Energy And Electricity: What’s The Difference?
A lot of people use the terms electricity and energy interchangeably, especially when referring to the utility bill you pay each month. When it comes to this bill, they are referring to the same thing, after all…
Everything in your home is powered by electricity.
You trust that when you flip a switch, the lights come on. But for that to be true, you need to make sure that you are paying that electricity bill each month.
In Texas, this bill can come from one of over 130 Retail Electricity Providers (REPs).
With that many options, how can you be sure that the bill you’re paying isn’t way more expensive than it needs to be?
Simple. Use Power Wizard.
Power Wizard’s unbiased algorithm will search and compare all of the available electricity plans to find the best option for your home. All it takes is your zip code and 5 minutes of your time!
Let us find you the best plan in seconds and start saving.
In this helpful guide, we will discuss the similarities and differences between these terms while also helping you discover the best available electricity plan for your energy needs.
Click on a section to skip directly to it:
What Is Electricity?
Electricity is the presence and flow of electric charge (electrons) in one direction.
It is a form of energy used to power our lives.
An electric current is when electrons move along a path, called a conductor.
When electrical charges are not moving, electricity is called static electricity.
Are you getting flashbacks of middle school science class yet?
Don’t worry. There is no need to study, and there won’t be a test later.
In the next section, we will explain electricity in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Keep reading to learn about the differences between static electricity and current electricity.
Forms of Electricity
What are the different forms of electricity?
There are two forms of electricity: Static and Current.
Wait. Isn’t solar, wind, nuclear, and natural gas also forms of electricity?
No, these are different types of electricity which we will discuss in a later section.
You shuffle across the floor in socks, then reach out to turn on a light just to get zapped. That is static electricity.
We all have felt the jolt of a static electric shock. But what is static electricity, and why do we get shocked?
Static electricity is the increase of electric charge on the surface of objects.
This is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges.
Here are three ways static electricity can be harnessed and used:
- Printers and Copiers: Static electric charges attract ink to paper.
- Spray Paint: The paint droplets hold a negative charge as it leaves the nozzle and creates a mist.
- Air Filters: Static electricity traps airborne particles.
Current electricity is electrons in motion along a path. The path may be a conductor such as copper, silver, and aluminum. Free electrons can be forced to move from one region of the conductor to the other.
Current is the rate at which an electric charge flows in a conductor.
Current electricity is used to power everything in your home, from the front porch light to the air conditioning unit.
This type of electricity is necessary to power our world, and we use it every day in almost every activity we do.
So, is there a difference between electricity and energy?
Yes, there is a difference:
Electricity, also known as current, is the movement of charged particles through a wire or other medium.
Energy is the ability to do work or apply force to move an object.
What Is Energy?
In the most basic terms, Energy is the work that a certain force can do. It can be divided into two categories: kinetic energy and potential energy.
Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Potential energy is mechanical energy, stored energy, or energy caused by its position.
Energy comes in several forms:
- Thermal (Heat)
- Radiant (Solar)
So, how do energy and electricity work together?
Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measurement of energy that is equivalent to 1,000 watts of power for a 1 hour time period. Electricity usage is measured in kWh.
Your electric meter records the amount of electricity you use each month in kilowatt hours.
One kilowatt-hour = 1,000 watt-hours. If you turn on a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours, the energy usage is calculated as 100 watts x 10 = 1,000 watts (or 1 kilowatt-hour).
If your current electricity rate is 11.0¢ per kWh, you will pay 11.0¢ for using a light bulb for 10 hours.
What Kind Of Energy Do I Need For My Home?
Enough of the science lesson.
You want to know what kind of energy you need for your home.
We talked a little bit about the different types of energy above, but let’s talk more about it now.
Electricity For My Home
When you think of powering your home, electricity is probably the first energy source you think of.
Electric power is produced by power generators. Then the power is purchased by Retail Electric Providers (REPs), then sold to you for consumption.
Gas For My Home
Natural gas generates electricity when fossil fuels are burned in a boiler to heat water and produce steam. That steam turns a turbine to generate electricity.
Gas power is an example of thermal energy.
Solar For My Home
Wind For My Home
If you have ever driven through central Texas, you have no doubt seen fields of large white windmills called wind turbines. These create Wind Energy.
