Affordable Electricity is Harder For Renters than Homeowners in Texas

Report Looks at access to Affordable Electricity and Gas

A report issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy sheds light on the energy burden of American households; in particular, lower income households.  The report looks at how much of their income households spend on electricity and other energy bills.

The report looks at what percentage of household income is spent on utility bills.  It breaks down various demographics including income, race, and homeownership status.   The report defines a high energy burden as paying more than 6% of income on energy bills.  A severe energy burden is defined as paying more than 10% of household income on energy.  Taken has a whole, over two thirds of low-income American household face either a high or severe energy burden.

Renters have higher energy burden (lower affordability)  than homeowners

The report highlights several demographics as having higher burdens than average.  These include:

  • Low-income households with older adults
  • Native American, Black and Hispanic Households
  • Those living in mobile homes
  • Renters
Nation Energy Burden
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The report doesn’t seek to explain why renters do worse than homeowners in this metric.  But possible factors that could impact the energy burden of renters include:

  • Income – renters on average have a lower income than homeowners
  • Lack of weatherization and energy efficiency – Since landlords typically aren’t the ones paying electricity bills, they are not incentivized to invest in improvements aimed at lowering utility bills. Renters aren’t likely going to be living in the home long enough to make such investments themselves.
  • Older Homes – Rental properties are more likely to be older homes. The report shows that households living in homes built before 1980 have an above average energy burden


Geographical Breakdown: Affordable Texas Energy compared to other areas

The study looked at 25 metro areas.  Two of these areas, Dallas and Houston, are in Texas.  Both Dallas and Houston performed better than the national average in terms of affordability (called energy burden in the study) for low income households.  The percentage of low income households with high or severe energy burdens was 6.7% and 7.1% respectively.  This compares to a national average of 8.1%.

This might be taken as a surprise given that, in general, Texans spend more on electricity than other parts of the country.  Texas electricity rates tend to be lower than other areas.  But a warm client leads to more kilowatt hours of electricity used on average by Texas households. It should also be noted that energy utilities don’t just include electricity.  They include natural gas for heating, cooking etc…  In parts of the country where heating is more of a priority than cooling, gas bills will be higher relative to electricity bills.


How higher electricity bills impact households

High electricity bills can impact households in several different ways including:

  • Health and comfort
  • Mental Health
  • Inability to benefit from economic development and get ahead financially


The Importance of weatherization in reducing energy costs

The report discusses weatherization as an important way to save money and reduce energy bills. Of course, it also helps the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.

Weatherization refers to the practice of using insulation, caulking, and sealing techniques to reduce energy consumption. This is accomplished by weatherizing your home with various materials that will effectively keep you from having to spend money on utilities throughout the year. In fact, these techniques can reduce household energy consumption by about 30% which means more money for other uses. These changes are fairly simple ones that don’t require any major renovations or structural changes.  The challenge is that the households that could most benefit from such cost reducing measures are also the ones least likely to be able to afford them.


What electric companies could do to improve access to low cost affordable electricity

The report doesn’t talk specifically about what electric companies can do to reduce energy burdens.  The focus is more on what can be done at the state, municipal, and community level.  These recommendations include:

  • Set specific goals with regard to energy affordability
  • Identity specific groups effected by energy insecurity and build programs for them
  • Increase funding at all leaves for energy efficiency and weatherization
  • Offer financing options


Impact of electricity deposits on energy burden

Though it wasn’t specifically addressed in the report, it is worth mentioning another factor other than electricity bills that can add to the energy burden of low income Texas households.  This is the effect of deposits.  Most electricity providers in Texas will ask for a deposit for new electric service if the applicant doesn’t meet certain credit thresholds or has a limited credit history.   This tends to impact those who are already struggling financially.  This further adds to their energy burden. There are no deposit electricity plans available to people with credit issues.  These tend to be prepaid plans.

To read the full report: Visit Here




What You Need to Know About The TXU Free Pass Plan (Updated 2020)

TXU is the company that popularized Free Nights and other time of day electricity plans in Texas.  Now the electric company that brought you Free Nights and Solar Days has introduced a plan called the TXU Energy Free Pass 12 Plan.

