Comparing electricity costs online

July 19, 2012 3:27:18 PM PDT
If you have ever gotten a big summer time electricity bill, you know how important it is cut costs. One way to do that is by comparing electricity rates.

While there are several places that can do that for you, a new one can use information from a smart meter to help you pick the lowest priced plans.

When smart meters were put in, one of the supposed benefits was to allow power providers the ability to offer time of day pricing plans so you can save on your bill. But figuring out if those plans are a good deal or not can be confusing.

Sandra Jones is no stranger to switching power providers.

She said, "I originally started out with Reliant and then TXU offered me a better price and the was a lot of drama with them and then I switched to Green Mountain."

Like most electricity users, Jones has a smart meter at her home that can be used to help her decide if time of day pricing plans from power company is a good fit for her. But like most consumers, Jones does not know how to do that herself.

"I don't have a clue," she said.

That's where a new price comparing web site may be able to help. CenterPoint Energy is launching its My True Cost website that breaks down the cost of power plans based on what you actually use rather than average usage.

Shane McLaughin with CenterPoint Energy explained, "There are places where right now that you can see prices, but there are not places to compare. That's what we are doing that is different and that is where the meter data is the key ingredient."

McLaughin says if a customer chooses, their smart meter data can be used to help break down pricing plans and potentially save money.

"True Cost lets you get permission to bring in meter data from your utility and then we put that together from all the offers from the electric companies so you can see the true costs," McLaughlin said.

Using McLaughlin's electricity data, the lowest priced plans showed what his average bill would be from other providers and even his month by month break down.

McLaughlin said, "You can say, 'oh, that's cheaper than it was last year and cheaper than the plan I am on now.' So it makes it easy to do price comparisons."

My True Cost is free to use. Most power providers are listed on the website, but not all of them, namely Reliant Energy. You can find Reliant's plans compared with others on the state of Texas website PowerToChoose.org.

CenterPoint does not provide electricity to consumers, so it can't sign you up to anything. The website is designed to give you more information about your bill and how the costs might be lower with another provider. CenterPoint does get a percentage from the power companies when a person switches providers.


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