HOUSTON - Many Houstonians are complaining their energy bills are doubling and tripling right now. That may have you wondering if you should change electricity providers.
"With inflation and the cost of energy, things are tight right now," said Natalie, a Houston resident.
Many consumers are feeling the heat when they open their electricity bills.
"I would say it went up by about 25%," said her husband Josh.
"Your bill may be doubled, but now it may be tripled, quadrupled," said David Kinchen with Energy Ogre.
If you're on a fixed-rate plan, your bill is likely higher due to using more electricity to cool your home as summer heat rolled in early this year.
But if you recently changed plans, you may also be paying higher rates due to a natural gas shortage.
"It’s more noticeable this year, as people have rolled over their legacy contract rates into higher contract rates. And now they have higher consumption during periods of higher prices," said Kinchen.
Several online platforms can help you find lower electricity rates, such as Energy Ogre.
"We constantly monitor the market, and if the prices come off, we’ll inform you of the opportunity to switch out of that plan and take advantage of lower pricing," explained Kinchen.
Consumers can also compare prices themselves on PowertoChoose.com.
"They can say I got into a $0.12 contract, and now prices are $0.08. It makes sense to pay that early termination fee," said Kinchen.
To determine whether you should switch providers to save money, multiply the rates by your average kWh used per month. Then multiply by the number of months in the contract. Your savings is the difference between the two totals. If the savings is more than the early termination fee, it could be worth switching providers.
But, you may not find many savings while prices are still high.
When it comes to controlling home cooling bills, many people have become more energy-efficient, or utilize plans that keep their bills the same every month.
"The fixed plan, so that helps balance it out so it's not crazy," said Houston resident Peter Martinez.
"Our house has double-paned windows, and we just got a new AC system that’s more efficient than the old one we were using," said Josh.
"A lot of trees around, shaded," added his wife Natalie.
You can ask your energy provider for even monthly bills. You usually need to be a customer for at least a year.
Other tips Kinchen suggests to reduce energy usage, are to turn the thermostat up a few degrees, set ceiling fans to turn counterclockwise, and to close window blinds and drapes. The U.S. Department of Energy says that can cut energy bills by 33%.
The DOE also says leaving unused appliances plugged in makes up 5% to 10% of your bill. They recommend unplugging things like phone chargers, old DVRs, even coffee makers when they're not in use.