What is Time of Use?
Wholesale electricity prices fluctuate all the time as customer demand changes throughout the day. A time of use program helps you take advantage of that.
Time of use programs from electricity suppliers allow you to pay a lower rate when using power during off-peak hours and a higher rate during on-peak hours. That's a big change from the typical structure of paying the same rate for power no matter what time of day. But joining a time of use program can also translate to savings on your electric bill each month.
Check if your electric supplier offers a time of use program in your area.
How does Time of Use work?
Let's review an example to see how time of use works.
You might usually run your dishwasher and washing machine in the evening—but so does everyone else. That increases the demand for electricity in the evening hours like 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. So during those peak hours, wholesale electricity prices can go up.
With a time of use program, you'll be encouraged to do the dishes and laundry during off-peak hours instead, like at night or early morning. The power you use in those low-demand hours will cost less.
Common Program Details
Each energy supplier has a different way of handling time of use programs. It's important to understand your supplier's on- and off-peak timeframes and other details. Here are a few things that most programs have in common:
- Off-peak hours with lower rates are usually early morning (for example: 6 a.m. - 9 a.m.) and late night (for example: 9 p.m. - 6 a.m.)
- On-peak hours with higher rates are usually during the day (for example: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and evening (for example: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.)
- Timeframes for on- and off-peak hours may change on weekends or during different seasons to account for changing customer needs.
How to Save Money with Time of Use
Who can Benefit?
It takes a little extra planning on your part, but a time of use program could lower your bill.
If you have the flexibility to shift your energy use habits to off-peak hours, then this unique pricing structure may be worth the added effort.
- Use electric appliances, like dishwashers and ovens, during off-peak hours
- Set timers on your thermostat and electric equipment like water heaters and pool pumps to go on during off-peak hours
- Charge your electric vehicle during off-peak hours
Time of Use and Electric Vehicles
Most electric vehicles (EVs) drivers tend to charge their cars after they return home from work. That's usually 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. As more people invest in EV technology, that adds to the demand for electricity at those times.
Try charging your electric vehicle during off-peak hours to get ahead of the demand and save.
Which Electricity Utilities Offer Time of Use?
More and more electric utilities in Pennsylvania are offering time of use programs. Check if your power company has a time of use or peak use pricing plan and visit their website for details. Offerings can vary and programs may have eligibility criteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Time of use programs from electricity suppliers allow you to pay a lower rate when using power during off-peak hours and a higher rate during on-peak hours.
A time of use program could potentially help lower your electricity bill. These programs encourage you to do tasks that use significant electricity during off-peak hours when there is lower demand and a lower cost, like at night or early morning. It takes planning to shift your energy use habits to off-peak hours, but if you have the flexibility to do so, then this unique pricing structure may be worth it for your household or business.
While it can be different for each electricity supplier, time of use off-peak hours with lower rates may be early morning (for example: 6 a.m. - 9 a.m.) and late night (for example: 9 p.m. - 6 a.m.). On-peak hours with higher rates may be during the day (for example: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.) and evening (for example: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.) Timeframes for on- and off-peak hours may change on weekends or during different seasons. You’ll need to check with your supplier for the specific time of use times in your area.
You may be able to reduce electricity costs if you charge your electric vehicle during the off-peak hours of your supplier’s time of use program.
If you are enrolled in a time of use program, your electricity supplier will use data collected from your meter to differentiate your electricity use during off-peak hours from your use during on-peak hours. Your off-peak usage will be charged at a lower rate, while your on-peak usage will be charged at a higher rate. The off-peak and on-peak charges will be combined to calculate your total bill. Check with your supplier for more specific details around time of use billing.
Check your electric distribution company’s website or call their customer service phone number to determine if they have a time of use program.
Through Act 129 legislation, large electric distribution companies (EDCs) must offer time of use programs. Additionally, suppliers may also offer these programs. Time of use rates, times, and eligibility criteria vary and should be confirmed with each EDC or supplier.
If you have questions about other cost saving programs or switching electricity suppliers, refer to our FAQ.