How Much Energy Are You Wasting?

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A blog post at Clean Technica says the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted research which found 61% of all energy that moves through the American economy gets wasted.  And, it also continues to argue that some experts believe the true energy efficiency of our economy is around 14%.  If all that’s not enough to get your attention, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found waste was at an all-time high in 2012.

Pretty amazing in an era when we place more attention than ever on being green and environmentally-friendly, isn’t it?

Whatever the true energy efficiency numbers are, it definitely shows there’s room for improvement.  The two biggest energy wasters, according to the post, are the generation of electricity at power plants, and how you use your vehicle.  Other common energy wasters were household use of heating, cooling, and lighting.

What You Can Do

While you can’t do much about the efficiency of power plants in generating electricity, much of the United States’ energy waste is related to consumer use.  Here are a few big things you can do to save energy:

  1. Vehicles – You don’t have to be an expert mechanic to modify your car so it’s more fuel efficient.  Most of the problems with fuel efficiency are related to personal habits.  First, drive the speed limit.  Going 10 mph slower saves 2-4 miles per gallon over a short trip.  Don’t drive aggressively – hitting the throttle reduces fuel efficiency.  Keep your windows up at all times – drag from the air decreases your fuel economy by up to 10%.  Keep your tires properly inflated.  When you have your oil changed, replace your dirty air filter with a clean one to reduce fuel costs by up to 10%.
  2. Lighting – Ditch the incandescent light bulbs in your home.  Get compact fluorescents at minimum.  They give you the most immediate financial savings.  If you can, consider LED lights – they’ll save the most energy and money over the long-term.  If you have fluorescent lights with magnetic ballasts, use ones with electric ballasts and increase your efficiency by 30%.  And, keep the lights off and use natural sunlight whenever possible.  If you have a large home with many lights, put some on automatic controls that turn the lights off and on according to a schedule.
  3. Cooling – Have a professional inspect your AC system.  Filters should be changed or cleaned monthly during the cooling season, and about every 2-3 months during the offseason.  Prune away plants and weeds from the exterior, but do not use a weed whip, as that can shoot more efficiency-reducing debris inside your AC unit.  If it’s not already in the shade, have your AC system either placed in the shade, or build shade around it.

Those are the big things, and while they do seem obvious, remember how inefficient our economy is as a whole and think of what you could do to increase your own efficiency. One way to help increase your energy efficiency is by monitoring your electricity usage with a company like Payless Power, http://paylesspower.com. Offering cheap energy plans to suit both personal and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people not only with some of the best cheap electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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22 Cool Ways to Save Energy

There are many ways to save energy – many more than you can count even.  However, you tend to hear the same ones over and over again.

Some of these tips will be familiar, but many you haven’t heard of either.  Check out this lengthy list of ways to conserve energy:

  1. Use kitchen, bath, and all ventilating fans as little as possible.  They blow away heat and AC.
  2. Insulate the ceiling or your attic to an R-value of 49.  The higher the number, the better.
  3. Insulate your ductwork in unheated and uncooled areas of your home.
  4. Use weather stripping on your attic door to prevent air leaks.
  5. Caulk and weather strip your windows and doors.
  6. Install triple-track glass and screen storm windows.
  7. Install a water heater with an EF rating of .91 or above for the best efficiency.
  8. Use cold water, not hot water, in your garbage disposal.
  9. Cover pans when boiling water – it helps them boil faster.
  10. Clean your oven burners and reflectors regularly so they heat faster.
  11. Turn off oven burners a few minutes before you finish cooking.  Your food will still cook, and you’ll save energy.
  12. Turn off the oven itself 7 minutes before you finish cooking.  The trapped heat will finish the cooking.
  13. Use your microwave to cook small meals – it uses less energy than an oven.
  14. Only preheat your oven when you absolutely need to.
  15. Don’t broil food unless you have to – it uses a ton of energy.
  16. Thaw your frozen foods before you cook them.  Use the warm air temperature instead of your electric energy.
  17. You save the most electricity when buying your dishwasher.  Get an energy-efficient model the either uses air power or overnight dry settings.  You can reduce the energy your dishwasher uses by 10% or more.
  18. Keep the fridge at a temperate of around 38-40 degrees.  The freezer should be around 5 degrees.  If you have a separate freezer, keep the temp around 0.  Only open the door when you need it, and close it as soon as you can.
  19. Keep sunlight off your refrigerator and freezer so they don’t get warmed up.
  20. When washing clothes, use warm or cold water, and always rinse in cold.
  21. Showers are more efficient on your water usage than baths, but only if you limit your time to around 10 minutes.
  22. Make sure your shower has a water-flow controller installed at the showerhead.

