Off peak electricity, often referred to as time of use pricing, is a great way to save money on electricity as it is generally 50% cheaper than peak.
Electricity / energy providers have different costs for electricity usage depending on the time of day you run your appliance.
This guide will show you how to take advantage of off peak electricity to save money and pay less for electricity, saving you $100’s over the course of a year.
Peak, off peak and shoulder charges explained
The cost of electricity will vary by provider, however one thing they all have in common is the fact that depending on the time of day you use your electricity, you could pay more or less.
Before you use these tips to save money, you will want to check that your home electricity meter is what they call an ‘interval meter’ and that your electricity provider has you on a ‘time of use plan’. These are required to effectively track and prove your usage marries up to the peak, off peak and shoulder times.
- Not sure if you have an interval meter? Simply call your electricity provider to ask, they will know.
- Not sure if you have a ‘time of use plan’? Again, call your electricity provider to ask.
Peak usage: the most expensive
This is often during the times you are frequently at home, normally between 2pm and 8pm. The majority of households are home, cooking dinner and preparing their home with the help of appliances. This is the time when electricity is the most expensive.
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Electricity companies after all are out to make money. Your goal should be to use less electricity during these peak times.
Shoulder periods / usage: the middle ground
Shoulder refers to the times when electricity is slightly cheaper than peak, often during the morning to noon period (7am to midday). Not as many households are home at this time, thus the charges are a little less.
A good rule of thumb is that shoulder charges are about 25% cheaper than peak.
Off peak usage: this is what will save you money
Off peak times can vary by provider, however generally its safe to assume that off peak is between the hours of 10pm and 7am.
Off peak electricity is normally 50%+ cheaper than peak electricity usage. The goal in order to save money should be to operate your appliances, especially large ones, during this time window.
Weekends and weekdays have different peak/off peak/shoulder periods
The weekends often have different peak, off peak and shoulder times. Print out the following diagram, stick it on your fridge and get the whole family understanding.
Strategies to use off peak electricity to your advantage
Working on the assumption that off peak electricity is around 50% cheaper to run, the more you can set your household to consume electricity between 10pm and 7am the more you will save.
Case study on using off peak electricity
As an example, before I knew about off peak electricity, I used to get quarterly bills for over $1000. Since implementing these tactics, my quarterly bills are closer to $400 these days. A massive saving of $2,400 a year.
Turn the dishwasher on before bed, not after dinner
It’s tempting to wash up immediately after dinner. Instead, if you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, fill it with dirty plates and cutlery but hold off pressing ON until you go to bed (after 10pm).
For those who go to bed early, learn to use the dishwashers built in timer – just about every model these days has one for this exact reason.
Run pool equipment during the middle of the night
If you have a pool, this will easily be the most expensive set of appliances you run. The pumps, filters, jet vacs and chlorinators consume a high amount of energy while in use.
Set the pool pump and filters to run at midnight. You will save 50% on your pool running costs and awake each day to a crystal clear pool.
Ausgrid states that by doing this, you could save a minimum of $250 a year on an average sized pool.
Do your washing on weekends, not weekdays
Leverage the cheaper round the clock prices of weekends to do your washing. Otherwise, aim to set the timers on your washing machine and dryer to match that of off peak periods during the week.
Most dryers and washing machines have built in timers these days; you simply need to read the instruction to familiarise yourself.
Limit your cooling and heating requirements – these are the most expensive
- Running air con during peak usage periods costs around $1 per hour.
- Running a small fan by way of example only costs 30 cents per hour.
- Ceiling fans are again even cheaper, consuming around 5 cents worth of electricity per hour.
The goal here is to limit your air con usage to off peak periods, if required at all, otherwise opt to use lower energy consuming fans to reduce your cooling costs by up to 20x.