Moving to Texas? Home Energy Club prepared this Texas Moving Guide to help you set up your electricity account in deregulated and regulated zones of the state, and to provide a comprehensive checklist of everything else you’ll need to consider.
First, let’s review your electricity set-up since that’s our specialty. Over 85% of Texans live in deregulated energy cities such as Houston and Dallas, where you have the right to choose your electricity company (also called energy providers and light companies).
In deregulated zip codes, you must choose an electricity company and an energy plan for your house or apartment prior to your move-in; in regulated cities, a regulated monopoly delivers your electricity and bills you at a rate approved by a governmental body.
In addition to a comprehensive preparation list below, we explain:
- How to shop for trusted electricity companies (also called providers or light companies)
- Select an energy plan that’s a match for your home to reduce the chance of a bill surprise
- Minimize your energy rate by comparing the best deals with special discounted rates
Finding an Electricity Provider in Texas
Six to four weeks before your move, you’ll need to set up electricity service with an energy provider in the Texas city, town or rural area where you’ll be moving. The electric company will give you an account number and ensure that your home will have electricity on the date you move in. Home Energy Club is your one-stop trusted source for electricity plans, rates and reviews for top energy providers, as discussed below.
Before we explain how to set up your electricity, you’ll first need to identify whether you’ll be moving into a deregulated or regulated area in Texas.
Regulated vs. De-regulated Electricity Zones
If you’re new to Texas, deregulated energy could be new territory for you. In regulated electricity cities in Texas, a single energy provider operates as a government-regulated monopoly and is responsible for selling and transmitting all electricity to homeowners, and customers are required to pay the rates set by the state’s public utility commission. Today, the cities of Austin, San Antonio, Beaumont and The Woodlands/Conroe, as well as some small towns, have regulated monopolies.
The remainder of Texas is de-regulated and consumers can select from dozens of providers and hundreds of electricity plans that have an assortment of rates based on the energy usage of homes. Rates are market-driven and set by the individual providers. Consumers can choose renewable energy options, fixed rate or variable rate plans, partial year or multi-year plans, and even “free electricity” plans in which energy is free of charge during designated days of the week and hours of the day.
Meters for Newly Constructed Homes
If you’re moving into a newly built home in a zip code where electricity is deregulated, you’ll need to contact the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) in the area to make certain that your home will have a meter installed and an ESI number assigned (a 17-digit address identifier) so that you can enroll in an energy plan and receive electricity. To determine which utility to contact for the area you’ll be moving, check out our pages with TDU contact information and coverage maps (the same as outage maps):
- Oncor: 888-313-4747
- AEP: 866-223-8508
- CenterPoint Energy: 800-332-7143
- Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP): 888-866-7456
- Sharyland Utilities: 800-545-4513
Setting Up Electricity in Cities with Deregulated Power
Because of the large selection of electricity companies offering hundreds of different electricity plans and rates in Texas, finding the right energy plan for your home can be overwhelming. And it’s important to select an energy provider you can trust, since even some of the largest companies offer plans with gimmicks that can cause bill surprises.
HomeEnergyClub.com is a consumer advocate and energy comparison website which offers electricity plans from top providers at discounted rates, helpful guides, reviews and other objective information about each company. There is no membership fee and the 10-year old company vets each energy plan to help you avoid gimmick plans which cause bill surprises. You can choose low-cost green energy plans, which have rates which are competitive with fossil-sourced plans on the website. To compare providers and plans, go to the home page and take the following easy steps:
- Enter your zip code: the site will display energy providers, plans and rates in the area you’re moving.
- Know your energy usage: choosing the exact right plan for your home requires that you have a reasonable estimate of the monthly kilowatt hour (kWh) usage of your home. If you’re moving into an existing home, the Smart Meter Texas website is the most efficient source of the home’s historic usage by month; otherwise, you may need to review the last 12 months of electric bills provided by your real estate agent or the homeowner. The pricing of energy plans in Texas is based on average monthly usage levels of 500 kWh (apartment or condo), 1000 kWh (smaller home) or 2000 kWh (larger home). To narrow down your choices of energy plans on Home Energy Club, select the relevant usage level for your home in the buttons above the list of energy plans.