Note: Texas electricity rates change often.  The rates referenced in this review are as of July 2020.  To compare current TXU rates with other electric companies, enter your zip code at the top of this page.

How does the TXU Free Pass Plan work?

The plan is fairly simple.  For each billing period, TXU takes your 7 highest electricity usage days and subtracts those days from your bill.  For those days you are charged a 0¢/kWh energy charge and the typical pass through fees associated with Oncor or your local distribution utility are waived.

What is the KWh charge on the TXU Free Pass plan?

In the Oncor service area which includes, Dallas and Fort Worth, the energy charge is 15.7¢/kWh.  In addition to that, you will pay the Oncor passthrough fee of 3.577¢/kWh.  This brings the total electricity rate to 19.3¢/kWh for the days you pay for.

If you used exactly the same amount of electricity every day of a 30 day billing cycle, your 7 free days would account for 23.3% of your total electricity usage.

TXU publishes an average electricity rate of 13.9¢/kWh for 1000 kWh of usage in the Oncor delivery area.  To arrive at this number, they assume that 33.1% of your electricity usage occurs during your 7 free days.

electricity rate for TXU Free Pass Plan

Every household is different. Its hard to predict exactly what your final average electricity rate would be.

The table below shows TXU’s published 1000 kWh average electricity rate for each delivery area including the 7 free days.  It also includes the energy charge plus TDU pass through charge for the non-free days of the plan.

TXU Free Pass Electricity Rates

City (TDU) 1000 kWh Average Rate Non-Free Day Rate
Dallas (Oncor) 13.9¢/kWh 19.3¢/kWh
Houston (Centerpoint) 14.9¢/kWh 20.9¢/kWh
Lewisville (TNMP) 14.9¢/kWh 19.9¢/kWh
Abiliene (AEPN) 13.9¢/kWh 19.1¢/kWh
Victoria (AEPC) 14.3¢/kWh 19.8¢/kWh

Is the TXU Free Pass plan a good deal?

The challenge for consumers is to shift their electricity usage habits to take advantage of the free periods.  With Free nights or mornings plans, consumers can change when they do their laundry or wash their dishes.  They can change their pool timers or do other things to plan their daily electricity-intensive chores at the right time.

It’s a little more difficult, however, to shift electricity usage to specific days of the month.  Summer is approaching in Texas which means A/Cs are about to be running all day every day.  You can’t just shove all of your air conditioning into 7 days of the month.

For most consumers, this plan would act somewhat like a free weekends plan.  If you work during the week, you should be adjusting your thermostat to use less electricity to cool your home during the days when you are working.  On the weekend, when you are more likely to be home, you probably want to keep the thermostat at a more comfortable temperature.  You’re also more likely to do energy intensive household chores like laundry during the weekend.  This adds together to make the weekends likely your highest electricity usage days.


What else do I need to know about the Free Pass plan?

  • The plan comes with a 12 month contract commitment
  • The cancelation fee is $150
  • It has a base charge of $9.95 per month plus a pass through base charge from your TDU of between $3.42 and $10.53 depending on where you live.
  • The plan has a renewable energy content of 6%

See Also: TXU AutoSaver Plan

Filed under: TXU Free Pass Plan Review

What You Need To Know About the TXU AutoSaver Plan

Shopping for a cheap electricity rate in Texas is a tricky business.  Most electricity plans in Texas feature rate formulas rather than actual guaranteed rates.  The TXU AutoSaver plan is no exception.  At the end of the day, your actual electricity rate will depend on several factors; some of which are outside of your control.

Here we outline the details of this new plan and compare it to plans available from Gexa and TriEagle Energy.

The TXU Autosaver plan is advertised as a way to allow consumers to benefit from any drop in natural gas prices while protecting them from rising prices beyond a certain level.

