By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Don’t let the cloudy sky fool you: this Texas summer is far from finished. And with the last heatwave’s utility bills hitting now, electricity costs aren’t a temporary concern. So what to do?

Doug Archer of Dallas, says searching for lower utility rates online could pay off: IF you’re willing to put in the time, and don’t get attached.

“Every three months,” says Archer, referring to how often he switched plans at one point. “It took about 10 minutes on the phone and the savings were probably $250 dollars a month. That was worth it to me.”

Archer is something of a self-taught expert on ‘PowerToChoose.org’, the state website designed to help consumers compare and shop for lower electricity rates. But, some say there’s a problem: “I think it’s hard to do. I’ve had to build a spread sheet, they put a bunch of words out there that are tough to understand.”

Did I mention that Archer is a C.P.A. and business owner?! Overall, he’s a fan of competition and allowing consumers options. But, he also agrees that the website needs better ‘apples to apples’ comparisons. And with all things, read carefully, and beware.

“I was down sub .05 kwh. I thought it sounded mighty good to be true, so I recorded the call. They called me next month and said ‘that’s not what I said’. I said, ‘sure you did. I recorded the call. Which one do you want to hear?’ They say, ‘no, we’ll honor it’. So, they do play those games, and you do have to watch it.”

Interestingly, Archer says he also avoids companies that appear first in the website’s search engine– keep scrolling, he says, you might find a better deal. He also suggests being wary of companies whose rates per kwh vary widely based on the usage. If you sign a contract, set a calendar reminder weeks in advance so you’ll have time to shop for another plan. And finally, when you do your research, don’t be afraid to switch.

“There are a lot of businesses that are out there that are trying to do the right thing,” says Archer.

One more thing: work to conserve energy, it’s a sure way to hold on to more cash.

 

Comments (2)
  1. Fred Anders says:

    Shopping is so tricky that the shot of “PowerToChoose” (at 0:43) isn’t PowerToChoose.org at all, but a copycat site (with generally more expensive plans) that pays for the top listing when people search for the real PowerToChoose.

    Also, it’s wise to be wary of _any_ price claims at 500-, 1000-, or 2000 kwh/month, whether they’re similar or not. Such claims apply only at those exact usages, and retailers can charge anything they want at any other usage. To avoid teaser rates, you MUST read each plan’s facts label and do the math for your usages, or use a different site that does that legwork for you.

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