Controlled Load is an effective way to reduce your electricity costs and power certain household devices (often the ones that use the most power) with a discounted electricity rate. Controlled Load electricity is often 50-60% cheaper per kWh than normal electricity rates, making it a very real way to reduce the cost of electricity.
In this article, we decipher exactly what controlled load is and how you can set up your house to use controlled load electricity to save money.
What is controlled load?
Controlled load is a cheaper rate of electricity designed to power devices such as hot water systems, air-conditioning, pool pumps and other energy-intensive appliances. It’s called controlled load as the discounted rate of electricity only applies during set hours of the day. The controlled hours of this discounted electricity rate is defined by your energy wholesaler (not electricity company, but the company they purchase electricity off – aka a wholesaler). More on this later on in the article.
These controlled load hours are often set for ‘off-peak’ times, e.g. times when the electricity grid isn’t in heavy demand.
Before you find out your controlled load times, understand that households consume the majority of their electricity during a few distinct hours, in turn putting pressure on the electricity grid during these times. Given the energy companies wish to promote people to use less power in these peak demand times (to help reduce pressure on the electricity grid they operate), they offer cheaper electricity prices if you opt to use electricity outside of those hours – helping them reduce the pressure on the grid along with saving you money.
As a general rule of thumb, most peoples household’s consume the majority of their electricity during two time periods;
- The morning routine; often when the house wakes up and prepares for getting out the door to work or school. This is usually between 7am and 9am.
- The evening routine; often when the house is arriving home, preparing dinner and enjoying time together. This is usually between 5pm and 10pm.
How to get controlled load electricty?
To use controlled load electricity rates, you first need three things;
- A meter configured for controlled load.
- Appliances wired to use the controlled load meter and circuit (instead of the usual home circuit)
- An electricity plan that offers controlled load rates
A quick call to your existing electricity provider will be able to tell you whether or not there is a record of controlled load being configured. Your meter and it’s specifications are often known to all electricity companies, thus they can let you know what is configured.
If you have a meter configured to use controlled load
You’ll need to choose the big appliances in your home you wish wired to that meter. You’ll then need to call an electrician and ask them to rewire those devices into your controlled load meter.
If you don’t have a meter configured to utilize controlled load
You will need the help of your electricity company. Give them a call and ask them for the steps required to add a controlled load meter; they will often charge around $100-$200 to add the feature to your metering (to cover their call out fee and install). Alternatively, some electricians can help you with this – though new electricity metering rules make it hard for electricians to be certified for all energy providers. Also, when talking to your electricity company – ensure the electricity plan you have (or will have) offers controlled load.
Once you have your meter configured for controlled load, ring your electrician and ask them to rewire your big appliances to utilize the controlled load meter.
Controlled load times
To find out who your electricity wholesaler is, ring or live chat your existing electricity provider. They do not control the exact times for controlled load, but they will know who your energy wholesale is (based on your address) and give you the hours of operation for controlled load.
Controlled load times are defined by your energy wholesaler. For example, I use AGL Electricity, though the energy wholesaler for my area is Aus Grid, thus they define the controlled load times.
Remember, controlled load usage hours differ by the provider so if you’re interested to use controlled load electricity – call your current electricity company to request the name of your wholesaler and their controlled load times.
What happens if you use controlled load outside of designated usage times?
A common misconception of controlled load is that when an appliance is wired to use controlled load electricity, is that it will not operate at all outside of the controlled load times. This is not true.
If you use an appliance, wired to controlled load, outside of controlled load usage times – it will simply charge you the more expensive usual rate of electricity. This means you can set high energy appliances to use controlled load and simply know that they will still work outside of controlled load times – albeit at the usual household rate of electricity.
What types of appliances can use controlled load?
Basically, any items that use high amounts of electricity and could technically run outside of the usual peak hours of usage. For example;
- Air conditioning units
- Pool equipment (pool pumps, solar heating, pool filters and more)
- Hot water systems (electric hot water systems and heaters
Difference between controlled load 1 and controlled load 2
Here are a few rules to help you understand the difference between controlled load 1 and controlled load 2.
- Controlled load 1 is cheaper (often with a lower kWh rate)
- Controlled load 1 has more restricted hours to operate (e.g. narrower time frames and at later/earlier times)
- Controlled load 2 is more expensive than controlled load 1 (slightly).
- Controlled load 2 gives you wider usage windows, starting earlier in the evening and finishing later in the morning