If you apply these 22 tips to your life, your home will be the model of energy efficiency!

If you’re interested in an easy way to save money, visit http://paylesspower.com. Offering cheap energy plans to suit both personal and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people not only with some of the best cheap electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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How to Help Your Teen Reduce Their Energy Use

When you think of Spring, you start to think of graduation.  And graduation reminds you of your teenagers.  Hey, at least they made it this far in life without hurting themselves!

Because much of the energy efficiency issues our nation faces are related to consumer use, it’s wise to address the issue while your teens are just getting ready to move out.  Then, when they’re in college, hopefully they know more about saving money and conserving energy so they don’t have to be calling home as much asking for more.

Here are the biggest ways you can help your teen save energy:

  1. Unplug everything when you’re done.  Laptops, smartphones, and MP3 players should be unplugged when your teen is done using them.  The same goes for all electronic appliances (TVs, dishwashers, microwaves…) too.  They can consume energy even when turned off and not operating.  This also increases the life of appliances, helping them save even more money.
  2. Turn it off instead of using sleep mode.  The sleep mode feature of any electronic device simply reduces energy use, rather than eliminating it entirely.  Teach your teen to turn things off totally when they’re done so they don’t waste power and require charging again later.
  3. Buy used clothing.  This seems like a strange one, doesn’t it?  But, keep in mind it takes energy to produce new clothing.  Your teen won’t notice an immediate benefit, but they will help the environment.  Plus, they get used to the idea they won’t have a ton of money to buy designer clothing during college.
  4. Turn off the faucet and take short showers.  Leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth uses two gallons of water per minute.  Showers are more efficient than baths, but still consume a fair amount of water.
  5. Carpool with friends whenever possible.  They have to do it now that they don’t have their own vehicle.  When they get on campus, they may not even be able to have one.  And when they get that first job, they may carpool with other employees to work.  They might as well get into the habit now and help reduce the gas our country consumes.
  6. Buy reusable grocery bags.  They may eat on campus or go to a grocery store.  If they do go to a grocery store, they should use reusable bags, and some stores offer discounts for doing so.  Remind them to think of the energy saved because not as many plastic bags will be produced.  They won’t realize a benefit for themselves, but it will help them to care for the world at large.

If you show your teens these tips, they’ll be set up to help you save money now and to save themselves money and energy in the future.

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How to Save Energy Costs While on Spring Break

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Ahhh, the college years.  You’re slowly transitioning from the careless years of high school to that of responsibility.

Every cent counts when you’re in college – that’s money you can use to go out and party!

And if you’re still in the dorms, you might as well prepare yourself for the time you move out and have to pay your own energy costs.

If you’re sharing a house or an apartment with some friends, you’re probably not living in the most up-scale, energy efficient dwelling.  So, you could save yourself and your friends a fair amount of money by paying attention to energy efficiency.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your energy bills:

  • Get Energy Star certified products.  When you purchase a new mini-fridge, television, computer, or anything else electronic, make sure it has the Energy Star label.  An Energy-Star television, for example, uses around 25% less energy than one without the label.
  • Be wary of vampire energy drain.  If you plug your gadgets directly into the wall, they can consume energy even if they’re turned off.  That happens also even if they’re not plugged into the charger.  Instead, plug them into a power strip.  Not only do you save directly on energy, but you increase the life of your devices as well.
  • Buy CLF or LED lights.  Hopefully you’re not too wild in your living space, and these don’t get broken!  If you’re not worried about that, CFL light bulbs present a good, cost-effective alternative to incandescents.  LEDs are even better, but it takes more time for their savings to pay off because they typically cost more to purchase.
  • Turn off stuff you don’t use.  If you see a screensaver running, you should realize it’s time to take action.  The same goes for any device sitting in “sleep mode.”  These consume less power than leaving your devices on, but they still consume a significant amount of power if they’re never turned off.
  • Turn off, or reduce the heat when you leave for the day.  In Spring, you still may need the heat occasionally.  Even in very cold temperatures, you can turn the heat off for the day, and it will be reasonably warm when you get home.  Then, while you make supper, you can turn the heat on and let your place heat up.  Turn it down again at night, and lay in an extra blanket or put on another layer of clothing to stay warm and reduce costs.

When you add up all of these energy savings, especially if you live in an older building, you can save up to a few hundred bucks throughout the year.

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How to Reduce March Madness Energy Costs

Have you filled out your brackets yet?