The electricity rate in the TXU Autosaver 12 plan is tied to the price of natural gas.  As the primary source of fuel for electricity in Texas, natural gas drives much of the pricing of electricity. It should be noted that this plan comes at a time when natural gas prices are already near historical lows.  The plan features a price cap feature that puts an upper limit on the electricity rate once natural gas hits a price of $3.50/MMBtu.  At the time of this writing, that is about double the current price of natural gas.


Historical Price of Natural Gas

Natural Gas Historical Price Chart


What is the electricity rate on the TXU AutoSaver Plan?

The rate customers pay for this plan is based on a complicated formula that includes a “Natural Gas Factor”.  This allows the rate on the plan to fluctuate based on the monthly closing price for natural gas.  The plan also includes a flat monthly charge of $9.95, a Base Rate of 7.4¢ per kWh, and TDU pass through fees.

Here is how that looks:

Base Rate (per kWh) 7.4¢
Base Charge (per Month) $9.95
Natural Gas Charge (per kWh) 1.995¢
Flat Pass-through Delivery Charge $3.42
Pass-through Delivery Charge per kWh 3.5778¢
Total Average Rate (1000 kWh) 14.3¢/kWh

* For this illustration we used the pricing for the Oncor delivery area which includes the Dallas / Fort Worth area.  Different parts of the state have different rates. We will also assume a natural gas price of $1.50/MMBtu

The above data is pull from the plan’s Electricity Facts Label on July 14. 2020

TXU Autosaver EFL

Is the TXU AutoSaver Plan a Good Deal?

The plan does have an upside cap that prevents the Natural Gas Charge from going above 4.655¢.  This puts an upside limit on your effective electricity rate of 17.0¢ per kWh if you use 1000 kWh in a billing cycle.

But let’s consider a mathematically best case scenario where natural gas prices go to zero.  This is not a realistic real world scenario, but it allows us to see the absolute lower bounds of the electricity rate under this plan.

Base Rate (per kWh) 7.4¢
Base Charge (per Month) $9.95
Natural Gas Charge (per kWh)
Flat Pass-through Delivery Charge $3.42
Pass-through Delivery Charge per kWh 3.5778¢
Total Average Rate (1000 kWh) 12.3¢/kWh

Even at a zero cost of natural gas, this plan would still have an all-in electricity rate of 12.3¢ per kWh for the 1000 kWh usage level in the Oncor delivery area.  At the time of this writing, there are plans available with advertised rates below 6.0¢ at 1000 KWh usage in the Oncor delivery area.

To be fair, these plans have their own potential drawbacks.  Many of them rely on usage credits that kick in right around 1000 kWhs of usage to create a best case rate scenario right at 1000 kWh.  If your actual usage falls outside of this range your effective all-in electricity rate could be much higher than the advertised rate.  This is illustrated in the chart below.  You can see that the effective rate for the Gexa Saver Deluxe 12 Plan drops substantially at 1000 kWhs of use but jumps sharply once usage exceeds 2000 kWh.  This is because the usage credit only applies to usages that fall between 1000 and 2000 kWhs.

So how does the TXU AutoSaver plan compare to plans with a simpler structure?

Trieagle Energy, a company known for less complicated rate plans currently has a plan available for 9.7¢ per kWh at the 1000 kWh usage level.  This plan doesn’t rely on usage credits and isn’t indexed to the price of natural gas. This means your actual rate is going to be close to the advertised rate once your bill arrives.

Bottom Line

It’s very easy for a consumer of electricity in Texas to get stuck in the weeds trying figure out what is the cheapest electricity plan for them.  The plans are usually complicated, and the numbers can be overwhelming.  Below we have developed a chart that compares the TXU AutoSaver Plan to plans from Gexa and Triangle.  You can see at a glance what you might expect to pay for electricity based on how much electricity you use.  It also serves as an illustration of just how volatile electricity rates can be even under a single plan.

TXU vs Gexa and Trieagle kWh

This chart shows what your actual bill would be based on the same data.

TXU Gexa Trieagle cost

Electric Companies Are Offering Free Smart Thermostats and Rebates

Updated May 2019

Now is a great time to pick up a new smart thermostat for your home. The savings on your monthly electricity bill will be immediately noticeable and appreciated.