- Read the Plan Details popup for each plan located in the rate panels: you’ll find an estimate of the plan’s monthly bill at various usage levels, early cancellation fees, bill credit information, renewable energy content, and a government-mandated disclosure of pricing details for each usage level in the plan’s Electricity Facts Label (see our EFL Guide). You’ll also find links to the Terms of Service and the Your Rights as a Customer document.
- Choosing a fixed rate or floating variable rate plan: the vast majority of homeowners have 12, 24 or 36-month fixed rate plans that lock in your rate for the term of the contract. Fixed-rate plans result in energy bills that are much more predictable (reducing the chance of an ugly bill surprise), and they are generally less expensive than variable floating-rate plans; if you move out of your house, energy providers will not charge an early cancellation fee for fixed-rate plans, thus mitigating the risk of a long-term contract. If you find a variable-rate plan at a low price, be cautious, since many providers attempt to hook consumers with a cheap frontend price and then significantly increase the rate after a few months. Also, variable-rate plans can have steep price increases in the summer months and during winter freezes that may create unexpected bill shocks. However, if you are moving into an apartment or condo for less than a year, a month-to-month variable rate plan or partial year fixed-rate plan may make sense. And if you’re moving in the summer when rates are higher, you may want to enroll in a partial-year plan that ends during the winter or early spring when long-term contracts usually have lower rates.
- Select a plan: after clicking the orange button to the enrollment pathway, you’ll fill out the form required by the energy provider whose plan you’ve selected. Your information is secured and only shared with energy providers; it is not shared with third party marketers.
- No-deposit electricity: if you have credit problems and don’t pass the automatic soft credit check, you can consider “no deposit” prepaid energy plans on the site which don’t require a credit check and provide same-day electricity service, but cost more than regular plans.
If you’re moving into an existing home in a deregulated area, you should choose an electricity company and energy plan, and set up service at least two weeks in advance of your move-in date, which can be performed online at HomeEnergyClub.com or by calling the energy company phone numbers on the website. In some cases, you may have to wait for the vacating owner of the house to cancel their power.
Be sure to review important information at the resource links below to assist you in selecting the right energy plan for your new home.
Resources for Texas Movers:
- Savvy Shopper’s Guide
- Electricity Facts Label
- Electricity Companies in Texas
- Cheapest Energy Providers you Can Trust
- Power Outage Guide
- Smart Meter Guide
- Extensive list of deregulated cities and towns
Setting Up Electricity in Cities with Regulated Power
If you’re moving to a regulated city, then you won’t have the option to shop around for different energy rates. You can ask your real estate agent or, if you’re renting, your soon-to-be landlord about the utility companies in your area. You can also simply search online for “utilities in [your new county/city].”
If you will be using the same energy provider and simply transferring your service, you can contact them two to four weeks prior to your moving day to let them know about your change of address. Have your account information and your new address ready, along with your set move-out and move-in dates. It’s important to be prepared for up-front costs, as some companies may charge a transfer or sign-up fee that can range from $20 to $50 or higher.
By preparing for your move well in advance of your moving date and carefully planning the details of your move, including shopping for home energy rates and setting up your new service, the entire process can go more smoothly. You may even find that with the additional organization and planning that you have time to enjoy the upcoming changes.
- Deregulated Cities: Austin (Austin Energy), San Antonio and Beaumont Electricity
Comprehensive Prep List for Your Move to Texas
Preparation is essential for a stress-free move.
First, you’ll want to budget for living costs in Texas, and consider the following:
- View the estimated monthly electric bill for your home at Home Energy Club by reviewing electricity plans for your zip code
- Water utilities, garbage pickup and recycle company fees
- Home and vehicle insurance
- Lawn and pool maintenance monthly fees
- Home cleaning services fees
- Home Owners Association fees, if applicable
- Property tax rates
- Good news — Texas does not have an income tax!
Here’s the items you’ll need to perform beginning two months before your move:
TWO MONTHS OUT
- Hire movers to pack your home, load your belongings, move the boxes to the new destination, and then unload the truck at your new home. This is generally the most expensive option.
