Choosing The Right Gas & Electricity Compnies

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You may not know it, but you’re constantly swallowing air. The simple act of swallowing or slurping drinks through a straw makes gas enter your body. More air is particularly taken in when you eat too fast or when you chew gum. Having gas inside you isn’t abnormal; everyone has it. While it can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations, there normally is no concern for frequently passing gas every day. After all, the average person passes gas roughly 14 times a day.

Causes of Gas

There are two main causes of gas. The first, as has already been mentioned, is swallowing air (also known as aerophagia), which can happen every time you eat or drink. The reason why most people burp or belch after a full, hearty meal is due to the excess gas accumulated while eating. Belching or burping is the most common way some of the swallowed air (which contains oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide) leaves the stomach. The rest goes into your small intestine (where it is partially absorbed) and the large intestine, where it gets released via the rectum in the form of flatulence (or more colloquially termed as a fart).

The second main cause of gas is the breakdown of some of the foods you eat. Unfortunately, most of these foods are branded as healthy – fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. The reason why these usually upstanding foods are such offenders is because they contain a high amount of fiber. Fiber is an important health component for your body, giving it benefits like ensuring your digestive system is working properly as well as regulating cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber, however, does not get broken down until it reaches the large intestine, where its digestion causes the formation of gas.

Lactose intolerance can also cause a higher than normal production of gases. If you find yourself having gas issues after eating dairy products, it could be because your body is unable to break down the lactose found in dairy. Lactose intolerance is particularly common in people who are of Native American, Asian, or African descent as these ethnicities have, by nature, low levels of lactase, an enzyme the body needs to process lactose. Also, as people age, the enzyme level decreases, resulting in an increase in gas production after lactose intake.

Other lesser causes of gas include the presence of other health conditions like Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease, the consumption of antibiotics (which cause the disruption of helpful bacteria in your bowel system), overuse of laxatives, constipation, and consumption of artificial additives like sorbitol and mannitol.

Aside from obvious embarrassing situations, an excess of gas might cause abdominal pains for some people. The build-up of air and gases from within causes pressure which, in turn, causes pain (keep in mind, however, that not all abdominal pains are caused by gas. Appendicitis, for example, is a pain manifesting on your right side only). While abdominal gas pains are mostly short, they can be intense. There are several ways for you to get rid of excess gas.

Eliminating Excess Gas

Treat underlying health conditions. If your gas condition is due to some other health disease, treating that disease should get rid of your gas problem. If you’re not sure whether your gas problem is indeed caused by another condition, have yourself checked by your physician. Sometimes, the gas problem is only a symptom of another health issue, and not the issue itself.

Lessen your intake of gas-causing foods. The worst offenders of gas for most people are beans, cauliflower, onions, apples, sugar-free candies, and chewing gum.

Foods high in fiber are also contributors to gas. However, since fiber is a healthy component in a diet, just temporarily cut back on foods that contain them, such as wheat, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Gradually incorporate them into your diet over the weeks that follow. Do not eliminate fiber foods in your diet. The trick is to limit them in such a way that you can still get their benefits. If you’re having trouble doing so, consult a dietitian or a nutritionist.

Reduce dairy product consumption. If you’re lactose intolerant, reducing your intake of dairy products will go a long way to lessening your gas problems. If you absolutely must consume them, use low-lactose dairy foods instead. For example, substitute yogurt for milk. You can also try using products that help in the digestion of lactose, such as Lactaid. You can also try to consume dairy products in small, manageable amounts or eat them together with other foods so digestion will not be as difficult.

While on the topic of manageable amounts of food, eating several small meals scattered throughout the day instead of three huge meals can also be a good way to reduce your gas problems.

Chew your food properly. You know how your parents were always telling you to chew your food slowly and properly? Well, aside from it being proper table etiquette, eating your food slowly and thoroughly instead of gulping it down like a huge trash compactor on steroids will lessen your probability of taking in more air while eating. Also, don’t use straws when drinking. Sipping through straws increases the chances that you’ll take in more air than usual. If you can’t seem to control your eating and drinking speed, put your fork down between each bite.

Stop smoking. When you smoke, you take in air that is supposed to directly go to your lungs. However, since you’re essentially inhaling air via your mouth, it is inevitable that some will find its way to your stomach, adding in more air than usual.

Take medications. There are several over the counter drugs that can help you control or get rid of your excess gas. For the lactose intolerant, the enzyme lactase is available in caplet form and chewable tablet form. You don’t need a prescription to get it. Lactrase and Lactaid are the two most common brands that contain lactase. Take these supplements before you consume any dairy products.

