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By Mark Trimarchi, P.E.

Founder, GeekYourRate.com

-- In case you have not seen the Fort Worth Star Telegram article where the columnist saved $550 by using GeekYourRate.com vs. PowerToChoose.org, please click here.


I'd like to take a few minutes to illustrate, using a real-life example with images, why it's extremely important to use your past 12 months of usage when you shop for electricity!  To do this topic justice requires a pretty lengthy article, so bear with me, please.


I'll compare the results you would get as a subscriber to today -August 10, 2017- for a typical apartment vs. a larger house.


First, I used GeekYourRate to simulate the monthly usage for a 700 square foot apartment in the Oncor transmission and distribution territory (Dallas/Fort Worth, Midland, Tyler, and Waco). 
NOTE: The results are similar for those living in the slightly more expensive Centerpoint transmission and distribution territory (Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi).
Entering your zip code into my website will automatically determine which of the two companies distributes your power.


Then, I did the same for a 3,000 square foot house. Of course, the monthly kWh (kilowatt-hour) usage came out much higher in all 12 months, for the house vs. the apartment.


I then shopped for electricity for the apartment and the house on GeekYourRate.com


The cheapest 12-month plan that came up for the apartment was an Infuse Energy plan (plan name removed) that averaged just 4.54 cents/kWh including all Oncor charges!  Yes, that's correct.  The average resident of Texas pays nearly three times this much! 

The cheapest 12-month plan that came up for the 3,000 square foot house was a Discount Power plan (plan name removed) that averaged 6.24 cents/kWh including all Oncor charges.


But here's the important part, folks:

The exact same Infuse Energy plan that was 4.54 cents/kWh for the apartment, would be 9.82 cents/kWh for the house!  That's a rate more than twice as high for the house as for the apartment, for the same electric provider and plan!  Also, it shows up on GeekYourRate as the 105th cheapest plan for the house, while it's the 1st cheapest for the apartment. The annual cost with this plan for a house would be $732 more than the very cheapest plan for the house.


Infuse Plan image

Likewise, the exact same Discount Power plan that was 6.24 cents/kWh for the house, would be 11.62 cents/kWh for the apartment.  That's a rate nearly twice as high for an apartment as the same plan would cost for the house.  Also, it shows up on GeekYourRate as the 111th cheapest plan for the apartment, with an estimated annual cost of $637 more than the 1st cheapest plan for the apartment.


Discount Power Plan image


The lesson here, is this:

The rate (cost/kWh) you end up paying per month under ANY electric plan is highly dependent on that month's usage!  Trying to pick the lowest cost plan for your home is nearly impossible using PowerToChoose.org, because the providers "game" the pricing structures to their advantage.  PowerToChoose is not capable of dealing with these rate structures, because it only displays your cost at one of three EXACT usage levels: 500 kWh, 1000 kWh, and 2000 kWh.  Nobody's home uses power every month at exactly those levels.


Powertochoose.org performs ZERO calculations, and therefore cannot sort by lowest cost to you.   You might say that Powertochoose lets you sort plans by a "range" of either 500, 1000, or 2000 kWh.  My house uses power in all three of those ranges, so that doesn't help.  It's likely that yours does also, in at least two of them.


GeekYourRate.com performs over 5,000 calculations every time you view the results for your home.  Calculations are done for every month of your usage, and for every one of the 350+ electric plans available to you.  Calculations are also done to find out what happens with a given plan if you go from, for example, 1,000 kWh to 1,001 kWh or more. This is where the credits or extra charges often come into play.


To do these calculations requires that 350+ unique formulas, representing each of the 350+ electric plans, be developed, stored, and most importantly -- updated daily, in GeekYourRate's database.  The daily updates are time consuming and are the reason we must charge for this service.   But your cost to find the lowest-priced plan for your home is only $9.95, total.  A single $9.95 charge to access the results, not a monthly charge like some other shopping sites.  That's just $9.95 to save you at least $100 per year, or even $1,000 - as some larger-use customers have saved.


Any electricity shopping service or website that does not charge a fee to use it, is either:


a) Performing ZERO calculations;


b) Getting "referral fees" from the providers you sign up with, and almost without exception, limiting your available plans to those that make them money, or;  


c) Funded by a non-profit entity such as the State of Texas (like powertochoose.org) and unable to find you the true lowest-cost plan for your usage.  


So, Embrace Your Inner Geek and save big bucks on your electricity!

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.

- Mark  


By Mark Trimarchi, P.E.