So, one of the year’s greatest sporting events – the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is here.

If you’re a total fanatic, you’ll spend hours in front of the TV.

And speaking of that television, which can be a real energy hog, what can you do to make sure it uses the least amount of energy possible, while you still get to watch the tournament?

A few ideas:

  1. Turn it off when you’re not watching.  Okay, let’s get the easy one out of the way.  Just turn it off when you’re not watching the tournament.  Switch it to standby if you have a hard time remembering this.
  2. Keep tabs on the brightness.  Usually, the default factory setting is brighter than necessary.  Set it to a more appropriate level if that doesn’t interfere with your viewing experience.  If your TV has an ambient light sensor, make sure that feature is turned on.
  3. Use the radio screen blanking feature.  If you like to listen to the radio through your television when the tournament’s not on, make sure the screen stays blank the entire time by turning on this feature.
  4. Do you really need a huge TV?  Did you know a 32-inch LCD screen uses half the power of a 42-inch plasma?  If you’re not the type who needs a massive television, keep this in mind when you purchase a new one.
  5. Switch to energy-saving mode.  What this does is dim the backlight, which cuts the energy used by up to 1/3.  You’ll have to change this setting again at night, but hey, when it comes to efficiency, why not go to all lengths?
  6. Buy a new television.  Okay, so this could be the perfect time to justify the purchase of a new television to your spouse.  For example, a LED TV is 20-25% more efficient than the typical LCD or plasma.  One Clean Technica article claims a 400% difference in energy usage between the most and least efficient 37 inch TVs!  Even if you have a newer one, it may not be energy efficient at all…
  7. Look for OLED technology.  It’s still somewhat new to the market, so you might have a hard time finding an OLED TV.  But, they do exist, and they’re even more efficient than LED televisions.

Bet you didn’t know all of those ins and outs of purchasing energy-efficient televisions…

And hope you win your office bracket pool this year!

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How to Stay Energy Efficient While on Vacation

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Even though we get nice warm weather here in Texas (maybe not the case now, but it will be soon), Spring can be a good time to take a vacation with your family.

If you want to keep your home energy efficient while on vacation, what can you do?  A few things:

1)     Turn off the AC.  You should have a programmable thermostat, so just set it for the right temperature once you get home.  If you have pets, set the AC for a little higher temperature than normal – around 72 degrees or so.  Every degree you raise the temperature saves you about 2-3% on your energy bill.

2)     Turn off the water heater.  You probably don’t think about this one too often.  But, it uses quite a bit of energy, and there’s no need to keep it on while you’re away from home.  Turn off the circuit breaker for the water heater.  If it’s gas, turn off the gas valve.

When you get back home, allow your hot water tap to run before you turn the gas on once again.  Do this to make sure your tank has water in it.  If it doesn’t, it can get damaged.

3)     Unplug all chargers and electric appliances.  Even if you turn them off but leave them plugged in, they still consume some energy.  They’re called “energy vampires” when they do this.  Plus, if there’s a thunderstorm, you’re guaranteed none of your appliances will be damaged.

4)     Use automatic lights if you can.  If you live in an area where there’s a good chance someone could break into your home while you’re gone, you’ll probably think to leave a light or two on to scare away intruders.  Do it if you have to, but better yet, have timers installed so they turn the lights on automatically.

5)     Refrigerator.  It’s safe to set your refrigerator, one of the biggest consumers of energy, to around 42 degrees or so.  If you’re a hardcore energy saver, or if you’re going to be gone for a long time, unload all the food, place a box of baking soda in the freezer to attract moisture and prevent mold growth, and unplug the fridge.

6)     Pool/spa.  Lower the temperature setting and reduce the filter run times while you’re gone.

Those tips will help you save on energy costs, and help you reduce the financial burden of your vacation, hopefully making it a little more enjoyable for you and everyone else.

For more money-saving tips, visit http://paylesspower.com. Offering cheap energy plans to suit both personal and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people not only with some of the best cheap electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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When do Solar Panels Pay for Themselves?

Now that the costs of manufacturing solar panels and installing them have come down significantly, they’re at the point where they are affordable for many homeowners.

But how much money do they help you save, and when do these savings start to actually outweigh the costs of installation?