- Pack your own belongings, and hire movers to load, deliver and unload your boxes.
- Pack your house and rent a moving truck. Load, deliver and unload the boxes yourself.
- Pack your house yourself, load the boxes into portable storage containers, and hire a company to pick up and deliver the containers to your new destination. This is generally the least expensive option.
- Create a moving binder with plastic sleeves for all your important moving information. It will be your helpful guide on moving day.
- Take pictures to show how your electronics are connected to help you remember where all the wires go when you move into your new house.
Purge and Toss: Review your belongings, and decide what’s worth keeping, and what you can sell, donate or throw away.
- Have a yard sale, and use the money you earn to offset moving costs.
- Toss items like worn-out clothing, damaged items and things you don’t use.
- Remember, every box you pack costs a bit of extra time and money when moving.
Pack it Up: Start packing at least six weeks before your move
- Buy or find boxes for packing. Some stores, like office supply stores or grocers, will give away used boxes, but avoid boxes that carried frozen food products or produce, as they may have water damage.
- When acquiring packing materials, purchase a bit more than you think you’ll need. This will save you from repeat trips to the store. Often, packing supply companies will refund you for excess materials that you return.
- Pack items you’ll need first in a clear plastic container, such as paper towels, trash bags, eating utensils, cookware, power strips, phone chargers, toilet paper, tools, prescriptions, etc. A clear bin allows you to see inside and is easy to find amongst all the cardboard boxes.
- Start with non-necessities like home décor and out-of-season clothing.
- Pick a color code for each room and label that room’s boxes accordingly. Label the door of each room at the new location with the corresponding sticker/tape so that movers know where to place the boxes.
- Label your boxes accurately. It’ll be a nightmare to unpack if you can’t find what you need, when you need it.
- Designate one drawer of a dresser for sheets and towels so that you won’t have to rummage through boxes for these essentials the first night in your new home.
- Pack things like your prescriptions, pet food, toothbrush and a change of clothes, in a bag for you and family member.
- And as you’re unpacking boxes in your new home, be sure to flatten out each piece of packing paper to ensure you find every little item you packed, especially if you had assistance packing boxes.
ONE MONTH OUT
- Schedule your gas, electric, internet, cable, phone, and garbage services to be stopped at your current address and set-up at your new address.
- Set up your electricity at least 30 days in advance (go to HomeEnergyClub.com if you’re moving to deregulated energy areas).
- Give your employer two-week notice if you’re leaving your job, and contact your children’s schools to let them know your kids won’t be returning.
- Contact doctors and dentists to transfer your records to the new location and to get referrals from them as needed. Schedule final medical appointments. Once you move it may take some time to find new doctors.
- Cancel or transfer services such as housecleaning, lawn care, pool maintenance, security, pool maintenance, water delivery and newspaper delivery. Verify that your service providers at your new home are set up.
- Notify your insurance and credit card companies of your change of address.
- Schedule a babysitter to watch your children on moving day if needed.
- Make sure you have hard copies of all the records you need, including both school and medical records.
- Notify your landlord that you’re moving out.
- Schedule your change of address with the post office, but do so well in advance of your move so your mail isn’t delayed.
ONE WEEK OUT
- Clean the home or apartment you’re leaving. Cleaning companies often provide “move-out” cleaning.
- Load your truck or containers. If you’re loading them yourself, start with the heaviest furniture and appliances. Keep some camping chairs with you so you’ve got somewhere to sit on your last few days, and in your first few days in the new home.
- Leave a note for the new residents with any information they may need about the house.
AFTER THE MOVE
- Confirm that the utilities at your old house are no longer in your name.
- Get a new driver’s license and automobile tag.
- Make sure your homeowners or renters insurance is updated.
- Change the locks of your new place.
- Register to vote.
Internet and phone
Cable or satellite
Attorneys and Accountants
Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacies
Financial Aid offices
Frequent traveler programs
Emergency Roadside Service
Toll Road Authorities
US Postal Service
Motor vehicle registration
Social Security Administration