Beano, a digestive aid, has a sugar-digesting enzyme the body lacks to digest the sugar that is found in beans and vegetables. The enzyme comes in tablet or liquid form. For liquid, five drops are added to a serving of the food. For tablets, one tablet before eating is enough to break down the sugar that produces gas. However, Beano does not help prevent gases caused by lactose intolerance or fiber.

Semithione and charcoal tablets are also good medications you can take to break up the gas bubbles, limiting excessive belching.

All in all, a change in lifestyle and diet are the only things you need to do in order to get rid of your gas problem. There shouldn’t be anything more than that, unless the gas problem is a symptom of something that is more serious. In such screenings and diagnosis, the physician may take a look at your medical history as well as perform several physical examinations to rule out other more serious conditions. The tests usually include checking your abdomen to see if it is distended and tapping it to check for hollow sounds. A hollow sound is usually an indication of excess gas. Along with conducting several other tests and reviewing your medical history, the physician may recommend other tests just to be sure. If it’s nothing, then all you need to worry about is making sure you don’t get yourself embarrassed in public – something that can be avoided with proper etiquette.

Always keep your car in a good shape for high fuel efficiency. 

  • Give your car a fuel system tune up. Change oil every 3000 mile or 3 month. Get a better air filter. Get low resistant tires. It will cost some money to do these, but it saves money in the long run.
  • Remove unnecessary items in your car: bicycle rack, ski rack… The lighter your car, the less fuel it consumes.
  • Check tire pressure at least twice a month, and every time before a long trip. Low tire pressure may cost you up to 10% more gas. It’s best to buy a good pressure gauge, those in the gas stations are not accurate. With an accurate pressure gauge, you can always keep your tire pressure near the maximum.

When to fill? Where to fill? What to fill? They are all science… 

  • Fill your tank at the coolest time of the day. Gas is more condensed at low temperature, and you are only charged for the volume.
  • Keep an eye on the time they change gas prices, and fill before that. Of course, this applies only for the time when gas price goes up all the time, like now. Typically, the best time to fill your tank is Wednesday morning.
  • Don’t fill until less than 1/4 gas is left. Driving with less gas in the tank gives you higher gas mileage, because the car is lighter. Of course, you have to decide whether to take the risk of running out gas.
  • Alway fill your tank to full. Now that you are at the gas station, why not buy more? You have to come again when you run out of gas, and the trip costs more gas. But don’t fill beyond the limit, the extra gas will be wasted.
  • Compare prices before you fill. You can do that on mapquest or gaspricewatch.com.
  • When you are traveling, don’t fill at the gas station right at the exit of the highway, it costs more due to high demand.
  • Keep a record of you gas usage. Know which brands and which types of gas gives you highest gas mileage, and compare their prices.
  • If you have a credit card that gives you cash back on gas purchase, use it. But if you are always carrying a balance on your credit cards, you should also consider the APRs. Some gas stations offer good membership cards, check them out.

•     The power to choose electric companies was given to consumers in Texas in 2002 when Bill 7 (SB7) was passed in the Texas Senate, deregulating the state’s electricity market. This was expected to reduce Texas electricity rates significantly and provide cheaper electricity to consumers.

•     While the jury is still out on whether this has been good for Texas energy consumers, the fact remains that Texas electric choice is here and growing. There are quite a number of Texas electric providers that offer different electric rates and plans to private and corporate customers. The electricity choice for Texas can actually be a bit daunting for the casual consumer, who might have difficulty to compare electricity prices between the various electricity companies in Texas.

•     There are a number of points one should keep in mind when attempting to compare electricity rates in Texas. There is of course the basic parameter of price per kWh, which is what most people end up using to make their choice. This is, however, not necessarily the wisest way to make a selection.

•     First of all, the environmentally conscious should be aware that some electricity companies offer rate plans which are based on green energy only, or that include renewable energy in their portfolio.

•     In addition, it’s important to be aware that there are several different types of electricity rate plans: fixed, variable or indexed. As the names imply, fixed rates will generally not change throughout the contract, whereas variable rates will normally fluctuate from month to month based on electricity prices (although the way in which they fluctuate is defined differently by different electricity providers in Texas). An indexed rate is one which varies according to a formula as determined by the Texas electric provider. Every individual will have to decide which rate type is best for him or her.

•     Fixed rates will normally be higher than variable rates at a given point in time, although if electricity prices go up, so will the price you pay for it if you have a variable rate plan, whereas a fixed rate plan will stay at the same price throughout the duration of your contract with the electric company. Conversely, if power costs go down, the clear advantage is normally with the variable electricity rate plan.

•     Some electricity providers in Texas also have hidden costs, such as termination fees. Make sure to ask the representative from the electric company you’re considering how much of a “fine” you’ll have to pay if you break the contract if you’re not pleased with the service or if you move.