There’s no precise calculations, and it depends largely on how much you pay to have the installation performed.  However, here are some ideas that could help demystify the issue:

  1. For Texas residents, you can save about $20,960 on average, over the course of 20 years.  The number was computed based on 2011 research, and solar power’s cost has dropped much since then, so the real figure could be higher.  You can view data for Texas and every other state in the nation in an infographic at CostofSolar.com
  2. Don’t forget about federal and state tax incentives.  There is a residential tax credit of 30% that will remain in effect until December 31 of 2016.  For credits available to Texas residents, visit this website.
  3. How much does installation cost?  Do know that whatever you do, installation is going to be expensive.  Contractors will give you different numbers, but the average cost is around $5 per watt, or nearly $15,000 for the typical 3-kilowatt system.
  4. Remember electricity costs are generally rising.  To account for your total savings, you have to also factor in the cost of electricity.  The Edison Electricity Institute conducted a study which found they rose 2.5% per year from 2000 – 2006, while inflation grew at a rate of 1.99% per year over the same time.
  5. Know how much electricity solar produces.  Of course this info disagrees with point number one, but it’s here just for your information.  The typical 3-kilowatt system creates 450 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month.  In a state with an average amount of sunshine, that equates to about half of the monthly electrical usage.  If that bill is an average amount of around $100, it would save you about $50 per month.  Figuring a new cost of $50 per month, that’s $600 saved per year.

Give that Info, What Should You Do? 

If you’re saving $600 per year, you won’t break even on the cost of your solar panels (assuming a $15,000 cost) until you’ve owned them for…25 years!  But, with that 30% discount in place, that takes the installation cost down to $10,500.  That lowers the payback time down to 17.5 years.

The bottom line:  the 30% federal tax incentive is in place until December 31st of 2016, and installation costs will come down.  Get your solar panels installed before then, if they fit in your budget, and make sure you pay special attention to see if the federal government extends that deadline.

For may ways to save money, switch to Payless Power for pre-paid electricity! Offering low-cost energy plans to suit both residential and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people with some of the best electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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7 Energy-Efficient Building Materials Every Home Needs

If you have these materials installed at your home, you can usually recover the costs within several years.  Yes, they do cost a little up front, usually a 20-30% increase over the cost of standard materials.

But if they can help you save over the long haul, isn’t that worth a little more right now?  Check out some of the energy-efficient building materials many homeowners choose to use today:

  1. Wooden beams for new homes are a thing of the past…The Steel Recycling Institute says custom steel beams use the material found in 6 scrapped cars, whereas wooden beams require 40-50 trees to build.  The energy is really saved when the steel is recycled…it costs 75% less energy to recycle steel versus producing it from scratch.  It also saves landfill space.  And, steel is holds up better than wood in high winds and earthquakes.
  2. Plant-Based Polyurethane Foam – Bamboo, hemp, and kelp are used to create this foam, which can be used in both insulation and furniture.  The R-value, a measure of how well it insulates, is higher than fiberglass or polystyrene.
  3. Cool, Light-Colored Roofing – You know how white T-shirts reflect more sunlight and don’t get nearly as hot as black ones?  The same idea applies to your home’s roofing.  Some companies are offering roofing materials lighter in color, although some innovations are making darker materials that reflect heat back well.
  4. Structured Insulated Panels – SIPs have a layer of foam insulation place between pieces of plywood.  Some people don’t like them because of their looks, but it is possible to install siding, brick, or stone onto the panels.  They’re quite astonishing in their energy-saving ability – which can be up to 50% over homes built with traditional materials.
  5. Composite Lumber – This lumber, used in place of its treated counterpart, is a 50-50 mix of wood and waste plastics.  It’s also more durable and less toxic than treated lumber.  It’s more expensive, but because it uses recycled plastic bags and other plastics, it saves a ton of energy.
  6. Low Emissivity Windows – Although they cost 10-15% more than clear glass windows, they reduce heat flow through their glass by 50%, reducing your heating costs by 10-20%.
  7. The Vacuum Insulation Panel – This provides up to seven times the insulation protection over other available products.  They’re not ready for residential use yet because they’re very difficult to install, but the National Association of Home Builders is working with Dow Chemical to make these panels available for insulating attics.

So there you have it – seven energy-efficient building materials.  One is going to be available in the future, but most can help right now.

Which of these did you find most interesting?

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Relax! Easy Ways to Save Energy

Why do now what you can put off until later?  Well, at some point you’re going to have to do it, so if you’re the slacking type, doing just enough to get by, and even though, only when absolutely necessary…this guide is for you.

You don’t have to make dramatic changes in life that take hours to calculate.  You can save energy (and money) at the same time by making some relatively easy changes.

1.     Take a Vacation…in Your Recliner

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Do you have some extra vacation time to use up?  If you go on a jet, that can use the same amount of carbon dioxide that your home and car use – during the entire year!  Jets also kick out other pollutants besides carbon dioxide that may be just as damaging, or even worse.  So, you may be saving even more energy than you think.