Check below to see if there is an electricity provider in your area offering an incentive for you to take the plunge.

Smart Thermostat Offers

State Power Company Promotion
Arizona APS $30 bill credit
California LADWP $75 rebate
California SoCalGas $75 rebate
California Southern California Edison $150 rebate
Colorado Xcel Energy $50 rebate
Georgia Georgia Power $75 rebate
Idaho Avista Utilities $75 rebate
Idaho Rocky Mountain Power $100 rebate
Ilinois Ameren Illinois $100 rebate
Illinois ComEd $100 rebate
Illinois MidAmerican Energy $25 rebate
Illinois Peoples Gas $20 rebate
Indiana AEP Indiana Michigan Power $225 rebate
Indiana Vectren $75 rebate
Iowa Alliant Energy $100 rebate
Iowa MidAmerican Energy $75 rebate
Louisiana SWEPCO $100 rebate
Maryland Baltimore Gas & Electric $100 rebate
Maryland PEPCO $100 rebate
Massachusetts Berkshire Gas $100 rebate
Massachusetts National Grid Massachusetts $100 rebate
Michigan AEP Indiana Michigan Power $225 rebate
Michigan SEMCO Energy $70 rebate
Michigan DTE Energy $50 rebate
Minnesota ALP Utilities $25 rebate
Missouri Ameren Missouri $50 rebate
Nevada NV Energy $25 rebate
Nevada NV Energy free smart thermostat
New Hampshire Liberty Utilities $100 rebate
New York Consolidated Edison $135 rebate
New York National Grid Long Island $75 rebate
New York National Grid NYC $75 rebate
New York National Grid Upstate $75 rebate
North Carolina Duke Energy $50 rebate
Ohio AEP Ohio $75 rebate
Ohio Columbia Gas of Ohio $75 rebate
Oklahoma AEP Public Service Co of OK $150 rebate
Oregon Avista Utilities $75 rebate
Oregon Portland General Electric $75 rebate
Oregon Cascade Natural Gas $50 rebate
Oregon NW Natural Gas $50 rebate
Oregon Pacific Power $50 rebate
Oregon Energy Trust $50 rebate
Pennsylvania Champion Energy $50 rebate
Pennsylvania PPL $100 rebate
Pennsylvania UGI Electric $100 rebate
Pennsylvania UGI Gas $100 rebate
Rhode Island National Grid Rhode Island $75 rebate
South Carolina Duke Energy $50 rebate
South Dakota MidAmerican Energy $25 rebate
Texas Champion Energy $50 rebate
Texas CoServ $50 bill credit
Texas CPS Energy free Honeywell WiFi Thermostat
Texas Direct Energy free Echo Dot
Texas Gexa Energy free Ecobee3 lite
Texas Infinite Energy free Nest
Texas Reliant Energy free Nest
Texas SWEPCO $100 rebate
Texas TriEagle Energy free Honeywell WiFi Thermostat
Utah Dominion Energy $50 rebate
Utah Rocky Mountain Power $50 rebate
Vermont Burlington Electric $50 rebate
Vermont Vermont Gas $50 rebate
Virginia Colmbia Gas of Virginia $50 rebate
Washington Avista Utilities $75 rebate
Washington Pacific Power $50 rebate
Washington Puget Sound Energy $75 rebate
Wisconsin Alliant Energy $75 rebate
Wisconsin Wisconsin Utilities $75 rebate
Wyoming Rocky Mountain Power $100 rebate

How is an Electric Car Battery Made?

We know that electric cars are good for the environment. When you own a battery-powered electric vehicle, you also avoid trips to the gas pump. Being able to plug into a 240-volt outlet, charge the battery and go is one of the other great things we love about battery electric vehicles. And when you’re out and about, you’ll find a growing number of EV charging stations in Texas for charging on the go.