Electricity Vs. Gas
Now that you understand the differences between electricity and gas, you want to know which one is the best source of energy for your home.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each energy source:
|Electricity Pros||Gas Pros|
|Powers everything in your home||Fewer greenhouse gases|
|Electric appliances are cheaper||Rates are typically lower|
|Electricity Cons||Gas Cons|
|Less environmentally friendly||Limited uses – can’t power lights|
|Possible electric shocks||Gas/carbon monoxide leaks|
Determining whether electricity or gas is a better choice for your home depends on your individualized needs and personal choices.
While gas rates are often lower than electricity rates, gas may still cost you more in the long run.
If your home is equipped with all-electric appliances, converting to gas will be costly. You will have to pay to have gas lines put in. You will also have to purchase all new gas appliances.
Renewable Energy: Solar Vs. Wind
Since electricity and gas are generated by coal, nuclear, oil, and natural gas, they are considered nonrenewable. The resources for these types of energy are limited.
This is one reason renewable energy is so attractive. It is energy generated by resources such as the sun and wind, which are limitless.
Let’s look at a few pros and cons of solar and wind power:
|Solar Pros||Wind Pros|
|Produces no greenhouse gases||Low operational costs|
|Can power an entire house||High production potential|
|Solar Cons||Wind Cons|
|High initial costs||Fluctuating source-not always windy|
|Takes up lots of space||Threat to wildlife|
Solar and wind power both offer tremendous potential for 100% green energy. However, these sources of energy do have some setbacks.
The initial costs to fit your home with solar panels can range anywhere from $15,000 – $40,000. That is a huge amount of money.
Solar customers generally see a return on investment within 7 years of installation. This may be good if you don’t plan to move, but for those who move often, solar panels will not yield the same financial benefits.
Wind power seems to be a great option. It uses less energy and is capable of producing much more electricity.
The downside is that wind turbines are noisy. Additionally, they are a threat to wildlife due to deforestation and harmful to birds and bats.
Is Energy And Electricity The Same, Or Is Electricity A Form Of Energy?
The short answer: No, energy and electricity are not the same.
Although energy and electricity tend to be used interchangeably, they are, in fact, different.
Electricity is produced by the movement of electrons. Electricity is converted to energy which is used to power your TV, heater, and dishwasher.
Energy is the ability to do work. It is the measurement of the force needed to move something. In the case of electricity, energy is the force that drives the electricity through lines and into your home.
Energy can be measured using many different units, but electricity is measured in kilowatts per hour.
How Is Electricity Produced?
The three major categories of energy used for electricity generation are
- Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum)
- Nuclear energy
- Renewable energy
Most electricity is generated with [steam turbines](https://www.eia.gov/tools/glossary/index.php?id=Steam turbine) using fossil fuels, nuclear, biomass, geothermal, and solar thermal energy.
Other major electricity generation technologies include [gas turbines](https://www.eia.gov/tools/glossary/index.php?id=Gas turbine plant), hydro turbines, wind turbines, and solar photovoltaics.
Once electricity is generated, it is sold in bulk to retail electric providers (REP). REPs then sell electricity to you, the consumer, at a rate per kWh.
Keep reading to learn how to find electricity plans.
How To Find Electricity Plans
Whether you are moving into a new home or just want to save money on your electric bill, you should be shopping around for electricity plans.
Aren’t all electricity plans the same?
There are several types of electricity plans. Depending on your unique energy needs, some plans may be a better choice than others.
Types of Electricity Plans:
These plans usually require a 12, 24, or 36-month contract. In return for your commitment, you will have a stable locked-in rate. This means no surprise bills.
These rates vary based on the market price. The bonus of these plans is you can save when the rates are lower but will be hit with high electricity bills when the rates rise.
Free Electricity Plans
These plans offer free electricity on nights or weekends. You may want to consider these plans if the bulk of your electricity usage is at night or on the weekends. Be sure to read the fine print of the terms of service to know exactly what time the “free” electricity begins and ends.
Green Energy Plans
Renewable energy allows customers to utilize a higher percentage of solar and wind power. Green energy plans often have higher upfront costs but can possibly save money in the long run.
Prepaid or pay-as-you-go plans allow you to purchase electricity prior to using it. These usually require no deposit or credit checks but often have higher kWh rates.
Why are there so many types of electricity plans in Texas?
In part due to the 2002 deregulation of electricity for most of Texas.
The state of Texas wanted to open the electricity market to prevent any one power generator from controlling the industry and, more importantly, the price and cost of electricity.