2.      This Looks Like a Job For…Someone Else

Weatherproofing your home…who wants to do that?  You can quickly reduce the environmental impact your home makes by having it weatherproofed by a professional.  If it’s not already insulated, that could add a huge amount of savings too.

3.     Avoid the Commute

You had better take the train, bus, or carpool with friends to work, but that’s going to cost you more time and some inconvenience in coordinating schedules.  If you can stay motivated and productive while working from home, try to talk your boss into the idea.  Show him/her one of the many studies which demonstrate working from home results in happier, more productive employees.  See if you can get a trial period to test it out, if nothing else.

Then, you can work from that recliner…and save the planet by not using all that gasoline at the same time.

4.     Let Your Car Do it for You

The main process that burns gas in any vehicle is acceleration.  So, if you keep your speed as constant as possible by using cruise control, then your car is going to be more efficient.  Some new cars use “adaptive cruise control,” which measures how far the vehicle is from other cars and then modifies speed accordingly.

Can’t wait ‘till they make cars that drive themselves for you, can you?

5.      Put that Dishwasher to Work

Make sure you run it when it’s full.  It actually uses around 33% less water than washing dishes by hand, but only if the dishwasher is filled to the brim.

Wow, saving energy and money has never been so easy!  Which of these tips are you going to implement today?

For one of the easiest ways to save energy, switch to Payless Power for pre-paid electricity! Offering low-cost energy plans to suit both residential and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people with some of the best electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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5 Energy Savings Tips You Might Not Have Heard

We’ve written numerous blog posts on energy savings…and after a while you get to the point where you’re going to start saying the same thing over and over again.

So today, we’re going to step a little bit outside of the box and talk about some energy savings tips that aren’t typically the first mentioned.

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Check out a few, and if you’re already doing them yourself, congratulations, you’re an energy-saving genius:

1.      Pack the Freezer and Refrigerator Tightly

Think of it this way:  when you open the door to either of these appliances, warm air rushes in and cool air rushes out.  Now, your fridge and freezer have to work harder to get the temperature cool once again.  But, if that space is occupied by food, then it can’t be occupied by air.  Additionally, cool items touching one another help keep each other cool.  Don’t pack your fridge to tightly – it still needs to circulate the air, but you can pack your freezer much tighter.

2.      Unblock Those Vents

Got a piece of furniture in front of your vents?  Do they have a few years’ worth of dust inside?  Anything that obstructs your vents makes it harder for air to flow throughout your home and heat or cool it.  That changes the temperature, and so the thermostat kicks in unnecessarily to heat or cool your home as needed.  Keep your vents clear of all obstructions.

3.      Eliminate “Vampire Power”

Vampire power describes the energy electronic devices use when you have them plugged in, but they are turned off in sitting in sleep mode.  Yes, they do still consume a smaller amount of electricity in those instances.  This includes chargers.  Large items that almost always have to stay plugged in…TVs, surround sound systems, and desktop computers, should just be plugged into a surge protector.  Chargers and other items that may get moved around a lot should just be unplugged.

4.     Get LED Light Bulbs

CFLs are the new standard for efficient energy usage, but they’re going to slowly go away soon.  And that’s because LED light bulbs, which actually have been around for years, are finally getting affordable for consumer purchase.  It’s a pretty easy fix…just buy the light, screw it in, and forget about it for years…or until the kids break it.

5.     Transplant Trees…Or Plant Fast-Growing Ones

If you have to wait for the trees to grow, this tip takes some time to come into effect.  But, If you have trees surrounding your home, that breaks the cooler wind in winter, which keeps your home warmer, causing it to use less heat.  During summer, trees provide shade, helping your home stay cool.  Finally, they consume carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, so you’re helping to clean up the atmosphere.

Make sure they’re deciduous, which means they lose their leaves, so those leaves are gone in the winter when you need the sun.  And finally, make sure you get trees that like to grow straight and don’t fall over (some trees like to cause these problems) because they’ll be near your home.

So there you have it…five energy tips you don’t typically think of (but that nevertheless help you save energy).

For additional ways to save energy, check out Payless Power. Offering low-cost energy plans to suit both residential and business needs, Payless Power is a company committed to providing people with some of the best electricity rates in Texas, but also with helpful customer service. Visit the website to learn more about how to save electricity at home, or connect with the online community on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Pinterest.

Contact Us and Start Saving!

We would love to hear from you! Contact our customer care center at (866) 963-9353 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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