Founder, GeekYourRate.com


GeekYourRate.com is an electricity shopping website for use by those who live in the “deregulated” electric areas of Texas, to compare the hundreds of electric plans offered by more than 50 Retail Electric Providers.  GeekYourRate currently only serves the “Oncor” and "Centerpoint" transmission and distribution company territories.  Oncor territory includes Dallas/Fort Worth, Midland, Tyler, and Waco. The "Centerpoint" transmission and distribution territory includes Houston and the surrounding areas, down to Galveston.

GeekYourRate is the premier site in Texas for finding the lowest annual-cost plans corresponding to the user’s actual or estimated monthly consumption.  This is accomplished using unique features such as local weather-based simulation algorithms and cost vs. consumption graphs.

Powertochoose.org is an electric plan comparison website that is run by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, located in Austin.  The intent of the site is to help Texans who live in the “deregulated” electric areas of Texas, view their available electric plans and select an electric provider.

There are over 50 companies that offer electricity, each with several plans, totaling nearly 2,000 plans in all of deregulated Texas.  Residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Midland, Tyler, and Waco areas have over 350 choices of electric plans, and those residing in the Houston area have over 350 choices of plans, as well.  Users of both GeekYourRate.com, and Powertochoose.org have exactly the same choices of 350+ electric plans from more than 50 electric providers.

That's where the similarity ends!  The two websites sort the available electric plans in completely different ways.

GeekYourRate.com runs over 5000 calculations before displaying your results, and sorts by estimated annual cost ($/year) for each plan (or for the contract length of any plan shorter than 12 months, rather than annual cost). This gives you an “apples to apples” comparison of the hundreds of electric plans, thereby leveling the playing field between plans, so to speak. 

Powertochoose.org runs ZERO calculations.  It only shows your cost in cents per kWh at three monthly usage levels; 500 kWh, 1000 kWh, and 2000 kWh.  It doesn't show your cost for usage outside of these three exact levels.  Since no home uses electricity at any one of those ranges every month, it is not realistic to sort in this manner. It is impossible to know which plan will be the cheapest for you when you view them on powertochoose.org, unless you spend hours running your own calculations. GeekYourRate does them for you!

GeekYourRate allows the user to choose one of three ways to get their 12 estimated monthly usage figures into the system:
  • Enter your historical usage for the past 12 months (if known)
  • Answer just four questions and let GeekYourRate estimate your monthly usage using proprietary simulation programs and historical weather-based algorithms corresponding to your location.  This is very helpful if you are moving to a new house or apartment and don't have access to historical usage.
  • Let GeekYourRate use default answers to the four questions based on average values, along with historical weather-based algorithms based on your location

To sum it up, this is customized electricity shopping like no other site offers!  The cheapest plan for you will likely be different from the cheapest plan for your neighbor and will depend on whether you live in an apartment, a small house, a big house, a townhouse, etc.  So, take a free Test Drive today and see what GeekYourRate is all about!

My next Blog will discuss why it's so important to shop for electric plans using either your past 12 months of usage or 12 months of estimated usage.

- Mark  


By Mark Trimarchi, P.E.

Founder, GeekYourRate.com


According to a study by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, electricity prices for residents of the deregulated areas of Texas have declined over the past ten years.  This is not surprising to me, considering that I have followed residential electricity prices for at least ten years, and on a daily basis for the past two years.

Texas electricity prices are closely tied to natural gas pricing, as natural gas is the single biggest source for generating electricity in Texas.  Natural gas prices have been relatively low, at least since 2009.

However, the study was referring to average residential electricity rates offered by the 50+ electric providers you have to choose from in Texas.  You don't have to pay average prices!

If you use GeekYourRate.com for your customized electricity shopping (by entering your past 12 months of usage), you will see the very lowest cost plans of the 350+ available to you.  The plans will be sorted based on monthly cost calculations using your own past usage.  In other words, you will be able to lock in the VERY lowest cost electricity for 12 months or whatever contract length you choose.

Plans with contract lengths of up to five years are available, but you will typically pay more for such a long contract.  The companies have to "hedge their bets" that prices they pay for your electricity won't rise during any long contract period, leaving them selling it to you at a potential loss.

There is no other tool or website in existence to see over 350 electric plans sorted in the manner that GeekYourRate does (sorted by relative annual cost).  This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison of all plans. 

Except for PowerToChoose.org, which has been discussed at length in my other blogs, every other website in existence for Texas electricity shopping limits the number of plans you have to choose from to much fewer than 350 plans, and typically doesn't sort by annual cost.  Some only show as few as 20 or 30 plans.  These are the plans for which they get paid if you sign up for one of them.  That's biased electricity shopping, in my book.

Thank you for reading!  I plan in the coming days and weeks to share some energy-saving tips from my 25+ years as an engineer in the energy conservation field.

-Mark  


VIDEO: How does it work?