Peak and Off Peak Times: How They Affect Your Power Bill

Blog Post Monday 09 December 2019

Peak and Off Peak Times: How They Affect Your Power Bill

Understanding peak and off peak rates can help you pay as little as possible for power, as long as your retailer offers them. Here, we explain how peak and off peak power work and how you can take advantage of them to lower your electricity bills.

What's peak and off peak power?

After work, you come home, cook dinner, do the laundry, and start your screen time on a television, computer, or tablet. During this peak period, the country's energy networks tend to be under the biggest strain. This is known as a peak time for electricity.

Energy retailer typically have specified peak and off peak periods. Peak periods means you’re charged standard rates for usage whilst off peak periods come with cheaper prices to help reduce strain on the network.

How can you save with peak and off-peak power?

If you're on a flexible pricing or time of use tariff plan, you can take advantage of peak, off peak, and even shoulder rates if offered by your retailer.

Start by finding out your energy retailer's peak and off peak times.

  • Peak - This is when energy costs the most, and it's usually Monday to Friday during the evening.
  • Off peak - Off peak periods mean the cheapest electricity. This usually appeals overnight on Saturday and Sunday. Off peak rates could be around one-third to one-half per kilowatt hour of the peak rate or more, but this will vary depending on your retailer and plan.
  • Shoulder - If your retailer offers shoulder rates, this is when electricity is slightly discounted on peak rates. Shoulder rates typically sit between peak and off-peak periods.

Type of meter

The type of meter you have at your property can also affect whether you're on a peak or off peak tariff. For example, you do need to have a smart meter or time of use meter to be on a time of use plan.

Single rate tariff

Note if your household is on a single rate tariff, you're paying the same for your electricity no matter the time of day or day of the week. Single rate tariffs are usually lower than peak rates. They're also known as flat rates, standard rates, or anytime rates.

Controlled load and off peak meters

Some properties have controlled load or off peak meters, which apply to just one appliance (such as a hot water system) on your property. These appliances are usually run on off peak rates as they operate during low demand hours.

Strategies for saving with peak and off peak power

Planning your energy usage around peak and off peak rates can make a lot of difference for some households. For example, if you're out of the house a lot at night on weekdays, using appliances during off peak times might be already a necessity. People who spend a lot of time at home during the day or on weekends could also easily take advantage of cheaper off peak rates.

However, if you're ready to make a little extra effort, you can take advantage of peak and off peak rates regardless of your schedule.

  • Check with your retailer - Make sure you're on a time of use tariff plan to start with. Ask your retailer for their energy price fact sheet so you can work out the peak and off peak times that apply to your household and energy plan.
  • Plan appliance schedule - Once you know your peak and off peak times, work out a schedule for running your major appliances and meeting your power needs. For example, washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum, dryer, and recharging your electric car. You can choose to run your washing machine later in the evening, for example. You can use timers and delay start features to make it easier.
  • Charge devices at night - Charge all your devices and cordless battery-operated appliances only at night. These include vacuum cleaners, electric cars, phones, tablets, and mobile devices.
  • Pool pump - If you have a pool, program the pool pump and automated cleaner to run only during off peak periods.
  • Check your usage - Your bill will contain detailed information about how much you've consumed during peak versus off peak periods, so check it to find out more. Your retailer might offer online portals and dashboards to let you see energy usage by hour. Use these tools to track your usage and better plan your energy consumption throughout the day and during the week.
  • Regularly check your tariff - Tariffs can change from time to time, so stay up to date so you're aware of how rates are changing.

Electricity can be cheaper during off peak periods, but you'll need to be on a time of use plan for your electricity rather than a single rate tariff. If you are, find out the off peak periods applicable to your plan. If you plan your power usage around off peak periods, you could save more on your electricity costs just with a little extra effort.