Skip to content

Is electricity cheaper at night? Off-peak explained

Article author's profile picture
Written by  Emma Spencer
Updated: 07 Feb 2024

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.

Understanding peak and off-peak electricity rates

In the quest to manage household expenses, understanding how electricity tariffs work can be a game-changer.

Energy suppliers often offer what's known as a "time-of-use tariff," which means that the cost of electricity fluctuates depending on the time of day.

During the daylight hours, typically from 8am to 10pm, electricity rates are at their peak. Conversely, the night hours, usually from 10pm to 8am, offer off-peak rates that are more wallet-friendly due to the lower demand.

man using washing machine

The dynamics of peak electricity use

Peak hours are when most households and businesses are active, and the demand for electricity is at its highest. This is when energy suppliers charge more for electricity usage.

The specific hours considered peak can vary depending on your meter type and your energy supplier, but the general rule of thumb is that daytime is more expensive.

Benefits of off-peak electricity

Off-peak hours are the energy industry's best-kept secret for those looking to save on their bills. With the demand for electricity waning during these hours, suppliers lower their rates, providing a prime opportunity to run energy-intensive appliances.

By scheduling your dishwasher, washing machine, or electric heater to operate at night, you can take advantage of these reduced rates.

The flat rate tariff option

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.

This simplicity can be appealing, but it doesn't offer the potential savings that savvy consumers can harness by using electricity during off-peak hours.

Maximising savings with night-time electricity use

For those on a time-of-use tariff, the allure of cheaper night-time electricity rates is strong. However, it's crucial to balance the potential savings with safety considerations, as running appliances at night can increase the risk of fire. Always ensure that you're on the correct tariff for your lifestyle and that you're aware of your supplier's designated off-peak hours.

Are off-peak tariffs really cheaper?

While off-peak rates are indisputably lower, the actual savings hinge on your energy usage patterns. If you're a daytime power user, the higher rates during peak hours on a time-of-use tariff could negate any savings made at night.

It's estimated that to benefit financially, at least 40% of your electricity usage should occur during off-peak hours – a target that may not align with every household's routine.

How to choose the right tariff

When it comes to finding the best electricity deal, it's essential to compare the available tariffs. To find the best tariff, use MoneySuperMarket to compare tariffs and find the right deal to suit your needs. This comparison can help you weigh the pros and cons of different plans according to your personal energy consumption habits.

Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs explained

Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs are designed for those who consume a significant amount of electricity at night. Economy 7 tariffs offer seven hours of off-peak rates per day, while Economy 10 provides ten hours.

These tariffs often require a smart meter to ensure accurate tracking of your power usage. They are particularly beneficial for households with high power needs, such as those with electric vehicles.

Pros and cons of economy tariffs

Before jumping into an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff, consider the following:

Pros

  • Ideal for those who use a lot of electricity at night

  • Reduced costs for running appliances like washing machines during off-peak hours

  • Suitable for meticulous bill trackers

  • Widely available from most major energy suppliers

Cons

  • Higher rates during the day

  • Necessity to consume a substantial amount of electricity at night to see savings

  • Applicable only to electricity, not gas

  • Meters may not adjust for daylight savings, affecting off-peak hours

Reducing electricity costs without time-of-use tariffs

Even without a time-of-use tariff, there are ways to cut down on electricity bills:

  • Install loft insulation to retain heat

  • Turn off gadgets and lights at night

  • Use draught excluders to prevent heat loss

  • Consider secondary glazing for windows

  • Avoid using power-hungry appliances like tumble dryers when possible

Night-time appliance use and savings

The potential savings from using appliances at night are contingent on your willingness to change energy habits and the efficiency of your appliances. Energy-efficient appliances with an A rating will always be cheaper to run, but if you have less efficient appliances with a G rating, running them at night could lead to more significant savings.

In summary, understanding peak and off-peak electricity rates can lead to substantial savings on your energy bills. Whether you choose a time-of-use tariff like Economy 7 or Economy 10, or stick with a flat rate, being mindful of when and how you use electricity can make all the difference.

Remember to compare tariffs to ensure you're getting the best deal and to adopt energy-saving practices that can further reduce your costs. With the right strategy, you can enjoy the benefits of lower electricity bills without compromising on comfort or safety.

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.