The Tips

New Video: How to shop for electricity in Texas

Are your electric bills gobbling up your checking account? Maybe it’s time to switch power companies.

We’re here to help! Check out this new video to walk Texans through the electricity buying process.

Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full.

If nothing else, keeping them stocked with bottles of water will make a big difference.

Let the sun in.

Especially in the winter, the sun’s energy can have a noticeable affect on the temperature in your home, particularly from windows facing south and west.  Keep your blinds and drapes open during the day.

Only use one refrigerator or freezer.

You can spend up to $120 in electricity per year using a second refrigerator or freezer. If you want to use a second fridge or freezer during holidays or special occasions, turn it on one to two days before you need it.

Run cold water for food disposal.

Hot water requires more energy to warm the water. Cold water saves energy and solidifies grease to move it more easily through pipes.

Watch movies on a standard DVD or Blu-ray player.

Using a video game console, like Xbox or Playstation, uses 5x more power.

Consider a tankless water heater.

They are 35-45% more efficient, and you’ll never run out of hot water.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).

They use 75% less electricity and produce 90% less heat.

Lower the temperature on your electric water heater.

Lowering the temperature by 10 degrees will save a lot of energy, and you likely won’t notice the difference.

Reduce energy used by maintaining your pool.

Set your pool pump to run early in the morning or overnight.

Use an outdoor grill or slow cooker.

A grill is a money-saving alternative to using a standard oven and range. In the summer especially, ovens heat up the house and make your air conditioner work harder.

Use a clothesline.

A clothesline, a solar dryer, is an easy way to save on energy usage. Then, if necessary, use your dryer’s fluff cycle during off peak times to reduce stiffness.

Avoid unnecessary energy usage during peak hours, 3pm-7pm.

During the hot summer months, electricity usage is highest 3pm-7pm. Try to avoid using energy that could be put off for a couple of hours like running the dishwasher, or using your washer and dryer.

Do double-duty with your dryer.

Dry your laundry loads back-to-back to retain heat.

Adjust the brightness on your monitor.

The brighter a monitor, the more energy it uses. A monitor’s brightness can be reduced dramatically if used in a dark room, for example.

Position lights properly.

Try to illuminate the entire activity area without creating distracting glares or shadows. To do this, position your light source closer to the area you want lit. This saves energy by not over-lighting an unused area.

Turn down the LCD's backlight.

By turning down the backlight, you’ll lower power consumption, but also make the TV less bright. We find that we get the best image quality when we turn down the backlight significantly.

Use fans with your air conditioner.

Fans help reduce energy costs by circulating the cool air from your air conditioner. This allows you to raise the temperature on the thermostat and still be comfortable. Use oscillating fans for greater circulation.

Clean your filter.

If your dishwasher has a filter screen, clean it regularly. A clean appliance runs more efficiently.

Don't peek in the oven.

Resist the urge to open the oven door while baking. Every time you peek, the temperature drops 25° F and requires additional energy to bring the temperature back up.

The Myths

Screen savers save energy

A screen saver is actually a file your computer is running, which means it’s as hard at work as ever.

Turning appliances and electronics off saves energy

Leaving things off but still plugged in subjects you to vampire power—they’re still sucking electricity from the wall socket.

A computer's sleep mode is okay for overnight

Actually, sleep mode still uses a significant amount of energy. Both the computer and the monitor are drawing power to keep themselves in a suspended mode, ready to wake up the second you want to use them again.

Leaving a ceiling fan on will help cool the room

Fans cool people, not rooms. So if a ceiling fan runs in an empty room, no one will feel its benefits. A fan works by circulating the air in the space; when the breeze moves across the skin, we feel cooler even though the temperature in the room is still the same.

Washing dishes by hand uses less energy than running an electric dishwasher

Hand washing uses more hot water per load than using a dishwasher. Most modern dishwashers don’t require pre-rinsing of dishes; and according to Consumer Reports, this practice wastes up to 20 gallons of water per load without getting dishes any cleaner.

Ceiling fans don't work during winter

Reverse the switch on your fan so the blades blow upward. It forces the heat back down to thaw you out on a cold winter day.

Electric room heaters are better than heating the whole house

The truth is these are major energy suckers. It is impractical and expensive to have a space heater running for a long period of time.

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