Skip to content

Is electricity cheaper at night? Off-peak explained

Article author's profile picture
Written by  Vanessa Tsai
Article reviewer's profile picture
Reviewed by  Joe Minihane
Updated: 22 Sep 2023

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, while charging more for the power you use during the day. This is known as 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.

Peak electricity

Peak electricity use refers to when power is used during daytime hours. Usually this is between 8am and 10pm, although this can vary depending on the meter you have and which supplier you use

Off-peak electricity

Off-peak hours usually fall between 10pm and 8am. During this off-peak period, electricity is cheaper, thanks to the fact that demand is lower than during the day. If you have an off-peak tariff, then this is the time to run energy-intensive appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, especially if you have a timer to switch them on during the off-peak period. Off-peak rates can be much lower than peak rates, with the potential for savings on your energy bill.

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 in order to cut your bill. That may be challenging if you work from home or enjoy streaming movies and gaming. To make savings, try timing the use of appliances like your washing machine so that they run overnight rather than during more costly peak hours.

To find the best tariff, use MoneySuperMarket to compare tariffs and find the right deal to suit your needs.

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 you to install a smart meter. This logs when you use your electricity with greater accuracy, and will help you monitor your energy usage.

Both Economy 7 and Economy 10 time-of-use tariffs are a good bet for those who have power intensive needs, such as an electric car. The cheaper hours mean that you can take advantage of lower rates in order to ease your bills.

If you are an average user or live in a small home, however, you may find you can simply save by cutting your usage and having the same fixed tariff for the entire day.

Pros and cons of Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs

Pros

  • Economy 7 and Economy 10 are great if you tend to use most of your electricity at night – for example, if you charge electric vehicles at night, or have storage heaters

  • Allows you to run power-intensive appliances such washing machines and tumble dryers overnight when it’s cheaper to use them

  • Great for those who keep a keen eye on their bills

  • Readily available from most major suppliers

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

  • Economy 7 and Economy 10 meters don’t adjust to British Summer Time in Spring, meaning off-peak hours may change - check so you don’t use peak electricity by mistake

How can I cut the cost of my electricity?

While Economy 7 and Economy 10 meters can help cut energy costs, you may find that implementing a few simple measures can help lower your bills without switching to a time-of-use tariff. This includes:

  • Installing loft insulation - loft insulation is affordable and easy to install and can help make major savings

  • Switch off devices at night - standby mode can use up unnecessary power

  • Invest in draught excluders

  • Opt for affordable secondary glazing if you don’t have double glazed windows and doors. This will stop you using as much energy to heat your home

  • Avoid using power intensive appliances like tumble dryers

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.