There are over 60 different energy suppliers competing for your business on any given day in Texas. Many of these electric companies have websites that are confusing and nearly impossible to navigate, their rates and fees hidden by dense industry jargon and misleading advertising. Who has the spare the time to sort through the choices spread out over all these different sites and companies?
A utility bill usually includes electricity, water, and gas charges. Some states also combine these with sewage and garbage, so be sure to check your bill to see exactly what it includes. A utility bill will show the breakdown of energy and power used to keep the water running, the lights on, and the heater operating. The bills usually come once a month and generally it do not include things like internet, cable, or rent.
Go retro with a crock pot. Speaking of ovens, there's nothing that heats up our house faster than a preheating oven and a few pans on the stove top. Slow cookers, on the other hand, use less energy and won't turn your kitchen into, well, an oven. I think the crock pot often gets a bad rap thanks to the old way of slow cooking: bland recipes created from canned and prepackaged ingredients. But the slow cooker is enjoying a quiet revival, and with it we're seeing better recipes, such as this pulled-pork sandwich and these triple chocolate brownies.
If the $259 price tag is a bit too steep, Evapolar also offers another cheaper model of its portable AC unit for $199. Called the evaLight, it's very similar to its newer, more powerful sibling, but has a bit less cooling power (1200 BTU), and can only cool about 32 square feet. It's also a touch smaller, measuring 6.87 × 6.70 × 6. 69 inches, and is just under three pounds without water.
Fixed-rate, long-term (contract) plans provide stability in electricity rates. If market energy costs suddenly trend upward where you live, you can rest assured that you won’t have to pay more out of pocket. However, if you want to switch to a different, lower-cost plan before the end of the contract term, you’ll likely have to pay a cancellation or early termination fee.
You may be asking yourself: What the heck does “fixed rate electricity” mean and why should I even think about getting it? By choosing a fixed rate electricity plan, you’ll get more price consistency month-to-month and probably even save a little cash over time because your electricity rate stays the same for the duration of your utility contract.1
One option is to look out for fixed and variable rate plans. Most plans are offered in variable rates, but some providers offer a fixed rate over a set period of time. It’s impossible to say how variable rates may rise and fall, but if you look at energy rates over time, you may feel that a fixed rate plan will offer cheaper electricity in the long run.
When I placed the evaSmart on my bedside table for the evening and filled its little tank to the brim with water, I managed to sleep through the night even with all the windows closed and the temperature outside slowly climbing. In fact, the only time I did wake up in the night was to turn down the unit a bit, as I found the fan to be a little too effective.
In the winter, I keep my thermostat on 62. Often, I don’t even turn the heater on until late November or early December. I figure that between my low temp in the winter and the months without anything at all in the spring and fall, that I can afford to spend a ton on a/c to keep cool in the summer. So I cut back spending on things I don’t care about (heat) so I can spend more on what I do care about (a/c). *grin* I live in KS.
Short-term prices are impacted the most by weather. Demand due to heating in the winter and cooling in the summer are the main drivers for seasonal price spikes. In 2017, the United States is scheduled to add 13 GW of natural-gas fired generation to its capacity. Additional natural-gas fired capacity is driving down the price of electricity, and increasing demand.
Many utility companies offer more than one time-of-use policies. These plans may have different hours classified as peak hours, or may even include some “partial-peak” hours that charge less than peak rates, but more than off-peak rates. Many rates will depend not only on the hour that you’re using electricity, but also the season. Summer rates are often higher than winter rates because of energy-intensive air conditioning systems running during hot days. You might also have a plan that has lower peak rates, or fewer peak hours, on the weekends.