Congratulations! You found a great apartment to rent. You did the walk-through with your landlord, and you’re ready to pack and unpack, get situated, turn on the TV and relax. But wait. First, you need to pick an electric service provider so you can turn on the lights, refrigerator and your TV.
The good news is that the electricity rates in Texas are at historic lows, and there are lots of ways to lock in a great deal, no matter what your lease term may be. Lock in one of those excellent residential electricity rates that are being offered by the wide variety of service providers and enjoy your new digs. Below are some tips to consider.
Compare Electricity Plans
Electricity rates will vary by how much energy you consume. Yes, you can manage your electricity use and keep those utility bill surprises to a minimum. We have some tips to help you achieve these goals, and we’ll get to that a little later. First, you’ll want to compare electricity plans. You may have a short-term lease, or maybe you’re only renting a place until you can find a better home to rent. Either way, there are some options you’ll want to consider.
So, what if you plan to end the lease before its time? For instance, you may have locked in a rate for 12 months that’s going to save you money, but there are only 11 months left on your lease. For a situation like this, you’ll want to find a service provider that doesn’t punish you with early termination fees. After all, early termination fees are anywhere from $150 – $250, and I’m sure you’d rather spend that kind of money on something fun.
You can avoid having to pay a fee by choosing the right strategy. Do you go with a variable or fixed rate? Do you want a provider offering a pro-rated early termination fee?
Current variable residential electricity rates are hovering at about 35% higher than a fixed price. Variable rate plans allow electricity rates to change from month to month based on how the market fluctuates. If you choose a variable rate, you’re going to pay a different amount every month.
If you plan to rent an apartment for a year or more, a locked-in rate, or fixed rate, can protect you from fluctuating energy prices because your electricity rates stay at one price for the entire time of the plan. With Texas electric rates so low, this might be a good plan for you.
The next option you have is one that we often recommend: a pro-rated early termination fee. With a pro-rated rate, you can choose a service provider that charges you on the remaining months of your contract. Typically, it’s around $20 per remaining month. Pro-rated is a great option for locking in those low Texas electric rates and keeping it that way. So, if you have to break the lease, you can pay about $20 to break the contract, rather than a much higher charge you might get from other service providers.
Tips to Keep Residential Electricity Rates Low
Texas electric rates are low, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find ways to conserve energy. Let’s face it: Electricity rates can change quickly. Factor in seasonal temperature changes, such as our hot and humid summers and cold winters, and you’ll see the costs go up and down.
We’ve got some tips you should know to keep your electric bill at a reasonable cost. In fact, you can make the apartment you’re renting more energy efficient and still enjoy all the things you love to do.
Examine the appliances: How old are the appliances in your rental? Are they energy efficient, green appliances? A simple way to find out is to look for an ENERGY STAR® compliant sticker. Don’t worry, they’re super easy to spot! Of course, you can always ask your landlord to upgrade and replace old, energy-hogging appliances. Also, remember that microwaves are great for reheating food — no need to turn on the stove.
Insulation: Apartment renters that use electricity to heat their home will discover that the heater accounts for about 50% of the power you use. When you’ve got a well-insulated apartment, you can keep the heat indoors. It’s also a great idea to seal up any air drafts coming through windows, doors and outlets.
Unplug unused devices: Sounds simple enough. Have you ever counted how many consumer electric devices you have? Some homes may have up to 40 electrical devices or more, and even when they aren’t turned on, they can keep affecting residential electricity rates. The thing is, many of us don’t think about unplugging our toaster and consumer devices. You can leave post-it notes around your house as a friendly reminder.
LED bulbs: This is an excellent time to replace incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. They can not only help you keep electricity rates low, but ENERGY STAR LEDs can also last up to 15x longer, so you save money that way, too!