Compare Just Energy Houston Rates
Just Energy EFL: Variable and Fixed Rates
How much Just Energy plans cost you depends mostly on whether the plan's rate is fixed or variable.
Fixed rate plans have fixed prices. Once you agree to a fixed rate plan, the contract keeps the price for your energy charge constant throughout the term of the contract. While fixed rate plans shield you from spiking rates during winter or summer, they can also stick you with paying a higher bill when rates fall. To make that even more frustrating, fixed rate plans usually come with an early termination fee (ETF) that must be paid if you decide to leave the contract before it expires.
Variable rate plans are really attractive to some customers. They're usually month-to-month, no contract, no cancellation fee plans. Providers often offer them with low introductory rates that are well below the wholesale price. Of course, after that low introductory rate expires at the end of the first month, these plans can make your bills very expensive.
The problem is that because the market rate for electricity changes constantly, variable rate plans can change rates month-to-month. One common complaint by customers who sign up for introductory rate variable rate plans is “the sales agent said the rates would stay low.” As any Texas resident knows, electricity rates can fluctuate wildly in the winter and summer, and sometimes make your bills painfully expensive. Many factors influence the price of electricity: market demand, fuel costs, transmission costs, sudden generator outages, and the financial needs of the provider. As such, Just Energy and any electricity customer can change the rate for their variable rate plans at any time and for any reason. Their Terms of Service spells it out clear black and white: "The price of a variable product can change, without notice to you, after your first billing cycle at the sole discretion of Just Energy."
How Variable Rate Plans Can Save You Money
Variable rate plans tend to be great conveniences for short term periods. That can be when you need a little more time or flexibility, if you're moving or if you're between plans and you want extra time to shop for the best fixed rate. In these sort of circumstances, signing onto a month-to-month variable plan with a low introductory rate can save you money. BUT introductory rates generally don't last beyond the first month. If you're only using the month-to-month plan to give you extra time to shop, then you want to switch to a fixed rate electricity plan by the end of the month. Otherwise, the rate jumps up in the following month and your next bill doubles or triples.
Variable rates can also be nicely cost-effective over the short term during the “shoulder months” in springtime and autumn if you're trying to capture a great deal as fixed rates fall to their seasonal low. The trick is that you've got to pay attention and switch to that fixed rate plan at just the right time or face paying more.
Just Energy Numbers: Navigating Energy Charges
According to Just Energy plan EFLs, charges for their flat fixed rate plans tend to run approximately from 10.4 cents per kWh to 12.3 cents per kWh across all four Texas TDU service areas. Plans currently have no monthly base charge but eco-conscious customers who want to support renewable energy can add on 100% green energy to their plans for $9.99 per month.
Like other providers' “free” electricity plans, customers need to carefully consider their usage and their habits when it comes to Just Energy's Nights Free plan. Part of the sales pitch is that even though a third estimated consumption is on night time usage, customers who shift and adapt their their highest amount of usage towards the evening can save money. While that may be somewhat true, the fact is that the plan's energy charges are as much 2 to 3 times higher than average during the week. And since these plans are usually offered as a 24 month fixed rate plan, it's certain that for several months in the year your heating and air conditioning could take a big chomp out of any potential savings.
That means it's up to the customer to be mindful and control their usage in order to reap the savings. As always, Customers need to read plan EFLs carefully and fully understand how a plan's pricing works before signing up for it.
Just Energy Featured Plans
Almost all Just Energy plans don't have monthly base charge. Fixed rate plans also include an Early Termination Fee of $175 that will be applied if the customer cancels the plan contract before it expires.
Just Energy's two flat rate fixed energy plans discussed below are not complicated by tiers, usage windows, or bill credits. They have just one rate for all usage amounts. The energy charge is the same no matter if the amount used is 500 kWh, 1,000 kWh, or 2,000 kWh. Flat rate plans are usually easier to understand as there's just one price.
Low usage customers try to avoid flat rate plans because in many plans they appear to penalize customers who use less energy. That's because the rate, base charges, and TDU charges are all added together and then divided by the usage amount to show the average price per kwh. As a result, the smaller the usage, the larger that portion of the bill that goes to paying base charges.
Just Energy Web Plan -12 This is a straight forward flat-rate contract for 12 months. Compared to other providers, Just Energy's plans have generally have competitive rates. But, because this plan is a flat rate, the lack of usage credits or tiers makes it one of the more expensive. But since this plan IS a flat rate without a monthly base charge, low usage customers don't get penalized for using too little. That makes this plan a reasonably good choice for small apartment dwellers.
