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Is electricity cheaper at night? Off-peak explained

published: 30 November 2022

If you’re looking to lower your energy bill, you might be able to save some money by running your appliances at certain hours. Read on for all you need to know about peak and off-peak electricity usage.

What does peak and off-peak electricity use mean?

Some energy suppliers charge lower rates for electricity you use at night. This is called a time-of-use tariff, in which the price of a unit of electricity goes up or down depending on whether it’s day or night.

It’s cheaper at night, when demand for power is at its lowest. This quieter period is called the off-peak hours, which usually falls between 10pm and 8am. Conversely, peak hours are during the daytime, when more people are using electricity and demand is higher.

Not all energy suppliers follow time-of-use tariffs. In fact, most have a fixed-rate tariff – meaning you’ll pay the same flat rate for your electricity, no matter if you’re using it during the day or at night.

man using washing machine

Can I reduce my energy bills by using electricity at night?

Yes, you may be able to cut your bills by using electricity at night. If you have a time-of-use tariff and use most of your electricity overnight, you can take advantage of off-peak rates and save money.

Be aware that it can be a fire hazard to run your appliances at night, particularly as fires are more likely to spread while you’re asleep. However, if you’re already up, it can be economical to schedule using your appliances just before you go to bed, or as soon as you get up in the morning.

Make sure your household is on the correct time-of-use tariff and check your supplier’s off-peak hours.

Are off-peak tariffs cheaper?

While off-peak rates are cheaper, getting an off-peak tariff doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll save money. It depends on your own habits and energy usage, as well as the unit price of energy during peak and off-peak hours.

Additionally, time-of-use tariffs can have steep daytime rates – often more expensive than a fixed-rate tariff. So, you’ll need to use at least 40% of your electricity at night to cut your bill.

What's the difference between Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs?

The difference between Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs is the number of off-peak hours you can benefit from:

  • Economy 7 tariffs offer seven hours of off-peak rates per day

  • Economy 10 tariffs offer ten hours of off-peak rates per day

Many Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs will require to you install a smart meter. This logs when you use your electricity with greater accuracy, and will help you monitor your energy usage.

Pros and cons of Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs

Pros

  • Great choice if you tend to use most of your electricity at night – for example, if you charge electric vehicles at night, or have storage heaters

Cons

  • Daytime rates can be expensive

  • Need to use at least 40% of your electricity at night to actually save money

  • Only applies to electricity – so dual fuel customers can’t benefit

How much can I save by using my appliances at night?

Depending on how you change your energy usage habits, you could make some savings on your energy bill.

Additionally, how much you can save also depends on the appliances you have and how efficient they are.

Appliances have energy ratings from A to G, with A being the most efficient. So, an A-rated appliance will be more energy-efficient than the same appliance with a G rating and will be cheaper to run. On the other hand, you’ll see greater savings by running lower-rated appliances at night.

Frequently asked questions

What times are off-peak?

Off-peak times can vary slightly depending on the energy company, time of year, and where you live, but generally you can expect it to be between 10pm and 8am.

It’s always best to check, either by calling your energy supplier or checking your bill.

When is peak time for electricity use?

Peak hours can be considered between 8am to 10pm, as more people will be using electricity during the daytime and evening.

Why is it cheaper to use electricity at off-peak times?

It’s cheaper to use electricity during off-peak hours because fewer people are using it and power demand is at its lowest.

How do I know if I'm on an off-peak tariff?

It’s easy to find out whether you’re on an off-peak tariff. You can check your electricity bill – if it shows both a day and night rate, it means you’re on a time-of-use tariff.

You can also look at your energy meter, which may have two dials: one for peak, and one for off-peak.