With daily temperatures soaring to 105 degrees as this story is being written, it should come as no surprise to any Texan that our state uses a lot of electricity.

A lot. In fact, Texas’s electricity consumption is higher than any other state and, at $24 billion a year, it matches that of Great Britain.

Flipping a switch to turn on the juice is something we all take for granted—at least until lightning knocks down a power line down the street, sending our houses back into the Dark Ages. Another thing we take for granted is the local power company. For most people, the utility company for their area is an anonymous entity we have little control over.

For Texans, this changed in 1999 when state legislators voted to deregulate the electric industry. Now, a majority of Texans have the ability to choose their electric company. And these electric companies now compete with each other to woo customers with loyalty plans, promotions, and best of all, competitive savings.

If you are new to the “choose your own” era, here are some guidelines to consider when shopping for an electricity provider:

  • What’s the kilowatt price?

Rates are computed on a per kilowatt-hour (kWh), based on an average monthly usage of 1,000 kWh. Be a savvy buyer and make sure to inquire whether the rate is fixed, indexed, variable, or otherwise subject to change.

 

  • What are the contract terms?

Like a mobile phone contract, your electric contract may have a stipulated length of time, penalties for interruption, or other costs such as consumption minimums. Poke around in the Terms of Service area and don’t be afraid to ask questions about unfamiliar terms—before signing up.

 

  • How do I switch electric companies?

This part is easy. Once you’ve signed up with a new provider, they will handle the transition from your old provider—so you don’t need to worry about loss of power or other hassles. It’s best to try and set up your start date that matches your current plan’s expiration date to avoid overlap of billing cycles or any termination fees

 

  • Ready to start shopping for electricity?

The first step is learning whether you live in an area where you are able to choose. Visit powertochoose.org and enter in your zip code to quickly find out. This site also has useful rate-shopping tools to help you compare different plans and getting rolling in the deregulation era.

 

Who are we watching in Texas? With Direct Energy, you have the ultimate power. When you select their Direct Your Plan option, you can actually customize your electricity plan, so that it really is all about you. The power is in your hands, Texas, especially with energy plans like these.