Electricity stored in the battery provides power to the motor to get the car moving. The downside for some electric vehicles is their inability to compete in long range trips compared to gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. For instance, the standard Nissan Leaf is equipped with a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery and has a range of up to 150 miles when fully charged, while the average range for a gas car is about 300 to 400 miles on a full tank. However, most Americans will drive a lot less than 150 miles in a given workday, so you can always recharge the battery once you’re home and have it ready for the next weekday work commute.

Electric Car Batteries Have Come a Long Way

Batteries for electric vehicles are much different from the ones we use in our radios, remotes and toys. Electric vehicle batteries are powerful enough to run an electric car. So what type of battery packs do electric vehicles use? Lithium-ion batteries are the most common. However, there are also nickel-metal hydride, lead-acid and ultra-capacitor battery alternatives. One of the significant concerns about electric car batteries is the cost. When battery packs first entered the masses, the average estimate ran to be about $1,000 per kWh. The cost seemed a little steep at the time, in 2010. The good news is that the price keeps falling every year, and it looks like that trend will be continuing for the foreseeable future1.

Electric Battery Materials

Lithium is one of the primary materials of an electric bar battery. However, other elements go into battery packs like cobalt, manganese, nickel and graphite. Positive and negative electrodes and an electrolyte are the three main components in a lithium-ion battery. Carbon or graphite goes into the negative electrode, and a metal oxide makes the positive. An electrolyte will use a lithium salt from an organic solvent. Unfortunately, many of these other components are close to being rare earth materials with questionable environmental hazards associated with producing the materials. So what do you do if you want to minimize your carbon footprint with an electric vehicle, but also know the harsh conditions and human suffering that go into making the batteries? There are viable alternatives in the pipeline, and companies like Tesla are making a reasonable effort by getting materials from North America, which enforces ethically-sourced policies.

The challenges facing many electric car makers is their ability to manufacture a sufficient amount of batteries for market demand. The demand for electric vehicles is growing all around the world. People want to start driving electric cars because these vehicles don’t emit harmful pollution from a tailpipe, and many people don’t want to rely on big oil. Tesla has built an enormous Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, in hopes of keeping up with demand. However, China is still the market leader, and factories are opening up all around the world. This is all good news for electric cars.

How Long do Electric Car Batteries Last?

One of the big questions for consumers is how long do electric car batteries last? It all depends on the car and the type of battery pack it uses. Electric vehicles from Chevy and Tesla use liquid-conditioned batteries which tend to hold their capacity better than passive air cooling like the battery packs found in Nissan’s.

Purchasing a new electric car battery is more expensive than the rechargeable batteries used in gas-powered cars. After all, replacing an electric car battery pack can set you back several thousand dollars, while standard automotive batteries are typically less than 100 dollars. The good news is that electric car batteries tend to last much longer than gas-powered vehicles. Even better news is the warranty that most manufacturers offer. It’s not unusual to find electric-car makers offering 8 year/100K mile battery degradation warranties. 

The Future is Looking up

There are over three million EVs and plug-hybrids on the road worldwide, with the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S being the two of the most popular electric cars. It’s interesting to note that the two most popular EVs use different types of electric batteries. A 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range uses an 88.5kWh battery, while the Nissan Leaf uses a 40 kWh battery. The hope is that the cost of purchasing and maintaining an electric vehicle will be much like its combustion-engine equivalent. And EV batteries are not just for the wheels on the ground. Smaller electric vehicle batteries are being manufactured for electric planes too.

Visit Vault Electricity to find an electrical service provider best suited to your needs and philosophies. You can compare green energy providers in Texas utilizing 100% renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power.

Texas’ Most Energy Efficient Cities

When people think of Texas, energy efficiency is not the first thing that comes to mind. After all, people unfamiliar with the Lone Star state imagine a state full of cowboys, rodeos, Tex Mex food, big hair and oil. However, Texans care about the environment too. Three of the state’s biggest cities, Dallas, Austin and Houston, are showing the world that the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” also applies to sustainability efforts. It’s not just the big three cities leaning towards the green lifestyle. Many other Texas green cities are leading the way too. For instance, Corpus Christi is a hub for wind power, which can help lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas Green Cities

There is a list of Texas green cities. How do you get on the list? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a great start. After all, cities are the worst offenders of greenhouse gasses. Most people live and work in urban and suburban areas, consuming energy along the way. The high demand for energy releases almost three-quarters of carbon dioxide emissions. One way to improve air quality is to significantly reduce our consumption of electrical power.

