by the LEDs is absorbed into a heat sink. This keeps it from getting too hot and burning out. In fact, LEDs don’t usually “burn out” like we’re used to seeing with other types of lighting. Instead, their brightness slowly dims over time.

If you look at the packaging of an LED light, the lifetime listed is actually a prediction of when the light output decreases by 30%.

Why do Texas Energy Providers recommend LEDs so highly?

LED light bulbs offer a number of advantages over other light bulb types. Here are a few reasons why electric companies in Texas recommend we all switch to LEDs:

LEDs save energy

Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy (and up to 90% less energy) than incandescent light bulbs. If everyone used LEDs instead, this energy savings would significantly reduce carbon emissions.

LEDs save money

As they use so much less energy than regular bulbs, LEDs can help you lower your electricity bill. Lighting makes up about 15% of an average home’s electricity usage. Using LEDs instead of traditional bulbs can save an average of $225 per year.

LEDs last longer

It’s true that LEDs cost more than regular bulbs at the time of purchase. However, LEDs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. That means over time, you won’t need to buy nearly as many LED replacement bulbs for a fixture as you would if you used regular bulbs. Plus, the cost of LEDs continues to drop. This fact, combined with the money-saving efficiency of LEDs, gets you to a break-even point faster than in the past.

And while there are some drawbacks to LEDs (such as blue light exposure and increased light pollution) that need to be researched and addressed, they do show promising advantages over incandescent and other types of lighting.

What are some of the savings I can expect from an LED?

While you may or may not want to run out and replace all of your household lighting with LEDs at once, you can begin with impactful baby steps. Replacing bulbs in high-usage areas (like the kitchen and living room) is a great place to start. And replacing high-wattage bulbs with LED-equivalents will help you lower your usage.

Even one bulb can make a difference. For example, replacing a 43-watt halogen bulb with a 9-watt ENERGY STAR® rated LED bulb of the same luminosity could save $4.76 per year. And that’s just one bulb!

What else should I know about LEDs?

Texas energy providers like Reliant Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Direct Energy, Cirro Energy and Discount Power are examples of companies that embrace energy efficiency. Adopting LEDs is one easy way that homes and businesses can do just that.

You can also turn to ENERGY STAR® for more information about LEDs. Check out their LED purchasing checklist and their Choose a Light Guide to help you find the perfect LEDs for every room in your home.

Find and compare electricity rates in Texas

Residents of the Lone Star State have the power to choose Texas electricity providers for their homes! To make quick apples-to-apples comparisons of electric companies and plans, and sign up with just a few clicks, check out Everything Energy.

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