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  • Night Owl

    Make the Most of Off-Peak Electricity



February 2018


Do you know you can save money if you take advantage of off-peak electricity times?

So you’ve finished your 9 to 5, and you’re back home. You put the washing on, turn on the TV, and start cooking dinner.

Millions of people do this at almost the same time throughout Australia. This places huge demands on energy supplies, creating a “peak” time.

That’s why off-peak electricity is sometimes charged at a reduced price. It can incentivise consumers to modify their behaviour with respect to when they choose to operate their household appliances.

For example, depending on your meter and tariff type, you may be charged less for running your washing machine and air conditioner at certain periods of the morning or evening than you would during peak hours.1 Shifting electricity usage to off-peak periods can be a great way of saving on your household energy bills.

So what time is off-peak electricity available? And how much cheaper is it than peak electricity? Read on to find out more.

What are off-peak electricity times?

These are times when you can access energy at a lower cost than usual. Typically, off-peak times fall into periods when the majority of households aren’t using electricity, such as early morning or late evening.

The exact time periods differ depending on the state and energy provider. Usually, off-peak hours occur between 10-11pm and 7-8am each weekday, and throughout the weekend2. Peak hours may last between 2pm and 8pm each weekday, again depending on the state and supplier. Some retailers also have separate pricing for “shoulder” rates, which bridge the gap between off-peak and peak hours. Check with your retailer on off-peak times as it differs by network and state.

How can I access off-peak electricity times?

Firstly, you must be signed up to an energy tariff that includes an off-peak plan. Most energy suppliers use your meter to determine whether you can access off-peak times. As a result, those with single-rate meters can’t access off-peak electricity times.

Off-peak compatible meters include the following:

  • Two-Rate meters. These measure usage for peak times and for off-peak times. Your energy tariff will define the rate and time of day for peak and off-peak usage.
  • Interval meters. Also known as ‘time of use meters’, interval meters measure the amount of electricity used over a 30 minute period. With an interval meter, it’s possible to record energy usage according to time of day, which is particularly relevant to users on pricing plans which incentivise consumption during non-peak and shoulder periods.3
  • Controlled Load. These are used in addition to your general usage meter and charge for electricity at a single rate. The appliance connected to the controlled load only receives electricity during off-peak hours. For example, you can use a controlled load meter to supply power to your hot water systems only during off-peak times.

How much cheaper is off-peak electricity?

Off-peak electricity generally costs about one-third to one-half per kilowatt hour (kWh) of the price of peak electricity. Exact rates depend on your energy plan.

For example, a peak rate may cost 35 cents per kWh, while an off-peak rate could cost 15 cents per kWh.

Let’s assume an appliance requires 350kWh annually. At these rates, operating it at peak times costs $122.50 per year, compared to $52.50 at the off-peak rate.

Tips for using off-peak electricity effectively

So how can you use off-peak electricity to its full potential? Follow these tips:

  • Only charge electronic devices at night. This includes smartphones, tablets, and electric cars.
  • Leave your dishes and laundry until the off-peak hours, instead of doing them straight away.
  • If you have a pool, only use the pump during off-peak hours. You may need to check that the pump meets local noise guidelines before doing this.
  • Set your appliance timers to operate during off-peak hours only.

The final word

It’s clear that electricity can cost more during peak hours.

By using off-peak electricity you could save hundreds of dollars on your annual energy bills.

Check with your retailer if you have a compatible meter and if you’re able to, change to an off-peak tariff today and follow the tips in this article to make the most of it.


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