LEED-certified buildings use less energy, water and fewer resources. Green buildings have a positive effect on people and the planet. It’s also a great way to get on the Texas green cities list. From homes to commercial buildings, LEED certification creates a healthier indoor space, faster lease-up rates and a higher resale value.

Nobody likes sitting in traffic. It can cause stress levels to rise. Plus, all these vehicles on the road are creating harmful greenhouse gas emissions. This is why a city’s public transportation system comes into play in ranking the top Texas green cities. Imagine if there were fewer cars on the road. We’d have shorter commute times and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Texas Energy Efficient Cities


Yes, Houston is an oil town and home to the NASA Johnson Space Center. It’s also on the right track to taking its greener side to new heights. Houston makes the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of efficient cities because it has 247 ENERGY STAR® buildings. Plus, Houston’s green power program has made it the number one renewable city in the U.S. In the fiscal year 2017, solar and wind power accounted for nearly one billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the city of Houston. Green power represented almost 90% of the city’s total energy consumption5. Houston is also making great strides in its public transportation system. It’s one of the top 25 cities in the U.S. for public transportation, helping residents cut their average commute time by up to 83%3. Check out these other changes done over the last 10 years:

  • In 2009, the city sought out performance contractors to rework its wastewater treatment plants to reduce energy use.
  • The city started replacing all traffic lights with LED lights. Its Streetlight Pilot Project reportedly saves the city $10,000 daily and $3.6 million annually.
  • The Department of Energy gave Houston a $23 million grant to weatherize homes in the Houston area. The city created the Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) to reduce residents’ energy consumption by the installation of energy efficiency upgrades; caulking, weather-stripping, air conditioners, wall and attic insulation, solar screens, refrigerators and more. REEP provides these upgrades to income-qualified residents at no charge.


Dallas is more than just home to America’s NFL team. The city also scores big as one of the top Texas energy efficient cities. Dallas is ranked third in the nation in the EPA’s 2018 top ENERGY STAR® cities list with 468 certified buildings1. The city improves its air quality through electrical energy consumption reduction. The city’s Aviation Department replaced its HVAC system to a more efficient boiler and chillers that reduce emissions. The Public Works and Transportation department replaced 258 traffic lights with LED modules. The Dallas Zoo reduces costs of electricity and battery purchases with irrigation on control clocks. There are over 1,000 LEED certified building projects in the works with many already completed. The Ecology Parks Building and Jack Evans Police Headquarters opened with LEED certification. All one million square feet of The Dallas Convention Center is LEED certified Silver. According to North Texas Green Council, the Convention Center fulfills all of the silver certification qualifications, some include:

  • A building must save 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually by equipment replacement and retrofitting.
  • Water consumption must be reduced by nominally 7 million gallons annually from replacing existing plumbing fixtures.
  • Renewable sources must power 100 percent of energy.
  • Hot water must be heated by “54 rooftop solar-thermal panels with a conventional gas-fired water heating system.”

Select the best renewable energy plan in Dallas and keep it green.


Austin is known as the counter-culture rich, music city of the Lone Star state, and environmental consciousness tends to coincide with that attitude. The city is implementing strategies to address the challenges of climate change. Austin ranked number 10 on Mother Nature Networks’ list of America’s greenest cities2. MNN ranked Austin high on their list because of its plan to be carbon neutral by 2020, and the city has a set a goal for net-zero emissions by 2050. Austin is also home to a high number of parks, preserves and outdoor recreation spots with trees and plants that help beautify the environment and clean the air. And, while there are still plenty of cars on the road, the city has been pushing the use of plug-ins since 2005. Austin Energy’s Plug-In EVerywhere network is a program made to advocate the use of hybrid vehicles. As of early 2019, there are more than 250 plug-in stations throughout the area, with more on the way4.