•     In view of the above, it’s of particular importance to find a good service to help you compare Texas electricity prices and rate plans as offered by the different Texas electric providers. There are several such services available, although not many will provide you with ALL the information you need about ALL of the Texas electric companies providing service in your area.

•     Dr. Igal Nevo is a Managing Director of BestPowerDeal.com, a website created to help Texas energy consumers compare electricity prices in Texas [http://www.bestpowerdeal.com/electricity-switching-faq/] and exercise their power to choose the Texas electricity companies

Although people are quite familiar with prepaid options for certain products like in cellular phones and broadband connections, many are still apprehensive and have not yet understood the implications of pay-as-you-go options for electricity. In the current economic crisis, people are now more aware of their energy consumption and many have taken steps in reducing their electricity usage – and the use of pay-as-you-go or prepaid electricity options could people be aware even more.

With prepaid options for electricity, people can now monitor their actual electrical usage through the smart meter, with this service and are now more aware of the energy wastage that accumulate on a daily basis. Aside from that, people with bad credit histories are turning to this payment option as an economic means to supply electricity to their homes without the hassles associated with paying electricity services.

What is Pay-As-You-Go Electricity?

The deregulated market for Texas electricity has allowed different payment options and plans that cater to the needs and preference of the populace and prepaid electricity is one option now available on some areas in the state. With the power to choose retail electric providers and avail of prepaid payment options, the people have more flexibility in paying their electricity bills according to their capacities and lifestyles.

Just like buying gas for your vehicles, pay-as-you-go or prepaid Texas electricity allows users to pay their electric bills up front, which is then consumed depending on their usage. People can load months ahead or add funds to their prepaid account on a monthly basis. The system makes use of a smart meter, which displays the user’s actual consumption in real time. The account comes with a smart card, much similar in principle to prepaid phone cards, which users can load up and swipe on their smart meters to specify how much Texas electricity usage is available for him.

Is Pay-As-You-Go Electricity a Viable Option?

Studies have shown that consumers using pay-as-you-go options can save them as much as 10 to 20% from their electricity consumption. Incidentally, this savings would be equivalent to a reduction of about 15 to 20 tons of green house gas emissions. Prepaid options for Texas electricity is still not yet available to all locations although many areas have already started to roll out availability of this option.

What are the Implications of Prepaid Electricity for Consumers?

Previously, people can tell if their homes are consuming large amounts of electricity by looking at how fast the round dial in the electric meters outside their homes spin. With smart meters used in prepaid Texas electricity users, people can now tell how much they have already spent and how much they are going to pay.

With such set-ups, users can gain a better understanding of their electrical usage, opening their eyes to things in and around their house that consumes more electricity than it should be. Not only will this have considerable economic implications on their electricity bills, but they can also help save the environment by saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

This means that people can pay up front for their electricity and never receive an electric bill from their provider. This is now made possible with the development of smart meters that allows pay-per-use plans much like how prepaid mobile phones function. There are however, certain considerations that consumers should look into before deciding if pay-per-use electricity is the way to go.

Considerations before Choosing Pay-Per-Use Electricity

The following are some of the considerations that people should take before deciding to change to pay-per-use electricity and have smart meters installed by their providers.

* The pay-per-use meter should have full credits loaded, otherwise the electricity service will simply stop until the time you top it up again with credits

* You should be near a pay-per-use crediting outlet so you could easily load your meter with credits that you can use.

* If you use medical equipments in the home that need a constant electric source, pay-per-use Texas electricity may not be a preferable option – unless you are ready to top the meter months in advance to ensure constant supply.

* Pay-per-use meters use key cards for activation. These cards record how much credit is still available that you can use. It is vital that the user take care of these key cards, otherwise they will not be able to use their smart meters to get electricity.

* Pay-per-use options for Texas electricity are not yet available in all locations. Check with your retail electric providers if this is an option they offer before you decide if this is an option to consider.

* Take careful consideration when going on vacation for a longer period of time. Ensure that you have enough credits to last the duration of your vacation; otherwise you’ll end up with refrigerators or freezers shutting down on you and spoiling whatever content left inside them.

* During extreme periods (hot or cold), consumers use more electricity. This should be a serious consideration during these times so you can allocate enough credits to get your electricity going.

* If you are considering pay-per-use Texas electricity, choose a provider that offers an emergency credit facility so you can have back-up options should you’ll be unable to buy credits at the appropriate time.

* Choose a Texas electricity pay-per-use provider that sends out a quarterly or annual statement that will show you usage and consumption details which you can use to plan energy conservation in your own home or facility.

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