Just Energy Web Plan - 24 With a slightly lower energy charge, this is the 2 year version of the Web Plan -12 . The same flat rate features also apply here; low usage customers will find the flat rate let's them pay a lower monthly bill without being penalized compared to many tiered-rate plans.
Free Nights 24 According to the plan's EFL, the average price calculations are based on a total consumption profile over a 24 month period that assumes 35% of consumption occurs during the “Night Hours” or 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM. In Centerpoint (as of Nov. 18, 2019), the plan's energy charge during week day is 18.3 cents per kWh which includes all supply and TDSP delivery charges.
Let's assume that usage is 1000 kWh/month. The total Free Power energy charge is $183.00. If we drop 35% of usage amount (350 kWh) as per the plan says, the energy charge alone would then look like this: 650 kWh x $0.183 cents per kWh = $118.95. And then there's also the $4.95 base charge which brings the total bill to about $123.90
But if we assume that the Just Energy Web 24 is 12.3 cents per kWh (which includes all supply and TDSP delivery charges) and also assume same usage of 1000 kWh, the total bill looks like this: 1000 kWh x $0.123 = $123.00 and there's no base charge.
As far as savings goes, it's pretty much a wash between the two plans. Apart from the Free Night discount, Just Energy customers are likely to find that they pay more on average than they would with the flat rate plan at the same term length. That doesn't mean that Free Nights customers will pay more. But it shows that this plan requires customers to know much more about their usage and their usage habits and will need to adapt to take advantage of the night time discount. Plus, since this is a two year plan, customers will face periods when their daytime usage climbs due to winter heating and summer cooling needs.
Why do flat rate plans show I pay more for using less?
Recurring base charges and TDU charges tend to make the lower usage price per kWh appear higher. That's because the lower your usage per kWh, the higher percentage of your bill goes to paying for base charges. For example, Just Energy charges $4.95 as a monthly base charge for its Free Nights 24 plan. Dividing that base charge amount by the usage equals how much that base charge contributes to the total cost of electricity.
- 500kWh usage: $4.95/500 kWh = $0.0099 (or .99 cents per kWh)
- 1000 kWh usage: $4.95/1000 kWh = $0.00495 (or .495 cents per kWh)
The same rule applies to TDU prices. For example, plug in Centerpoint's TDU charges:
($0.040512 per kWh + $5.47 base charge):
For 1,000 kWh
1000 kWh x $0.040512 = $40.512 + $5.47 = $45.982
$45.982/1000 kWh = $0.045982 OR 4.5982 cents per kWh
For 500 kWh
500 kWh x $0.040512 = $20.25+ $5.47 = $25.726
$25.726/500 kWh = $0.05145 OR 5.145 cents per kWh
In both cases, the price per kWh amounts for 500 kWh usage are higher than 1,000 kWh. If we plug these amounts into a random energy charge rate of 10 cents per kWh, the average price per kWh looks like this:
For 1,000 kWh: 10 cents per kWh + 0.495 (Just Energy base charge/kWh) + 4.5982 (TDU) cents per kWh = 15.0932 cents per kWh
For 500 kWh: 10 cents per kWh + 0.99 (Just Energy base charge/kWh)+ 5.145 (TDU) cents per kWh = 16.135 cents per kWh
On flat rate plans, no matter how all the base charges and TDU charges and sliced and diced, customers who use only 500 kWh of electricity will still pay lower monthly bills that those who use 1,000 kWh.
Just Energy Cancellation
Texas electricity customers can cancel their retail electricity plans at anytime. But depending on when you do it, it can cost you an awful lot of money.
In Texas, customers have the right to rescind a plan contract anytime before the end of three business days without paying a penalty. Customers who want to rescind a plan contract can either call Just Energy or complete and deliver the Notice of Cancellation before the end of the third day. Just Energy spells out the customers' right to recission process in its terms of service.
After that three day period ends, however, customers who want to cancel their plan contract face paying the Early Termination Fees (ETFs) as spelled out on the plan EFL.
ETFs are usually part of fixed rate contracts (variable rate or month-to-month plans don't have contracts) and because there is no set ceiling for early termination fees, some providers charge as much as $300 to cancel a plan's contract. Since these amounts can be very expensive, customers need to seriously consider whether it makes sense to switch or if they can afford to prematurely exit a plan. Sometimes, however, when electricity rates are falling, it does make financial sense to cancel a plan and switch with the idea that potential savings will make up for the penalty. The trick, however, is to stay informed about rates and to carefully compare your current plan with what other providers are offering.