By Moses Leos III
Texas ranks just below average in total energy cost for households, with the average home spending $289 on electricity, natural gas and gasoline costs, this according to a study from WalletHub.com.
According to WalletHub, energy costs take up between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income. The poorest of Americans, roughly 25 million households, pay the highest in that range.
In Texas, residents pay roughly $24 per month for natural gas, which was ranked as the ninth lowest amount paid per household in the U.S. residents also spend roughly $110 per month on fuel costs in Texas.
But Texas ranked as one of the states that paid the highest monthly electricity cost.
Texans on average spend $155 per home for electricity, which was tied for the seventh highest amount paid per home. July, according to WalletHub, tends to produce the highest monthly energy bills for consumers.
In Central Texas, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, a member-owned non-profit, supplies energy to Hays County residents.
Ingmar Sterzing, vice president of power supply and energy services for PEC, said high consumption in the state during the summer is due to the heat and increased air conditioner use.
Sterzing said 60 percent of typical home energy is spent during the summer months, from June to September.
During the wintertime, many residents have supplemental heating, such as natural gas, Sterzing said.
To help members conserve energy, Sterzing said PEC has several initiatives residents can take advantage of to increase conservation and efficiency.
One initiative to help members is through home energy audits, which are done at no cost to members, Sterzing said.
During a home energy audit, advisors use tools such as infrared cameras and different measuring techniques, which allow them to produce a report to members. That report provides recommendations on how members could save money and conserves energy, Sterzing said.
“It’s very successful and folks have saved a lot of money by following recommendations,” Sterzing said.
Other options include providing rebates for residents and commercial businesses seeking to upgrade heating ventilation and air condition (HVAC) units.
Starting in September and October, PEC will also offer a new, voluntary, time of use (TOU) rate structure for members, where they can opt to pay for energy based on the hour of the day. The rate fluxuates between summer and non-summer rates throughout the day.
Members who use the option would see higher rates during the daytime and lower rates in the evening.
“People can do their washing or use the dishwasher during the late evening on the time of use rate and can save money as well,” Sterzing said. “While they may not use less energy in total, by shifting when they use it, they can save money.”
Monitoring the thermostat during summer months is the “best way” to conserve energy, Sterzing said.
Turning up the thermostat a bit when residents are home could make a “big impact on your bill.”
Home insulation, particularly in the attic, also plays a big role on using less energy, along with consistent lighting during the year.
Sterzing said Texans are “very fortunate” to experience lower rates compared to the rest of the United States.
Natural gas, coal and solar plants in the state allow for “sufficient capacity” to meet demand as expected, Sterzing said.
He added natural gas pricing, which is low right now, is a “big determinant” on lowered energy prices.
“Our members as of this August will pay less for their power than what they have paid since 2005,” Sterzing said.