1. Contract TermsCheck the contract details—what is the minimum length of the contract? It’s smart planning to move between electric companies to score the best rate, but leaving before the contract expires can results in cancellation fees. Dave Lieber of The Dallas Morning News writes, “Switching is good. Act under the assumption that you should switch companies every year. The market is constantly changing.” So if you like to shop around, find a plan that will give you the degree of flexibility you prefer. Or, if you’d prefer to lock in a set rate for a longer period, there are plans for that, too.
2. Customer ServiceFew things are more frustrating for a homeowner than struggling to understand plan offerings or charges. In situations like those, responsive customer service is vital. So check a prospective company for features like customer service hours and forms of contact—phone number, email, and live chat—to make sure the company will be available you need it. Poll your friends and neighbors, too, to find out more about the company’s reputation among other customers in your area.
3. Eco-FriendlinessSome Texas electricity companies offer clean-energy plans, so if environmental consciousness is important to you, check to see what a provider offers in terms of clean energy packages. You may be pleasantly surprised by the variety of green plans you’ll find on the market.
4. Plan TypesYou’ll find a few different types of rate plans amongst Texas energy providers. Two popular options are fixed-rate plans and variable-rate plans. Fixed-rate plans lock a customer into a rate for a given term. The rate for variable-rate plans, on the other hand, changes depending on market fluctuation. Each plan type has its own benefits. Do note that if you’re considering a variable-rate plan, you should also look into the company’s historical rates to get an idea of pricing trends.
5. Usage Monitoring ToolsEveryone would love a lower electricity bill, and one of the best ways to cut your energy costs is to monitor your usage. To ensure you get that kind of energy analysis, look closely at the tools a company offers to help you review your use, including weekly usage emails and smart devices—like thermostats—with monitoring apps. Some providers may even publish efficiency tips via blog or email to help you eliminate excess usage.
6. Ease of BillingNot every company accepts every payment method, so you’ll want to pick a company that uses your preferred billing system to avoid late fees. Would you prefer a provider that deducts payments directly from your bank account? Or one that allows credit card transactions? Some providers even have physical pay stations to make payments more convenient for customers who are out and about. You’ll also want to verify that the company is transparent in its billing practices, so that you can easily understand your monthly expenses.
7. Special OffersIf you’re enticed by rewards, check out any special offers each company is running. Many providers offer incentives to win over new customers, including promotions and special plan pricing. These incentives may not last for the duration of your contract, but they could provide some decent savings in the short term.
A little bit of research can go a long way in finding the best electricity provider for your situation. The Public Utility Commission of Texas hosts a free website called PowertoChoose.org, which lets you compare electricity providers in your area. Check out a variety of companies and go with the features that suit your lifestyle. And don’t forget to look at what Amigo Energy has to offer—we may have a plan that matches your needs.