Based in Houston Texas, but with reach across the United States, Direct Energy is one of the largest energy suppliers in North America. Direct Energy employs more than 5,500 people and has a customer base of over five million households. As a deregulated energy supplier, Direct Energy provides a new retail face for your utilities but allows you to maintain your existing power lines and energy distribution network that leads into your home. And with wide coverage and nearly nationwide reach, Direct Energy strives to provide competitive fixed and variable-rates on electric and gas services, coupled with industry-leading reliability.
One of Direct Energy's introductory offer to customers is its Free Power Plan, which may more appropriately be labeled as a free weekends plan. Very much like free weekend minutes that used to exist in ancient cell phone plans, customers of Direct Energy receive free electricity every weekend for the 12-month term of their initial contract. With this plan, Direct Energy urges customers to go wild on the weekends and save their high-energy usage and home chores for these weekend days. The Free Power Plan is a fixed-rate plan. Weekends start Fridays at 6:00 pm and end on Sunday at 11:59 pm.
With Direct Energy's Average Billing Plan, customers are able to average their monthly bills by their annual energy use. This provides a convenient, monthly bill that is approximately the same amount each time. Taxes, pass-through charges, and other fees may influence the monthly bill slightly, but these fluctuations and monthly variances are generally pennies on the dollar and would occur on any utility plan anyway. A customer's monthly bill on the Average Billing Plan is calculated by the energy usage from the previous 11 months plus the current month's usage. That amount is divided by 12 and then factored into your fixed or variable-rate for that month.
Many of Direct Energy's competitors have web apps for their customers, but not all of them have native smartphone apps. With the Direct Energy smartphone app, Apple and Android users are able to access their current energy usage, billing cycle, payment portal, and even a bill forecast that provides an estimate on an upcoming bill. For customers who utilize smart home technology, individual appliance energy costs are also broken down by kWh and the calculated cost to run them.
According to Direct Energy's plan details, the fixed rate plans can see rate changes during the contracted period, which is counter to the idea of a fixed rate. And while rate changes during a fixed-rate contract may not happen to every customer, the possibility can be somewhat disconcerting.
Each of Direct Energy's introductory plans comes with a termination fee of $135. This may only pose a problem if a customer plans on moving or switching providers before the contract is up, but it can still be a barrier to responding to life's unpredictable variables.