An open electricity market allows REPs to compete for your business. This competition gives you the opportunity to save money and get the best available electricity plan for your unique energy needs.
So, what does deregulation have to do with you, and how can it save money?
Since there are so many REPs in Texas (over 160, to be exact), they are all competing for your business. Competition means you can save money because they offer different electricity plans to entice you to choose them.
But, how do you choose an electricity plan?
Option 1: You Can Spend Hours (Or Days) Of Your Life Doing A Manual Search
It is exhausting and frustrating searching through electricity plans to find the best one for your needs. There are over 160 retail electric providers in Texas with nearly 2,000 individual plans.
With so many options, how do you know which plan is the best for you?
Step 1: Input Zip Code To Find Electricity
The first step in manually finding an electricity plan is discovering which electric providers are available in your area.
Most REPs will ask you to input your zip code. Once you do that, you will get a list of electricity plans available in your area.
Brush up on your excel skills because you will need them to find a plan manually.
Step 2: Evaluate The Electricity Plans That Each Electricity Provider Offers
After you have located all of the REPs in your area, you need to sift through each and every available plan – that could be thousands.
There are several factors to consider:
- The rates per kWh-variable rates vs. fixed-rates
- Contract lengths – 6, 12, 24, 36 months
- Minimum usage requirements
- Cancellation fees
- Hidden fees
- Terms of service
You will need to evaluate each of the factors with each individual plan to determine the best electricity plan for your needs.
Step 3: Find An Electricity Plan That Meets Your Needs
Manually searching for an electricity plan that meets your unique needs will likely take patience, endless hours, a degree in electricity, and an expert level of excel knowledge.
To ensure that you are always on the best plan, you will have to continually monitor the electric market, rate fluctuation, and plans.
The best plan for you today may not be the best plan for tomorrow.
If you don’t have these, you can still save money and find the best available electricity plan for your unique energy needs.
Option 2: The Power Wizard Automatic Search
Power Wizard can begin searching for the best electricity plan for you with as little as 5 minutes of your time.
No one person can accurately analyze the hundreds of available electricity plans and determine the right one for you faster than Power Wizard.
We use proprietary data science and technology to analyze every aspect of the way you use electricity.
We look at the peak time of day usage, average monthly consumption, size and age of your home, and location to find the most affordable plans to match your needs.
Step 1: Enter Your Zip Code Into The Shopping Tool
To get started with Power Wizard, you simply just plug your zip code into our Shopping tool.
It takes less than 5 minutes to begin finding the best available electricity plan for your individual electricity needs.
Step 2: Add Information About Your Home And Usage
Electricity usage is like a thumbprint – everyone is unique.
The next step is to add the size, square footage, and age of your home.
Then, you will answer a few questions about your electricity usage.
Why does Power Wizard need specific information about your home?
Let us explain:
Texas was the first state to have an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) in 1999.
This means homes built after 2000 are typically larger in square footage but more energy-efficient than homes built in the years prior.
Newer homes use about 20 percent less energy to heat internal space. This is a result of advanced heating systems and stricter energy code regulations.
So, if your home was built in 2009, it uses energy much differently than a home built in 1997.
Step 3: Find THE Best Electricity Plan For You
Once you have plugged in your zip code and answered a few questions about your home, our technology begins to scan hundreds of energy rates and plans to match you with the best one.
Everything is considered before selecting the right one for you – the fine print, the hidden fees, and ultimately the set rate.
Step 4: Quickly Set Up An Electricity Plan
Setting up your electricity plan is automated and effortless. Power Wizard manages your new account from start to finish.
The entire sign-up process is managed by Power Wizard.
Power Wizard enrolls you with your new electricity supplier. Your current supplier contract will automatically end, so there is a seamless switch to your new supplier.
We ensure there is no gap in electricity service between providers.
Step 5: Always Have The BEST Electricity Plan For You
Once you become a member of Power Wizard, we manage all aspects of your electricity plan.
Our all-seeing technology regularly scans the market to ensure your current rate can’t be beaten.
We regularly monitor your usage and calculate your costs based on your contract.
We alert you when your plan is about to expire, so you will not be rolled into a more expensive plan.
If we discover a better plan, Power Wizard lets you know.
Are you ready to find the BEST electricity plan for your energy needs?
Start now by using our Free, Unbiased Shopping Tool.
Let us find you the best plan in seconds and start saving.