Energy Saving Resources
Texas ROSE represents residential and low-income consumers to promote energy efficiency and fair utility programs.
There are many types of programs that qualify as energy efficiency programs at utilities in Texas. The most effective programs are those that make physical improvements or equipment and appliance changes that lower your electricity use all the time. A simple example is a light bulb.
Replacing a 75 watt light bulb with an 19 watt compact fluorescent saves $58.60 and avoids 890 pounds of CO2 and SO2 emissions over 10,000 operating hours.
Changes like insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, solar screens, and high efficiency air conditioners, water heaters and appliances are permanent changes that lower your electric bill. Studies verify that energy efficiency measures operate on peak and off peak, making a lasting contribution to the system. Energy efficiency measures produce long term bill reductions for the customer. Energy efficiency measures lower emissions and decrease the need for generation.
Energy efficiency measures reduce a customer’s electricity all the time. When a highly efficient appliance replaces one that is inefficient, the new appliance uses less power every time it operates. This saves the consumer money and helps the environment by eliminating waste.
Load management (timers, programmable thermostats, load interruption, thermal storage) affects the timing of energy use. Load management rarely reduces the customer’s energy use. Load management shifts energy use to another time and can save money when rates are structured to do so.
There is a lot of attention being paid to demand response, especially because of the installation of smart meters in most parts of Texas. The idea behind demand response is to change the price. Today the rates we are charged are an average price that smoothes out the lows and highs. With advanced meters that can track the amount of electricity you use in 15-minute intervals, many companies are looking to price the electricity you use based on the market price instead of an average price. As an organization Texas ROSE is concerned about residential customer participation in demand response programs. The pricing is structured to charge the highest prices when you need electricity the most. Customers who live in small houses and apartments who could be endangered by cutting back on air conditioning during peak hours should not consider a demand response program. Customers who use low amounts of energy may see little benefit and should investigate thoroughly before making a decision to change to a demand response rate.
Energy Efficiency is Always a Good Idea
With electricity costs on the rise, everyone can reduce their utility costs through energy efficiency. High electricity usage in summer is becoming increasingly expensive. Every kWh you save through energy efficiency is worth more today than ever before.
The amount of your electric bill is affected by many factors, including:
- the weather,
- whether you use natural gas or propane for heating, water heating and cooking,
- the energy efficiency of the building you live in, and
- the age, efficiency and amount of electric equipment you use.
The best way to lower your electricity bills is to make your home more energy efficient. There are a number of programs sponsored by regulated utilities to provide information and encourage consumers to buy the most energy-efficient products available.
- lowers utility bills,
- reduces dependence on fossil fuels,
- needs fewer new generating facilities, and
- reduces harmful air emissions.
It creates jobs and stimulates local investment, typically creating two to four times more jobs than a comparable investment in construction of a power plant. These jobs are created locally where people are using the energy.
Residential Energy Efficiency Programs
Utilities must offer energy efficiency programs to customers that achieve an energy savings goal. Every utility is required to offer residential programs and programs for households with income up to 200% of the federal poverty guideline. For additional information about programs that may be available in your area, go to www.texasefficiency.com or call your electric company.
Required Consumer Disclosure
As a protection to all customers who participate in energy efficiency programs, the PUC set rules for contractor behavior and a standard customer disclosure. The disclosure is to help you work effectively with your energy efficiency contractor by explaining what you should expect and your rights in the event something goes wrong.
Energy Efficiency Service Contract Basics
Energy efficiency service providers are not part of, nor endorsed by, your utility or the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Use your judgment when hiring an energy efficiency services provider. Ask for references and check with the Better Business Bureau if you have doubts about doing business with a particular contractor. Before you sign, be sure you have all of the following information:
- Information on work activities. A written description of the work to be completed. Be sure the description includes brand names, series, model numbers, efficiency ratings, and other information needed to properly identify all materials and equipment to be installed, start and completion dates, and the terms and conditions that protect you in the event of non-performance by what you can do if the energy efficiency service provider fails to complete the work as described.
- A written and oral explanation of any financial arrangement between you and the energy efficiency service provider. This should include: the amount of each payment, the number of payments, the total amount of the customer’s payments over the term of the agreement, the total expected interest charged, all possible penalties for non-payment, and whether the customer’s installment sales agreement may be sold.
- A notice of your cancellation rights and procedures, including a form you can sign and return to cancel the transaction.
- An all bills paid affidavit given to you by the energy efficiency service provider guaranteeing that no liens will be placed on your property by the claims of subcontractors.
- A statement that the energy efficiency service provider is receiving an incentive paid for through the rates of your utility for the electricity saved by your energy efficiency improvements.
- Provisions prohibiting the waiver of consumer protection statutes, performance warranties, and false claims of energy savings and reductions in energy costs.
Know your rights:
- You have 72 hours (3 days) to cancel any contract you sign with an energy efficiency service provider in your home. If you are contracting for energy efficiency services due to a home solicitation, you have the right to cancel the contract within 72 hours. To cancel the contract, follow the procedures stated in your contract for notifying the energy efficiency service company that you do not wish to receive their service and are canceling the contract.
- No energy efficiency service provider, manufacturer, or other business involved in providing your energy efficiency improvements may ask or require you to give up your rights under consumer protection statutes, waive performance warranties, or make false claims of energy savings and reductions in energy costs.
To make a complaint about your contractor’s work, you may call the Office of Customer Protection of the Public Utility Commission of Texas at 1-888-782-8477 or email email@example.com.
Home Energy Savings Checklist
- Use energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers.
- Survey your standard (incandescent) light bulbs for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescents. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs. The best targets are 60-100 watt bulbs used several hours a day.
- Check the age and condition of your major appliances, especially the refrigerator. It may be cost effective to replace old appliances with a more energy-efficient model now instead of waiting until it breaks down.
- Clean or replace furnace, air-conditioner, and heat-pump filters.
- Properly maintain your heating and cooling systems and upgrade the equipment when needed.
- When it’s time to replace your heating or cooling system (or any appliance), be sure to look for the Energy Star label and buy the highest efficiency unit you can afford.
- Review your utility bills. Separate electricity and fuel bills. Target the biggest bill for energy conservation remedies.
- Check your attic or crawlspace and inspect for insulation. Is there any? How much?
- Insulate ducts wherever they run through unheated areas.
- Seal up the largest air leaks in your house—the ones that whistle on windy days, or feel drafty. The worst culprits are usually not windows and doors, but utility cut throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Better yet, hire an energy auditor with a blower door to point out where the worst cracks are. All the little, invisible cracks and holes may add up to as much as an open window or door, without you ever knowing it!
- Install a clock thermostat to set your thermostat back automatically at night.
- Schedule an energy audit for more expert advice on your home as a whole.
- Insulate. If your walls aren’t insulated, have an insulation contractor blow cellulose into the walls. Bring your attic insulation level up to snuff.
- Upgrade leaky windows. It may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or to boost their efficiency with caulking, weather stripping and storm windows.
- Reduce your air conditioning costs by planting shade trees and shrubs around your house, especially on the west side.
- Ask your electric company or the Texas State Energy Office for information about energy efficiency.
Know that you are making a difference!
The Department of Energy provides information about how energy is used in your home and how you can save energy and money.