If you’re living or doing business in an area that lets you switch your electricity provider, Vault Electricity can help you select a green energy provider that saves you money and helps improve our quality of life.

Avoiding Gas and Electrical Danger During and After Flooding

It’s important to take precautions to avoid gas and electrical danger during and after a flooding event. Unfortunately, here in Texas, flooding is all too common. We’ve had years where we’ve experienced unprecedented amounts of rainfall, causing “historic” floods in cities like Houston. Here are some things you need to know when there’s a flood.

What to Do Before a Flood

There are hazards both inside and outside your home. A tropical storm comes with high winds that can cause flooding and down power lines. Familiarize yourself with the location of the outdoor power lines. Water is a conductor of electricity. If you’re touching water that’s touching electricity, you can become electricity’s path to the ground and electrocute yourself.

When flood waters rise, the potential for injury is high. Know your surroundings and spot the dangers. Water can affect appliances, electronics, switches, outlets and HVAC equipment. One of the biggest concerns during and after a flood is shock and electrocution from appliances and equipment around you.

You’ll also want to know the location of the outlets inside your home. While some floods, like a flash flood, can occur when you least expect them to, you can prepare for other types of flooding hazards. If you know that there’s a possibility of flooding, move electrical equipment like TVs, stereos and computers to an upper floor. For appliances like refrigerators, you can try to raise them off the floor with pieces of lumber.

What to Do During and After a Flood

Electrocution is a significant risk during a flood. However, there’s another hazard to know about — carbon monoxide poisoning. When the power’s out, you might hear electric power generators running. They can be a lifesaver and provide comfort during a stressful time. However, if used indoors, they can be a significant contributor to high levels of indoor carbon monoxide. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pains, and confusion. In short, do not use an indoor generator indoors, ever, even if the doors and windows are open.

Severe flooding and storms can damage natural gas equipment too. Pay attention to your senses, in particular, your sight, sound and smell. They’ll work together to let you know what’s going on around you with any gas issues. Be sure not to touch anything electric, as you may discharge a spark doing something as simple as turning on a light. Do not attempt to disconnect any gas appliances on your own.

Electricity can move through the water, and it’s no secret that an electric shock can kill you. However, you can avert danger by avoiding hazardous flooded areas. When flooding takes over rooms, proceed with caution. If you think electrical outlets, appliances or cords have come in contact with water, don’t enter the room.

After the flood has receded, you’re going to want to make sure it’s safe to go in your house. Check to see if the water made contact with your electrical panel and outlets. If the water level was high enough, be sure not to touch anything. Call the utility company so that they can disconnect power. Severe winds can sometimes accompany a flood. So, if you have to go outside, check to see if there are downed power lines and stay away from them.

Once everything is all dried out, consider safety measures, such as having ground fault circuit interrupters installed. GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Hire a licensed electrician to install GFCIs on outlets throughout your home, especially in areas that can accidentally come in contact with water, like bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchen areas. And if you use electric power tools in your garage, it’s a good idea have GFCIs installed in the garage too.

You might also require the assistance of a licensed electrician to evaluate the situation in your home. The electrician may suggest repairs before restoring the electricity. Replace circuit breakers if they were under water. A professional electrician can clean, dry and test panel boards and service enclosures, as well as any affected electrical devices, appliances, heating equipment and wiring. You might have to replace any damaged equipment.

If you go back home and smell gas or you think there’s a leak, open all the windows, turn off the main gas valve and leave your home. Notify your utility company, the police or fire department, and don’t return to your house until it’s safe to enter. 

There’s still a risk if the power is out, too. How? Someone could be illegally backfeeding electricity with a generator to power their home.

Flooding is going to happen. And while floods can bring lots of destruction, you can avoid gas and electrical danger by being prepared and taking the necessary precautions mentioned. Read about what you can do if your power goes out. The more you know, the better you can prepare for life’s unexpected natural events.