Archive for July, 2008

Put down that Book- Go Read your Meter
July 29, 2008

I have spoken with 4 consumers in as many days who have received huge electric bills because their meters were estimated, instead of actually read.

It reminds me of an investigation we did in May 2007 when we discovered CenterPoint meter readers estimating hundreds of thousands of Houston meters. CenterPoint is allowed to do this up to three months in a row. On the fourth month, they have to actually send someone to your home for a real *read.*

When all of this was going on, we encouraged consumers to read their own electric meters. It’s the only real way for you to know that your bill is accurate. PUC rules say that your electric bill must show if your meter was estimated or read. Look for the word “estimated” or the abbreviation “EST.”

Even if your bill doesn’t show that your meter was estimated, if it seems high, go around to the back of the house and check it out for yourself. (Check out the “read dates” on your bill to find out what time of the month the meter reader comes to your home. You’ll want to do your read around the same time.) Go on… don’t let all those dials intimidate you. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide I found on how to read your meter. Interesting that CenterPoint doesn’t post instructions.

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When can you quit?
July 23, 2008

Do you have any idea when you can retire? Sure, sure… you can walk off the job today if you want. What I really mean is, when can you afford to retire?

Everyone has different 401K plans and savings accounts. Much of the money you’ll see from those savings will depend on the economy. But the Social Security Administration has a benefits calculator that will give you an idea of how much you would get from SSI if you left work now, when you’re 62 or (and we hope we won’t have to work this long) when you’re 85! It’s pretty handy; and should help you adjust your other savings accordingly.

“Dolly” Makes me Happy
July 21, 2008

I know… I know… Severe weather is serious business.

Tropical Storm Dolly is moving into the Gulf of Mexico and we should all be prepared for major rain, even flooding. But everytime I hear Frank, Anthony, Jonathan or Khambrel talk about Dolly, it makes me smile. What a great name for a storm!

No one in the Severe Weather Center thought my idea of going in and out of the news breaks with Dolly Parton songs was a very good idea; so I had to take up the cause myself. Turn up the speakers on your computer and get ready to say “Hello Dolly!”

Our Bag o’ Crap has arrived!
July 20, 2008

You’ll have to see the post below to understand what this slideshow is about.  But I know most of you have been on pins and needles waiting for this 🙂

A Modern Day Grab Bag
July 15, 2008

Do you remember grab bags fom when you were a child? You could go into a store and buy a brown paper bag, usually stapled shut, simply to find out what was inside.  It might be jacks, temporary tattoos or bubble gum.  You didn’t really pay the quarter for the product, but for the mystery of getting to the bottom of the bag.

Now, there’s a modern day online grab bag of sorts for adults. It’s called the “Bag o’ Crap.” I’m not kidding. People actually pay $1 (plus $5 for shipping) for a bag. You don’t know what’s inside.  But some bags in the past, offered by the website Woot, have contained Playstations and all kinds of pricey gadgets.  Apparently the bags are only offered sporadically and they sell out lightning fast. There’s a whole Woot Bag o’ Crap following and a website dedicated to the items people have received in their bags.

One guy posted this YouTube video of him opening his bag (er.. it appears to be a box).

Can’t contain your excitement? There’s more. Anticipation is in the air at my house. My husband has successfully ordered his bag o’ crap. It’s scheduled to arrive this week.  Chcek back here for an update on what we find in the bag.