With household utility bills taking an ever-bigger bite out of budgets, many people are looking to switch their tariff to one that can provide cheap energy. One option that can be very beneficial for certain groups of people is a type of tariff that charges different rates depending on when you use the most energy, also commonly known as an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff.
How Does an Off-Peak Tariff Work?
One of the problems that energy companies face is that we all tend to use electricity at the same times of day, which means that they must carefully monitor the generation of electricity to ensure that there is enough to go around at all times. In particular, people use more electricity during the day and less at night. However, if you live in one of the few households that is able to deviate from this standard pattern of usage, you could save a lot of money with an off-peak tariff.
This type of energy tariff gives you a substantial discount on electricity that you use during the off-peak period, which is usually defined as running from midnight until seven in the morning. Some people are therefore able to save a lot of money by tweaking their habits to push more of their electricity usage into this low priced window.
Read more about the big six UK energy companies here
You May Need a New Meter
In order to provide this kind of time-sensitive billing, energy companies must be able to tell not only how much electricity you have used, but also when you used it. Gathering this information requires a specific type of meter, which records how much electricity has been used during off-peak versus on-peak hours. When you switch to an Economy 7 tariff, your new energy provider should be able to arrange for one of these meters to be installed in your home, although you might have to pay a one-off fee to cover the cost of installation.
Will You Benefit?
Off-peak tariffs only provide cheap energy if you use most of your electricity at night. For most people, this condition does not apply, but there are a few groups of people who could benefit.
Unusual Sleeping and Working Patterns
If your job requires you to be up and about between midnight and 7 am (the most common off-peak period used by these tariffs), then you could save money on an Economy 7 tariff. Think about when you normally use electrical appliances in your home. If most of your usage occurs at night, when most other people are asleep, then you could benefit from this type of energy plan.
Homes with Storage Heaters
If your home is heated using storage heaters, you should definitely consider an off-peak tariff. Under this type of arrangement, you can use the cheap energy provided overnight to heat up your storage heaters, which will then gradually release the heat during the day, meaning that you do not have to use much energy to heat your home during the expensive on-peak period.
Homes With Hot Water Storage Tanks
Water heating systems in many older homes store heated water in a tank until it is needed. If you have such a system, then you could save money by programming the boiler to begin heating the water during the last hour of the off-peak period (usually 6-7 am), then using the water for washing or showering when you get up.
People Who Can Run Appliances Overnight
Are you willing to run your home’s most high-powered appliances during the night, rather than during the day? If you can run your washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer during the off-peak period, then you could save a lot of money on this type of tariff.
Electric Car Owners
Electric car owners often recharge their vehicles overnight, which makes them ideal candidates for an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff. Simply plug in the car before you go to bed to take advantage of the cheap energy supplied overnight. Electric cars already have low running costs compared to those running on petrol or diesel, but an energy tariff with an off-peak period could drive down the costs even further.