Saving Cents: Switching electric companies

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by By Sherry Williams / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 3:12 PM

HOUSTON - You can pay less for electricity by switching electric companies, but some people are intimidated by the process or they think they're already paying a good rate.

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August 6, 2009

One thing to remember, say experts, is that rates are cheaper now than they were a year ago.

There are about 30 different power companies selling electricity in the Houston area. To compare them, look at what they charge per kilowatt hour. The lowest current rate is 10.1 cents and the highest is 14.8 cents.

To switch, all you need to do is look on your current electric bill to see what you are paying per kilowatt hour. After you do that, go to the state website Powertochoose.org and click on " Compare Your Choices". It shows you what each electric company charges per kilowatt hour.

Once there, pick a company that is offering a cheaper fixed rate than what you're paying now and call them.

A fixed rate means you pay the same kilowatt per hour charge each month.

You will have to pay a deposit if your credit history with your old electric company is not good. The deposits can be as much as $400, but companies will refund the money with interest after 1 year. Some companies may also run a full credit check.

Another thing you should do before making the switch is to check to see how each electric company rates. You can on the website powertochoose.org.

Currently, the top three are Mega Energy, Reliant Energy and CPL Retail Energy. The bottom three are (worst) Freedom Power, (next to last) DPI Energy and (third from bottom) Amigo Energy, also known as Vega Resources.

Once you make the switch, do not call your old electric company to request a disconnection because your new company will handle that. You will notice absolutely no difference in how electricity gets to your home.

"CenterPoint Energy is responsible for maintaining the lines, restoring power after storms, so no matter who you buy it from, it's CenterPoint Energy that takes care of the lines," said Alicia Dixon of CenterPoint Energy.

If you break a contract with your current provider you will have to pay a penalty. Still, do the math because it may still be worth it to make the switch if the cheaper rate allows you to recoup that money after a few months.

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